Coffee with Daniel Cabena

Article Written by Stephen Bell – Marketing/Development @coffeescreative

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At Coffeeshop Creative we are not only passionate about designing and developing a unique web presence for our clients, but also sharing their stories. We are super excited to share another story in our series of blogs – Grabbing Coffee. Today’s feature – the talented Canadian countertenor Daniel Cabena.  As we are designing the upcoming launch of his custom website, we recently caught up with Dan at Toronto coffee spot, Jet Fuel Coffee. So grab your favourite cup of java and get to know a little about this artist and operatic singer.




Daniel Cabena with organist Magdalena Hasibeder. Photo by Michael Lang-Alsvik

Tell us a little about yourself?


I’m a singer and teacher and, therefore, most fervently a student! I’m committed to craft, the means whereby we make and teach music, and community, the human beings among whom we live and with whom we ‘chew the fat,’ ‘solve the problems of the world.’ So there’s the serious stuff!

I live in Guelph with my wife, Mary and my stepchildren, Theodora, a budding advertising and marketing magnate, and Henry, a budding thespian. We’re surrounded by family; and we’re happy to be part of the lively cultural landscape of our region.We’re steeped in the bricks&mortar – or, in our case, stucco! – of Guelph, having just spent a year and change restoring an 1875 farmhouse in the centre of town. And we’re always looking for ways in which to contribute to the life of our city, Mary through her medical practice (Art Med), and me through my music and teaching. And we spend time, too, nurturing our other passions, for vintage clothes and cocktails. In other words, I hope (with apologies to Oscar Wilde) at least to “…wear [and to drink] a work of art” everyday.

I love to walk and read and chat and, especially, to listen. And I love to sing and teach and create and, especially, to learn.

SCB - Hayes CD Aufnahme 2012 © Susanna Drescher 61

Daniel Cabena in recording

What inspires you with operatic and concert repertoire for the countertenor voice?  


I’m very happy that fate (and some well-timed Christmas presents from my father in the form of recordings by Alfred Deller) put me on the road to singing alto. The repertoire for male falsettist is as dear to my heart as it is wildly diverse. I appreciate that the male falsettist is, on account of his having been associated with the early Music revival, so closely associated with the music of the 17th and 18th Centuries. And I appreciate, even more particularly that there’s such a rich 20th and 21st Century repertoire for countertenor. I rejoice to discover the music that was contemporary to our ancestors; and I rejoice in the particular privilege of premiering works that are new to our time. All of this music belongs to us; and I’m delighted that, for all kinds of wacky reasons, we countertenors get to sing so much of it!




Daniel Cabena as Lydie-Anne de Rozier in Les Feluettes- Pacific Opera Victoria

Tell us a little about the hugely successful recent productions of Les Feluettes? 


It was a real honour to participate in the creation of Les Feluettes, to discover the beautiful new setting by Kevin March of Michel-Marc Bouchard’s extraordinarily moving and important play, and to bring that dramatic whole to life in this moment and with such a marvelous group of colleagues. What a joy!

I really fell in love with my character, Lydie-Anne de Rozier. …I fell in love with them all, in fact! And I was so grateful for the opportunity to share this work with the people of Montreal, Victoria and Edmonton, to bring such a powerful and transformative story to such a wide public.




Daniel Cabena.  Photo by Michael Lang-Alsvik


What lies ahead for you in the 2018/19 performance season?


This season is delightfully full of exciting singing projects. I’m taking part with Turning Point Ensemble of Vancouver, in the premiere of a fascinating and beautiful opera by Rudolf Komouros called The Mute Canary. That’s already taken me to the extraordinary NODO Festival in Ostrava in the Czech Republic, and it will take me in the fall to Vancouver. And I’ll have the pleasure of singing Handel’s Messiah in that city, with the Vancouver Chamber Choir. I also have an exciting project on the go with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra, a recital of arias by Handel, Mozart and Rossini, which we’re calling “The Dark Side of Love.” I’ll have the chance, too, to sing with Spiritus Ensemble of Kitchener the second performance of a new cantata by Zachary Wadsworth called The Temple, on a libretto by Amanda Jernigan. I commissioned and we premiered this work in January, 2018, and I’m thrilled to have the chance to sing it again. And the spring of 2019 will find me in Winnipeg, singing a program of music by Henry Purcell and his contemporaries with Polycoro. Those are some of the adventures that singing has in store for me. But life has other adventures in store as well. There’ll be teaching, which is always a joy. And there’ll be the continuation of my Alexander Technique studies. And there’s all the wonderfully lively activities in the life of my family to participate in…. It’s a fruitful time!



2 Daniel Cabena.s

Photo by Trina Koster Photography


 And… most importantly, favourite type or style of coffee? 


I’m a very liberal-minded drinker of coffee, and I appreciate all forms of preparation, all provenances and roasting levels. I’ll even, though I prefer black, occasionally allow a grain of sugar or a droplet of cream into my cup. But I am of immovably stubborn discernment when it comes to two aspects of my coffee drinking, those being volume and temperature. My favourite style, in other words is: hot and lots.

I’ve begun, of late, to roast my own beans at home. First, I experimented with the Zen Roaster, which works like a charm but whose small size was incommensurate with my gargantuan appetite. So I’ve graduated to the stovetop popcorn popper, basically a pot with a cranky thing that turns the beans; and it’s marvelous. It takes (for some reason almost exactly) 7 minutes to bring about 12 ounces of green beans to a darkish medium roast.

I’ve noticed a couple of things since beginning to roast green beans at home. First, I’m abidingly impressed by the number and delicacy of the variables involved. To master this art would really take some time. Second – since a master I am not, I’m struck that even my rankest failures still yield shockingly gorgeous coffee, better than I’ve had almost anywhere ever. So, make of thy kitchen a roastery!

Finally, though, I would observe that the quality of a cup of coffee is entirely dependent not upon bean or roast or method or even water source…but upon the company with whom you share it. And that’s why it’s such a treat to work with Coffeeshop Creative.

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