Giles Davies as Jack Point in Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Yeomen of the Guard'.
Kentish Opera, 2023
"Giles Davies was a fine young(ish) Point, with white facial makeup and a first class voice. Although he was brisk and sprightly, he let his dialogue breathe". 'The Yeomen of the Guard', Kentish Opera. Sullivan Society Newsletter (2023)
Giles Davies – Bass Baritone / Actor
Giles Davies studied at the Purcell School of Music, and on a scholarship at the RCM with Norman Bailey, where he was the winner of the Lieder Competition. He was a prize-winner in the 1993 Overseas League, the 1994 Tillett Trust, and the 1999 AESS.
He has recorded for the BBC (Dichterliebe at the Wigmore Hall), and appeared with the late Richard Hickox (A Sea Symphony/Dido and Aeneas) Philip Pickett (Monteverdi’s Vespers) Trevor Pinnock (Handel’s Apollo and Dafne); Mahler’s 'Kindertotenlieder' (Ballet Rambert) and London Mozart Players. As a young actor Giles appeared as Hans in Massenet's 'Werther' and Puck in Britten’s 'A Midsummer Night’s Dream' at the ROH, and since then his many operatic roles have included the title role in ‘The Piano Tuner’ (Osborne/Holden), for MTW, receiving acclaim in the national press, (‘commanding’, ‘outstanding’, ‘sympathetic’, ‘rich and smooth toned’), and an onscreen appearance as John Goss in the film 'Peter Warlock, Some Little Joy.' (Signum DVD). His song album, Gossiana, dubbed ‘a mighty labour of love’ by International Record Review, is on Divine Art Records, and featured in the I-Tunes Traditional Christmas Chart in 2009. He also appears on the new recording of Edward German's 'Tom Jones' (Naxos), and has collaborated on the albums 'Illumination' and 'Temptation' with the Mediaeval Baebes.
Operatic roles include Figaro in Rossini's 'Barber of Seville' (Scottish Opera), English Pocket Opera), Dr Kolenaty in Janacek's 'Makropoulos Case' (Scottish Opera), Schaunard in 'La Boheme', (Castleward/ Holland Park Opera/ Scottish Opera), Falke in 'Die Fledermaus' (Crystal Clear and Carl Rosa), Figaro in Mozart's 'Marriage of Figaro' (Holland Park Opera), Besso in Cavalli's 'Giasone,' (Megaron, Athens), Dmitri in the European Premiere of Richard Wargo's 'The Music Shop', (Jigsaw Music Theatre), Ferryman/
Ananias/ Father in the 'Church Parables' of Britten, (Opera du Rhin, Strasbourg), 'Love's Labyrinth' with Opera Restor'd, (Wigmore Hall) Pish Tush in 'The Mikado', Strephon in 'Iolanthe' and Sir Richard in 'Yeomen of the Guard' (Carl Rosa Opera).
Other engagements have included Ariodates in Handel's 'Xerxes' (OTC), Dandini in Rossini's 'Cinderella', (Epoc), Giacinto in Galuppi's comedy 'Il mondo alla roversa', (NCO), Lord Chancellor in 'Iolanthe' (Buxton Opera House), Vaughan Williams' 'Five Mystical Songs', and a recital for the Franz Schubert Society (London). Concerts have included Mozart's C Minor Mass, Handel's Italian 'Acis, Galatea and Polyphemus', Haydn's 'The Creation', Purcell's 'Dido and Aeneas', and Viscomte Cascada in Lehar’s 'The Merry Widow' (Scottish Opera).
2010 and 2011 engagements included Pish-Tush in 'The Mikado' for Raymond Gubbay across the UK at the Barbican, RFH, Symphony Hall and Bridgewater Halls, Strephon in 'Iolanthe' (Buxton), Papageno in 'The Magic Flute' for Opera Brava, and Cavalli’s 'Erismena' at New College, Oxford.
2012 engagements included Bach’s 'St John Passion' and a Gala concert of Baroque music for the 25th Anniversary of Suffolk Villages Festival, Baron Douphol in Verdi’s 'La Traviata' (Garden Opera) and an appearance on ITV’S 'You Cannot be Serious.'
A CD of songs by Viardot-Garcia has been released alongside the book Years of Grace, (Cambridge Scholars Press) for which he also contributed the Preface.
2014 engagements have included Bach’s 'B Minor Mass' and Handel’s 'Messiah' (SVF). He has also appeared as Colonel Calverley in 'Patience' at the King’s Head Theatre in Charles Court Opera’s acclaimed new production, and as Cecil Graham in Oscar Wilde’s 'Lady Windermere’s Fan' at the Tabard Theatre, London, including onstage cabaret as singer, actor and pianist.
2015 engagements included the role of Saul in Charpentier’s David et
Jonathas at the Suffolk Villages Festival and Markar in the UK premiere of Tchoukhadian’s 1875 Opera Buffa 'Garine' at the Arcola Theatre.
2016-17 engagements have included the role of Seneca in Monteverdi’s 'L’Incoronazione di Poppea' at Suffolk Villages Festival, Bach Cantatas, Vaughan Williams’s 'Carol Fantasia' (St Alban’s), Venetian Vespers by Monteverdi and his contemporaries (Cambridge), and a Lieder recital for the Franz Schubert Society. (London)
In 2018 he appeared as Maximillian and other character roles in Leonard Bernstein's 'Candide' with Surrey Opera at the MinackTheatre, Cornwall.
He also appeared as Don Bartolo in Mozart's 'Le Nozze di Figaro' at Theatre Royal Portsmouth with Beechwood Opera. He returns to Surrey Opera as the Judge in Gilbert and Sullivan's Operetta 'Trial by Jury'.
2019 engagements have included songs by Peter Warlock at the Guard's Chapel, London, accompanied by the Countess of Wessex's Orchestra. He has also appeared in the role of Don Bartolo in Rossini's 'Il Barbiere di Siviglia' with the Scherzo Ensemble, and as Doctor Spinelloccio and Amantio di Nicolao in Puccini's One Act Operatic Comedy 'Gianni Schicchi' for Lunchbreak Opera, including performances at the Bridewell Theatre and King's Head Theatre, London.
In Autumn 2021 he appeared in the premiere of the new Opera 'Madeleine', (Hackbridge Johnson / Jonathan Butcher) with Surrey Opera. He was interviewed live on air by BBC Radio Jersey / BBC Sounds discussing his involvement in the roles of James Smith and the Counsel for the Prosecution.
Giles also featured on the new Mediaeval Baebes (UK) album 'Prayers of the Rosary', released for Christmas, 2020, which has been featured on BBC Radio 6. Engagements for 2022 have included Leporello in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' for Surrey Opera (London and Cornwall).
He has also appeared with New Sussex Opera in Offenbach's 'The Princess of Trebizonde' (5 Stars - Opera Now Magazine), and 'La Belle Lurette', critically acclaimed by Opera Magazine. In 2023, appearances have included Jack Point in Gilbert and Sullivan's 'The Yeomen of the Guard' with Kentish Opera, and Sir John Middleton in 'Sense and Sensibility', the musical with Surrey Opera. He returned to Kentish Opera for their fully staged and costumed summer Gala at Chiddingstone Castle, Kent, performing the roles of Papageno, Count Almaviva, Rigoletto and the Lord Chancellor. Kentish Opera are winners of the Noda award for best Opera production in the South East of England, 2022. His translation of the French Mediaeval Chanson 'L'amour de moi', is published by Fand Music Publishing, Sheet Music Publisher of the year, 2023.
In August he was interviewed on the Alison Moss show on BBC Radio Jersey, discussing historic recordings and recent stage productions. He was also featured
on BBC Radio 6, on Iggy Pop's show in 'Pater Noster' by Katharine Blake.
He recently appeared as Sir Joseph Porter in 'HMS Pinafore' (Grim's Dyke Opera). Forthcoming performances include the Lord Chancellor in 'Iolanthe' (Opera Anywhere). At Christmas he will join the Allegri Singers as soloist in Vaughan Williams'
'Fantasia on Christmas Carols', and Finzi's 'In Terra Pax'.
Questions and Answers with Giles Davies
Kentish Opera speed interview / 24th June 2023
For those of you who either missed or enjoyed Giles' fantastic performance as Jack Point with Kentish Opera earlier this year - the good news is that he is going to be returning to sing with us on 2nd July at Chiddingstone Castle, and will be including one of Gilbert & Sullivan's most taxing patter songs in his repertoire. Below are some quick-fire questions with Giles about what he enjoys singing most, what he listens to when not performing and a few other interesting bits and pieces.
Let's start by asking you what your favourite opera is?
That's obviously a very difficult question! My favourites would all have to be Mozart, to be honest - Così fan tutte, Le nozze di Figaro, Don Giovanni... My favourite of his scores is an opera seria that he wrote - Idomeneo; it was very ahead of its time, drawing from Haydn and Gluck but foreshadowing music that was to come from Berlioz, Rossini, Donizetti... Interestingly, it was the only Mozart opera that Benjamin Britten ever conducted. I am also a big fan of Les Contes d'Hoffmann and have always loved the Powell & Pressburger film.
Is there any role you've not performed that you would like to?
Don Alfonso in Così fan tutte. He is an interesting amalgam of the Count from Figaro and Don Giovanni. I like the way he becomes worldly-wise about people, and he gets to sing some of the best ensembles ever written.
What do you really like listening to?
Lots of things... Haydn, Mozart, Schubert, Schumann, Brahms, Bach, Handel, Rossini and the early Romantics put my soul back together.
What would have been your 'Plan B' career if you weren't a performer?
I would have also loved to have been involved with cinematography or directing films. In many ways, my enjoyment of film was what sparked my interest in performing - I also like the 'overview' aspect of directing in film-making and the editing ability, which is very far from what you get on stage! So I am always thinking about the overview of a show and how it comes across.
You've mentioned Powell & Pressburger's The Tales of Hoffmann - which other films are particular favourites?
I am a big Hitchcock fan - particularly North by Northwest, Vertigo (Bernard Herrmann is one of my favourite composers so that helps with that one) and Rear Window. Another film I particularly like which combines opera and excellent film-making is Ingmar Bergman's film of The Magic Flute. It's absolutely extraordinary and I would urge anyone interested in either the film-making or operatic side to watch it.
Another opera question - Verdi or Wagner?
Verdi is the greater dramatist, no question - look at Don Carlos, Falstaff, Otello, Aida...
Where do you like going on holiday?
We usually go to the Channel Islands - I love cycling and you can cycle offroad there. We also visit relatives, the World War Two Tunnel Museum and Durrell Wildlife Park.
What do you do when you're not rehearsing/performing?
I sleep! And I like revisiting favourite books, films and recordings. I collect 78 records - you can find lots of excellent ones in charity shops and house clearances. I also have five pre-electric gramophones, including from Colombia, Decca and HMV, all in working order. They all have pitch dials so you can control them if a recording feels too fast/slow which wasn't uncommon in a less standardised era - is this getting too technical...?
Giles performed music from Mozart's The Magic Flute, The Marriage of Figaro, Gilbert & Sullivan's Iolanthe and Verdi's Rigoletto at our recent summer Gala.