About Iestyn Davies
British countertenor Iestyn Davies is recognized for the power and versatility of his voice, with a repertoire extending from Baroque opera to contemporary works. He has made appearances in major Baroque roles in large opera houses in Europe and the U.S.
Davies was born September 16, 1979, in York, England. His father was a noted cellist and encouraged his son's musical ambitions. Davies studied piano and recorder at first but switched to singing after a stint in the St. John's College Choir in Cambridge. He had some success as a solo boy soprano, appearing in a recording of Purcell's Timon of Athens (as Cupid) in the early 1990s. After his voice broke, he experimented with tenor and bass parts but then mastered the countertenor voice in music classes at Wells Cathedral School. Davies studied archaeology and anthropology at St. John's College but then enrolled at the Royal Academy of Music for vocal studies and settled on a vocal career. From the start, his performances and recordings have included contemporary works as well as Baroque soprano and castrato repertory; in 2002, he sang on a Naxos recording of the Magnificat of William Walton.
By the mid-2000s, he was appearing internationally; a 2004 appearance in Handel's Messiah at the Lateran Basilica in Rome was widely noted, and two years later he recorded the work for Naxos. Davies has made several more acclaimed recordings of Handel, as he has the power for the composer's full-scale soprano roles. Davies made his New York City Opera debut as Arsace in Handel's Partenope in 2010, and he has subsequently appeared at both the Metropolitan Opera in New York and Chicago's Lyric Opera. He also appeared on Broadway as the famed castrato Farinelli in the play Farinelli and the King in 2017.
Davies has collaborated with top historical-performance specialist conductors including Rinaldo Alessandrini, Alan Curtis, and John Eliot Gardiner. In 2017, he recorded the album Lost Is My Quiet, unconventionally applying the countertenor voice to songs by Mendelssohn and Schumann. He followed that up in 2019 with If on the Signum Classics label; the album joined works by contemporary British composer Michael Nyman to works of Henry Purcell. Davies was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire in 2017. ~ James Manheim