Max Emanuel Cenčić (born September 21, 1976) is a countertenor, currently based in Austria.
Max Emanuel Cenčić countertenor from Serbia
Early career as a boy soprano
Born in Zagreb, Cenčić started singing at a very early age, earning fame in his native Croatia at the age of six after singing the Queen of the Night’s coloratura showpiece aria ‘Der Hölle Rache’ from Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte on Zagreb television. From circa 1987 to 1992, Cenčić was a member of the Wiener Sängerknaben, with which institution he toured and recorded widely. Recorded performances (in which Cenčić was either treble soloist of the Sängerknaben or an independent male soprano) with the Sängerknaben include Händel’s Messiah, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung, and Mozart’s Requiem (which also features countertenor Derek Lee Ragin), all available on the Capriccio label. Cenčić can also be heard in his capacity as the leading treble soloist with the Wiener Sängerknaben in numerous recordings of liturgical and secular music on the Philips label. A particular highlight from his recordings with the Sängerknaben is a performance of the vocal version of Johann Strauss II’s Frühlingsstimmen, a remarkable feat of vocalism for a boy soprano.
Post-Sängerknaben career as a male soprano
From 1992 to 1997, he pursued a solo career, singing soprano although his voice had already broken. Following considerable success as a male soprano (including widely acclaimed performances as Amore in Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice), he took a sabbatical from singing, during which time he re-trained his voice as a high countertenor. He made his debut as a countertenor in 2001. Prior to adapting his vocal technique to the countertenor range, Cenčić made a series of recordings of operatic arias and Lieder for a private record label. These recordings have been sporadically available through Arcadia, the online shop of the Wiener Staatsoper.
Current career as a countertenor
Following his re-training as a countertenor, Cenčić has enjoyed a successful career that has taken him around the world. An intrepid performer, Cenčić’s career to date has been marked by a series of dramatically varied portrayals, an impressive example being his performances in the female role (likely composed for a castrato) of Saint Alexis’ wife (Sposa) with William Christie and Les Arts Florissants’ traveling production of Stefano Landi’s 1631 opera Sant’Alessio. Cenčić also enjoyed notable success in the role of Perseo in the serenata Andromeda Liberata, attributed to Antonio Vivaldi but of dubious authorship, both in a world tour and a recording on the DGG Archiv label with Andrea Marcon and the Venice Baroque Orchestra.
Cenčić made his debut at the Wiener Staatsoper on 28 February 2010, in the role of the Herold in Aribert Reimann’s opera Medea. He sang three additional performances of the role at the Staatsoper in November and December 2010.
A new studio recording of operatic arias by Georg Friedrich Händel, notably containing music composed for the mezzo-soprano castrato Giovanni Carestini, was released on the EMI/Virgin label in the UK on 1 March 2010.
Cenčić will perform the role of Ottone in Monteverdi’s opera L’Incoronazione di Poppea at Madrid’s Teatro Real in May 2010, in a production featuring William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. The production will be recorded for DVD release in their Monteverdi series with Les Arts Florissants by the Italian label Dynamic.