Opera Scotland

Arthur Davies Suggest updates

Born Wrexham, 11 April 1941.

Died, 8 August 2018.

Welsh tenor.

Arthur Davies was one of the most successful lyric tenors to have appeared in Britain in recent decades. An excellent actor, he performed most of the standard repertoire (as well as some rarities) with WNO and the other regional companies and ENO.  He also had a substantial international career, working widely in the USA, Australia and Europe.

He studied under Joseph Ward at the RNCM in Manchester.  His debut in 1972 was with Welsh National as the Novice in Billy Budd. He quickly added light lyric roles such as Almaviva,  Ferrando,   Nemorino,  Albert Herring,  Quint,  Jack (The Midsummer Marriage).  and Kudrjaš.  Novice and Jack were both featured when the WNO productions appeared in the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall.  As his voice gained in power he added  a large range of roles including Rodolfo,  Pinkerton,  Don José,  Arturo (I Puritani), and  Yannakos (The Greek Passion).

His debut with Scottish Opera was as the Fox in Cunning Little Vixen (1980 Edinburgh Festival), and he returned for David,  Pinkerton,  Cavaradossi and  Don José. He was scheduled to return in 1997 for Pollione in Norma, but had to withdraw.  Other Scottish appearances include Yannakos in an Edinburgh Festival concert, and a Verdi Requiem in 1999 in Dundee, when the other soloists were Lynne Dawson and Sarah Walker as well as the only Scottish appearance by the great Russian bass Evgeny Nesterenko.

He first appeared at Covent Garden in the 1976 world premiere of Henze's massive theatre piece  We Come to the River (Gentleman & Victim).  He returned to the Royal Opera House as Alfredo,  Števa, Pinkerton and  Foresto (Attila).  He also sang the short but important part of Arturo in Lucia di Lammermoor for Dame Joan Sutherland's final London run in the work, with Carlo Bergonzi as Edgardo.

At ENO he appeared as  Essex,  Don Ottavio,  Faust,  Lensky,  Werther and Gustavus.  In the famous long-running 1982 staging of Rigoletto by Jonathan Miller he sang the Duke, returning for several revivals.  When ENO toured to the USA he performed 'Duke' in New Orleans and, perhaps more controversially, at the New York Met.  For Opera North his roles included Gaston in Verdi's Jérusalem and Troilus in the original version of Walton's Troilus and Cressida, as well as Nadir in Les pêcheurs de perles and Rodolfo in Luisa Miller.

International work included Andrea Chénier at the Bolshoi and in Leipzig.  He also sang Gerontius under Evgeny Svetlanov in the Soviet premiere of Elgar's oratorio.

There are several excellent ecordings -  the WNO Greek Passion, the ENO Rigoletto and the Opera North Troilus and Cressida.  He also recorded concert works such as Dream of Gerontius and the Mozart Requiem, both under Richard Hickox.

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