Man­hat­tan came first, but a home de­but fast ap­proaches

Iestyn Davies, fast ris­ing star of the opera world, was born in York­shire but moved away. David Den­ton talks to the singer on his re­turn home.

Yorkshire Post - Culture & The Guide - - MUSIC -

“MY fam­ily left York when I was still a child, but when­ever I came close to the city, even when I was just pass­ing through on the train, I had this very strange feel­ing that I had to re­turn to live here,” says Iestyn Davies.

“Then, three years ago, with my ca­reer well es­tab­lished, I did just that.”

For Iestyn Davies, his move north came at a time when he was fast be­com­ing one of the most ex­cit­ing new­com­ers on the in­ter­na­tional opera cir­cuit, en­gage­ments stretch­ing more than three years ahead as ap­pear­ances were sched­uled in pres­ti­gious con­cert halls and opera houses on both sides of the At­lantic.

Com­ing from a pro­fes­sional mu­si­cal fam­ily, he had to spend some time away from York to be ed­u­cated at a board­ing school in Som­er­set where his ap­ti­tude as a singer was soon noted. He be­came a choral scholar in the world fa­mous choir of St John’s Col­lege, Cam­bridge, fol­lowed by years he de­scribes as liv­ing in the “busy world of con­certs, broad­casts, record­ings and tours”.

Na­ture dic­tates that life as a boy tre­ble is lim­ited, but he had the good for­tune of a voice that took some time be­fore adult­hood, al­low­ing him time to pass through tran­si­tion and ad­just to­wards study­ing the to­tally un­re­lated sub­jects of ar­chae­ol­ogy and an­thro­pol­ogy in which he even­tu­ally grad­u­ated from univer­sity.

“Singing re­mained the thing I most wanted to do in life. I first tried to be­come a tenor but wasn’t very good, so I moved to the bass range and that was a dis­as­ter. It was only when I was mess­ing about singing falsetto that peo­ple be­gan to take no­tice of me,” he says.

“I was noth­ing un­usual, ev­ery male is born with the abil­ity to sing falsetto, even those with a deep speak­ing voice, but it can only be used in short pe­ri­ods be­fore it be­comes ex­hausted, and you would cer­tainly be un­able to project it into a large the­atre.

“So you have to seek ex­pert tu­ition and un­der­take the rig­or­ous vo­cal train­ing and strength­en­ing of neck mus­cles that con­trol the ac­tion that takes place in the throat. If you add all of that to­gether, your high reg­is­ter is turned into a vi­able counter-tenor.

“Even then you use it with great care as it is very dif­fer­ent

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