Opera Scotland

Joan Davies Suggest updates

English mezzo-soprano.

She trained at the Royal College of Music and spent the 1959 season in the Glyndebourne Chorus, singing soprano. She joined the chorus at Sadler's Wells in 1960, and for several years from 1961 was given a number of small roles, including Flora Bervoix, Countess Ceprano, Aurora (Orpheus in the Underworld), Bacchis (La Belle Hélène), Masha (Queen of Spades), Frasquita and Berta. She appeared in some rarities, including the Ginger-Bread Woman (A Village Romeo and Juliet), the Water-Melon Seller (Our Man in Havana) and Lady-in-Waiting (Gloriana). Her two Janáček roles were Innkeeper's Wife (Cunning Little Vixen, British premiere 1961) and Chekunda (House of the Dead, first British production 1965). She was promoted to principal in 1967, and added roles such as Pauline (Queen of Spades), Métella and Kate Pinkerton. She sang the title role in La Belle Hélène both in London and on tour, and created the role of Hester Bellboys in A Penny for a Song (Bennett 1967).

She worked with all the major British companies, appearing with Welsh National as Meg Page (Falstaff) and Háta (The Bartered Bride). Her most frequent role at Covent Garden was also Meg Page. Parts she created include Third Lady and Second Madwoman in We Come to the River (Henze 1976) at Covent Garden and The Voice of Ariadne (Musgrave 1974) at Aldeburgh, the latter part being the title role, an electronic tape also used in subsequent productions. With Basilica Opera she appeared as Carmen (1971) and with Phoenix as Suzuki (1973). She sang several operetta roles by Kálmán and Sullivan with the New Sadler’s Wells company (including Katisha in a staging of The Mikado which toured to Aberdeen in 1986). Her only role with Scottish Opera was Annina in the first run of Anthony Besch's production of Der Rosenkavalier (1971).

On record she can be heard as Flora in the 1964 highlights disc of the Sadler's Wells Traviata. That Scottish Opera Rosenkavalier has also been made available (on the Ponto label). And of course there is the electronic tape of the Voice of Ariadne, made for the premiere at Aldeburgh in 1974, and used again in the Cologne production that came to Edinburgh in 1981. Will it still be heard in fifty years time?

Roles in Scotland

Flora Bervoix Violetta's friend
Traviata 1961
Traviata 1963
Frasquita a gypsy, Carmen’s friend
Carmen 1963
Daphne Helen's maid
Belle Hélène 1963
Belle Hélène 1965
Hélène Queen of Sparta
Belle Hélène 1967
Belle Hélène 1968
Lady in waiting
Gloriana 1967
Annina Valzacchi's accomplice
Rosenkavalier 1971
Voice of Ariadne
Voice of Ariadne 1981
Katisha an elderly Lady, in love with Nanki-Poo
Mikado 1986

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