New Feather in the Cap of 'Countertenor of the Moment' Iestyn Davies as He Impresses in Major Role at Royal Opera House

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), September 25, 2010 | Go to article overview
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New Feather in the Cap of 'Countertenor of the Moment' Iestyn Davies as He Impresses in Major Role at Royal Opera House


Byline: MIKE SMITH

YOUNG Welsh singer Iestyn Davies is being dubbed "the countertenor of the moment" after impressing audiences in a major role at the Royal Opera House in London.

The 29-year-old is in much demand due to a major growth in interest in his unmistakable singing style and the early opera that demands this special type of voice.

Davies, whose family is from Carmarthenshire, is singing Creonte in the UK premiere of a rarely performed 17th century opera, Niobe, Regina di Tebe by Agostino Steffani, at the Covent Garden opera house. This is the latest feather in his cap having made his mark on both sides of the Atlantic, praised by critics and opera aficionados alike, in the recording studio and picking up awards including the RPS Young Artist Award.

His distinctive voice is most in demand for early operas, including the works of Handel and Purcell that demand the vocal and musical range the Baroque's pampered castratos were famous for.

The countertenor vocal range is equivalent to that of a contralto, mezzo-soprano, or more rarely a soprano.

Extremely popular in the 17th century, interest waned until the 20th century increased popularity of Baroque opera and the need of male singers to replace the castrati roles in such works.

Davies is also in demand for his concert work and during the past year he's appeared at the prestigious Wigmore Hall as well as at festivals in Edinburgh and Cheltenham.

Davies' musical education includes being a boy chorister at St John's, Cambridge and Wells Cathedral School before moving onto the Royal Academy of Music.

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