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Iestyn Davies releases solo album and makes major US debuts

British countertenor Iestyn Davies, named 2010’s Royal Philharmonic Young Artist of the Year, looks forward to a landmark season. October 11 saw the release of his most recent recording, Porpora Cantatas, a solo album on the Hyperion label that is already a sensation in Europe, and over the coming months Davies makes his mark in the States with three major debuts. After generating rave reviews at New York City Opera last season – “radiant countertenor Iestyn Davies is superb,” the New York Times marveled – the singer returns to the city for debuts at the Metropolitan Opera, performing his role debut as Unulfo in Rodelinda (opening Nov 14), and at Carnegie Hall (Dec 15), where he presents the same recital program as at the Phillips Collection in Washington, DC (Dec 4). A third important American debut follows in the New Year, when Davies makes his first Lyric Opera of Chicago appearance and role debut, portraying Eustanzio in Rinaldo (opening Feb 29).
Porpora Cantatas features six of the twelve secular cantatas dedicated to Frederick, then Prince of Wales, by 18th-century Italian composer Nicola Porpora. Porpora’s ability to set his native Italian to music was widely acknowledged during his lifetime, and the cantatas, all to texts by Metastasio, present highly imaginative word painting. According to a five-star review in the UK’s Daily Telegraph, they are “perfectly tailored to the mellifluous, beautifully articulated, expressive countertenor voice of Iestyn Davies.” International Record Review confirms:
“I never once tired of Davies’ voice. There is not just a clarity and purity about it but also a wonderful sense of color and variety. A sense of style, yes, but more than that a strongly communicative urge which brings everything vividly to life in arresting and often extremely attractive interpretations.
The British Observer likewise praised Davies’s “awesome technique and flawless tone,” as well as admiring the “lithe and graceful chamber ensemble Arcangelo” that accompanies him on the recording.
It is also in Baroque repertoire that the countertenor makes his house and role debuts at the Met in November, when he sings Unulfo in a revival of the Stephen Wadsworth production of Handel’s Rodelinda. Star soprano Renée Fleming returns in the title role as the Queen of Lombardy, with Andreas Scholl as usurped King Bertarido, and Stephanie Blythe as Eduige. Conducted by Harry Bicket, the production will be transmitted Live in HD to movie theaters worldwide on December 3.
Davies returns to Handel in February 2012, when he makes his Lyric Opera of Chicago debut singing his first Eustanzio in Rinaldo, the Baroque master’s depiction of the First Crusade. Directed by Francisco Negrin, the production stars David Daniels in the title role, with Julie Kleiter as his love interest, Almirena; Luca Pisaroni as Argante, the Saracen king of Jerusalem; and Elza van den Heever as his mistress, Armida, Queen of Damascus.
Davies is as celebrated in the concert hall as in the opera house; after a recent Wigmore Hall recital appearance, the Times of London observed:
“There isn’t a weak spot in the entire vocal range of Iestyn Davies. Whether in the sustained low register of dark lament, or whether hurling the voice high in the exuberance of triumphant love, his is a countertenor which gives unalloyed pleasure.”
For his Phillips Collection recital on December 4, as for his Carnegie Hall debut eleven days later, Davies will be joined by pianist Kevin Murphy in a program of works by Britten, Purcell, and Bach. At Carnegie Hall, Davies will also present the world premiere of folksong arrangements by composer Nico Muhly. The New York-based composer’s opera Two Boys was recently given its debut at English National Opera, consolidating his reputation as an “important artist” (New York Times). As for Davies himself, he is – as audiences in New York, Chicago, and Washington will soon be able to attest – “today’s most exciting British countertenor” (Observer, UK).
Iestyn Davis: 2011-12 engagements
Oct 22
Austria, Vienna
Vivaldi: Orlando furioso (Ruggiero)
Theater an der Wien
Nov 14, 19, 23, 26, 30; Dec 3*, & 10
New York, NY
Handel: Rodelinda (Unulfo)
Metropolitan Opera
(Live in HD broadcast: Dec 3)
Dec 4
Washington, DC
Phillips Collection
Britten, Purcell, Bach
Recital with Kevin Murphy, piano
Dec 15
New York, NY
Carnegie Hall
Britten, Purcell, Bach, and Nico Muhly (world premiere)
Recital with Kevin Murphy, piano
Dec 18
Norwich, England
Theatre Royal
Handel: Messiah
Britten Sinfonia
Dec 20
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Handel: Messiah
Britten Sinfonia
Dec 22
London, England
St. John’s, Smith Square
Bach: Christmas Oratorio
Dec 23
London, England
St. John’s, Smith Square
Handel: Messiah
Dec 31; Jan 2, 2012
Zurich, Switzerland
Handel: Messiah
Tonhalle-Orchester Zürich / Timothy Brown
Jan 7
Liverpool, England
Handel: Messiah
Royal Liverpool Philharmonic
Feb 29; Mar 4, 8, 12, 16, 20, & 24
Chicago, IL
Handel, Rinaldo (Eustazio)
Lyric Opera of Chicago
March 9
Chicago, IL
Hyde Park Union Church
Recital: “The White Rabbit”
Baroque Band / Harry Bicket
March 10
Chicago, IL
Music Institute of Chicago
Recital: “The White Rabbit”
Baroque Band / Harry Bicket
March 14
Chicago, IL
Symphony Center / Grainger Ballroom
Recital: “The White Rabbit”
Baroque Band / Harry Bicket
April 3
Austria, Vienna
Bach: St John Passion
Theater an der Wien
April 6
London, England
St John’s, Smith Square
Bach: St. John Passion
May 4
Santa Cruz, Spain
Auditorium Adán Martín
Vivaldi: Cessate, omai cessate, RV684; Stabat Mater, RV621
Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife
May 7
London, England
Wigmore Hall
Britten, Purcell, and Bach
Recital with Malcolm Martineau, piano
May 17
Göttingen, Germany
Handel: Esther
Göttingen International Handel Festival / Laurence Cummings
June 17
Leipzig, Germany
Bach: Mass in B minor
Leipzig Bachfest / Harry Bicket
Aug 4
A Caldara: Maddalena ai piedi di Cristo (Amor Terreno)
Accademia Bizantina / Ottavio Dantone
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© 21C Media Group, October 2011



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