Neal Davies

Introduction

Winner of the Lieder Prize at the 1991 Cardiff Singer of the World, Neal Davies has since appeared with the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Scottish Opera and Welsh National Opera. He is a regular guest at the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms, and has taken part in notable recordings of Handel's Messiah, Saul and Theodora for DG Archiv with Paul McCreesh and the Gabrieli Consort.

Recent engagements include Handel’s “Belshazzar” under Jacobs in Aix-en-Provence, Berlin and Innsbruck, Agrippina for the Deutsche Staatsoper, Berlin, Ko-Ko (“The Mikado”) for the Lyric Opera of Chicago, Handel’s “Athalia” with Concerto Koeln, Bottom (“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) for Garsington Opera, Ariodates (“Xerxes”) and Kolenaty (“The Makropoulos Case”) for the English National Opera, and Zebul ("Jephtha”), Papageno, Dulcamara, Guglielmo and Don Alfonso (“Cosi fan tutte”),  and Sharpless (“Madame Butterfly”) for the Welsh National Opera. With William Christie and Les Arts Florissants, Neal has sung in Theodora (Paris and Salzburg) and in the Aix-n-Provence Festival production of Charpentier’s David et Jonathas (Aix, Edinburgh and New York), which is available on DVD, and he sang Valens in a tour of Theodora with The English Concert and Harry Bicket.

Neal recently sang the Traveller in the Barbican Centre production of Curlew River at St Giles, Cripplegate, which will tour to New York and California this season. He will return to the English National Opera as Ariodates and to the Royal Opera, Covent Garden as Alaska Wolf Joe (The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny).

This is for information only and should not be reproduced. Please contact Jonathan Turnbull  for a full biography and for performance details.

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News & Features

Repertoire

BEETHOVEN
Fidelio/Leonore (Don Fernando)

BERLIOZ  
Beatrice et Benedict (Don Pedro)
La Damnation de Faust (Brander, Mephistopheles)

BRITTEN
Curlew River (Traveller)
A Midsummer Night’s Dream  (Demetrius/ Bottom)
The Rape of Lucretia   (Junius/Collatinus)
Billy Budd (Mr Redburn)


CIMAROSA  
Il Matrimonio Segreto (Conte Robinson)

DONIZETTI  
L’Elisir d’amore (Dulcamara)
Don Pasquale (Pasquale)

HANDEL  
Giulio Cesare (Achilla)
Radamisto (Tiridate)
Acis and Galatea (Polyphemus)
Theodora (Valens)
Alcina (Melisso)
Ariodante (King)
Ezio (Ezio)
Orlando (Zoroastro)
Xerxes (Ariodates/Elviro)
Jephtha (Zebul)
Agrippina (Pallante)
Belshazzar (Gobrias)

JANACEK   
The Makropolus Case (Kolenaty)
Sarka (Premysl)

MOZART  
Die Zauberflöte (Papageno/Sprecher)
Don Giovanni (Leporello)
Le nozze di Figaro (Figaro)
La finta giardiniera (Nardo)
Così fan tutte (Guglielmo/ Don Alfonso)
La clemenza di Tito (Publio)

NICOLAI
Die Lustigen Weiber von Windsor (Reich)

PUCCINI
La Bohème (Schaunard)
Madama Butterfly (Sharpless)

RAMEAU  
Platée (Satyr/Cithaeron)

SCHUBERT
Die Freunde von Salamanca (Fidelio)

J. STRAUSS  
Die Fledermaus (Frank)

SULLIVAN  
The Pirates of Penzance (Major General Stanley)
Mikado (Ko-ko)

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Media Player

Audio

Schedule

Garsington Opera, STOKENCHURCH

HAYDN 'The Creation'

Conductor: Douglas Boyd
Choreographer/Director: Mark Baldwin

Soprano: Sarah Tynan
Tenor: James Gilchrist
BARITONE: NEAL DAVIES

Garsington Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Dancers of the Rambert company

Garsington Opera, STOKENCHURCH

HAYDN 'The Creation'

Conductor: Douglas Boyd
Choreographer/Director: Mark Baldwin

Soprano: Sarah Tynan
Tenor: James Gilchrist
BARITONE: NEAL DAVIES

Garsington Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Dancers of the Rambert company

Garsington Opera, STOKENCHURCH

HAYDN 'The Creation'

Conductor: Douglas Boyd
Choreographer/Director: Mark Baldwin

Soprano: Sarah Tynan
Tenor: James Gilchrist
BARITONE: NEAL DAVIES

Garsington Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Dancers of the Rambert company

Garsington Opera, STOKENCHURCH

HAYDN 'The Creation'

Conductor: Douglas Boyd
Choreographer/Director: Mark Baldwin

Soprano: Sarah Tynan
Tenor: James Gilchrist
BARITONE: NEAL DAVIES

Garsington Opera Orchestra & Chorus
Dancers of the Rambert company

Royal Albert Hall, LONDON

MOZART: Per questa bella mano
MOZART: Clarinet concerto in A major
MOZART: Requiem

Conductor: Iván Fischer

SOPRANO: LUCY CROWE
Alto: Barbara Kozelj
Tenor: Jeremy Ovenden
BASS: NEAL DAVIES

Budapest Festival Orchestra

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Press

HAYDN

Die Schöpfung: May 2016

Sydney Opera House, Sydney Symphony Orchestra

"The three soloists were very special indeed...Neal Davies matched [Allan Clayton] depiction for depiction as a ripe, sonorous Raphael. A master word painter, his focussed, fruity baritone could be laden with mystery, enunciating the void, or full of fun rattling off the multifarious beasts of the field. Rolling in Foaming Billows and Now Heaven In Fullest Glory Shone were both standouts.

Limelight Magazine, Clive Paget, 12 May 2016

"Neal Davies’ recitative about the whales and 'every creature that moveth' (Und Gott schuf große Walfische) was made particularly impressive by the multi-coloured sonorities of the divided lower strings. Davies himself provided perhaps the most memorable single moment of the evening by finishing his Part II recitativo (Gleich öffnet sich der Erder Schoß) on the low D, an octave lower than the one in the score – a note unattainably low for most bass singers."

Bachtrack, Zoltán Szabó, 13 Mai 2016

Handel

Ariodante

Theatre Royal, Glasgow (Scottish Opera)

"Neal Davies commands the stage as the community’s mostly benevolent leader" David Kettle, The Arts Desk, 19 February 2016
"Much of the singing is beautiful... Neal Davies is a sonorous King" Kate Molleson, The Guardian, 17 February 2016
"Neal Davies on fine form" Mark Brown, Telegraph, 17 February 2016

Handel

Messiah (Recording, BR Klassik)

Munich

The bass is Neal Davies and he's very much to my taste. In 'Why do the nations?' he offers splendidly dramatic singing - there's terrific vocal presence here - and in the section that begins 'The kings of the earth rise up' his articulation of the notes is enviable. The highlight of his contribution, however, is 'The trumpet shall sound'. In the outer sections his singing is truly commanding and he sounds absolutely splendid. But what really made me sit up and take notice was the quietly lyrical, almost confiding way in which he delivers the central section, 'For this corruptible must put on incorruption'; this is understanding and imaginative Handel singing. John Quinn, MusicWeb International

Handel

Theodora

Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Harry Bicket

Bass Neal Davies led the stunning line-up of soloists, relishing some wonderfully thunderous passages as the uncompromising President Valens. His punishment for the virtuous Christian Theodora - sung with crystal clarity by Stefanie True – was banishment to a brothel. Susan Nickalls, The Scotsman

Walton

Belshazzar's Feast

Royal Festival Hall, RPO/Tadaaki Otaka

The musical riches were considerable, not least from the wholly outstanding solos of Neal Davies. His contribution was superlative – every word clear and finely delineated, dead in tune (even in the long unbarred unaccompanied recitative “Babylon was great city”), understated and heroic by turns: in this listener’s experience, only Denis Noble in the composer’s own first recording of the work is to be compared – Davies is absolutely right for this role. Robert Matthew-Walker, Classical Source

BRITTEN

Curlew River

Synod House, Cathedral of St John the Devine, New York

"the bass-baritone Neal Davies in a plaintive performance" The New York Times, Anthony Thommasini, 31 october 2014
"The supporting character is the Traveller, sung solidly by bass-baritone Neal Davies. The Traveller is a stand-in for the audience, watching the proceedings, beseeching the Ferryman to take the Madwoman across the river." New York Classical Review, George Grella, 30 October 2014

Oxford Lieder Festival 2014, Opening Concert

Sheldonian Theatre

...Italian settings of Metastasio which sound like numbers from a forgotten Rossini opera, to which Davies brought tremendous buffo energy.  Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Handel

Xerxes

English National Opera

Baritones Adrian Powter and Neal Davies provide, respectively, the peripheral slapstick and military gravitas... Michael Church, The Independent
Neal Davies brings a gravitas to commander Ariodates. Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk
Neal Davies and Adrian Powter were so ballsy in cameo roles that one wished the composer had given them more opportunities to strut their stuff. Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph
Neal Davies is bluff, hearty and in great voice as Ariodates, a Grand Old Duke of York general flanked by his old cronies. Richard Morrison, The Times
The smaller parts were exceptionally well cast; indeed, what purists would consider the truest Handelian voice of all those on stage was present in the Ariodates of Neal Davies, who showed those who so often enjoy his ‘The Trumpet shall sound’ that he is not just a great singer but an excellent actor. Music OMH, Melanie Eskenazi

Bach

St John Passion

Royal Albert Hall

...Neal Davies's assertive Christus... Tim Ashley, The Guardian
...Neal Davies’s handsome, authoritative Christus... Anna Picard, The Times
Neil Davies as Christ had an impressive stoic gravity Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph

Handel

Theodora

English Concert/Carnegie Hall and Barbican Centre

Mr. Davies’s finest singing was done in ‘Ye ministers of justice, lead them hence,’ Valens’s final aria in which both Theodora and Didymus are sent to their deaths.  Mr. Davies is the rare bass-baritone whose voice has no difficulties with either extremity of the range, and the evenness of the timbre throughout the tessitura demanded by Händel’s music was an impressive hallmark of Mr. Davies’s performance.   Joseph Newsome, Voix des arts
The bass-baritone Neal Davies sang with chilling conviction as the evil Valens, a snarl in his voice as he declared that the lovers should suffer. Vivien Schweitzer, New York Times
Neal Davies was the embodiment of the angry governor, without tipping into caricature. (We never needed surtitles for his arias, which couldn’t be said for everybody.)  Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph
When you have Sarah Connolly and Neal Davies in supporting roles you know you’re getting luxury casting. Each aria threw down a new technical gauntlet for the next soloist to match in creative da capo ornamentation or flexibility of coloratura runs... Neal Davies opened the show with some serious thundering, pitching Valens just the right side of a pantomime villain for his “Wracks, gibbets, sword and fire” – surely the finest consonant-spitting expostulation in the repertoire. He kept up the pace throughout, departing on a deliciously arbitrary, peevish death-sentence for the lovers. 
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk
Neal Davies entered into the spirit of the gung-ho Roman governor, threatening those wilful religionists with “Racks, gibbets, sword and fire”. Barry Millington, Evening Standard

Handel

Messiah

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

"...what a team of soloists Cohen had at his disposal: every one a star, with countertenor Tim Mead, tenor Benjamin Hulett, the fabulous bass Neal Davies, and glorious German soprano Lydia Teuscher, all in outstanding form." Michael Tumelty / Herald Scotland / 3 January 2014

Britten

Curlew River

Barbican Centre at St Giles Church, Cripplegate

Neal Davies, Gwynne Howell and Duncan Tarboton were ideal for the smaller roles of the Traveller, Abbot and Spirit of the Boy.
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph
Neal Davies's thoughtful Traveller and Gwynne Howell's sonorous Abbot drew us in almost as much as their voices.
Erica Jeal, The Guardian
Neal Davies added layers of enigma to the role of the Traveller Peter Reed, Classicalsource.com
Mark Stone as the Ferryman and Neal Davies as the Traveller sing strongly Richard Fairman, Financial Times

Mozart

Cosi fan tutte

Welsh National Opera

Neal Davies's showman Don Alfonso, lending more Punch-like dysfunctionality. Rian Evans, The Guardian

Charpentier

David et Jonathas

Aix-en-Provence Festival/Edinburgh Festival 2012

Neal Davies is a sonorous and tormented Saul Shirley Apthorp, Financial Times
Le conflit de souverains est relevé avec efficacité par Neal Davies, Saül Gilles Charlassier, Concerto.net
Neal Davies’s Saul was not only King of Israel but also king of the stage. Though his opposite number in the Philistine army (Frédéric Caton as Achis) was to beat him in battle, Davies was to win the battle of the voices. His Saul was troubled, grieving and difficult to handle. 
Kevin Holdsworth, Opera Britannia
There is nothing ugly in the performances, however, with Pascal Charbonneau (David), Neal Davies (Saul) and Frédéric Caton (the Philistine king, Achis) all excellent.
Mark Brown, The Telegraph
Neal Davies has a great range of emotion to portray as Saül - terror as the rooms change shape around him, anger, grief at the death of his wife and Jonathas's mother, spite, revenge … - and he does so convincingly.
Catriona Graham, The Opera Critic
Neal Davies is a sonorous Saul Kate Molleson, The Guardian

Gilbert and Sullivan

Mikado

Lyric Opera of Chicago

That said, once Andrew Shore’s Pooh-Bah and Neil Davies’ Ko-Ko enter the action, the evening takes off as we’re safely in the hands of British singers with veteran Savoyard experience, manifest in both men’s assured comic delivery and crisp enunication of Gilbert’s devilishly witty lyrics.
Lawrence A. Johnson, Chicago Classical Review

Mozart

The Magic Flute

Welsh National Opera

...but the irrepressibly high spirits injected by Neal Davies' "no worries" Papageno up the pantomime element in such a way that it's easy to see how the piece was such a knockout success with the Viennese audiences who flocked to the Theater auf der Wieden in 1791.
Rian Evans, The Guardian
Neal Davies returns to the role of Papageno with intelligent flair. This is a classy Mozartian interpretation, layering humorous dialogue with lightness of foot and wealth of tone. Davies is clearly in his natural habitat, creating a Papageno that rubs shoulders with the great exponents of this role. He understands the need to spin the vocal line through the sinewy demands of Mozart especially in the Act 1 duet with Pamina.  Little comic touches are plentiful and impeccably timed, but his overall portrayal by no means  relies on charming buffoonery. This is a Papageno of innate musicality, broad humour and delicate vulnerability. 
Bethan Dudley Fryar, Opera Britannia

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Recordings

Handel: Messiah

Dorothea Roschmann, soprano I
Susan Gritton, soprano II
Bernarda Fink, contralto
Charles Daniels, tenor
Neal Davies, bass

Gabrieli Consort & Players
Archiv Produktion

St John Passion

Polyphony/Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Stephen Layton

Ian Bostridge
Neal Davies
Carolyn Sampson
Iestyn Davies
Nicholas Mulroy
Roderick Williams
Hyperion

My Beloved Spake

Anthems by Henry Purcell and Pelham Humphrey

Choir of St John's College, Cambridge/St John's Sinfonia, Andrew Nesthingha

Iestyn Davies
James Gilchrist
Neal Davies
Chandos Records