Opera Sensation Iestyn Davies Debuts on Broadway

Steve Adubato goes one-on-one with opera sensation, Iestyn Davies, about his Broadway debut in “Farinelli and the King.”

2/1/18 #2108






"Wow. That was, and this is, Iestyn Davies, a countertenor who is performing here in Farinelli and the King, playing over at the Belasco Theatre, on West 44th Street. Wow. Thank you. Describe what a countertenor is. In its simplest form, it's male falsetto. But male falsetto is used by lots of singers. And not always all the time. So you might hear a pop singer who sings their falsetto range right at the top to achieve an effect, or at some different color. Whereas what I do is sing all the time in my falsetto range. And I suppose most of the stuff I do is opera or classical concerts. I'm singing repertoire that would have been sung by the castrati in the 18th century. So lots of Handel opera was written for men who unfortunately were castrated deliberately in order to preserve their high voice, but then their body sort of went a bit crazy, and they had this power of a tenor let's say. But with a treble tone. And... so their range matches what we can sing as countertenors today. Your voice? Yeah. When did you know that this would be the range that you would have? Or did you? It was something that crept up on me. I'd sung as a boy, so I'd had that feeling of what it's like to perform. Where? In a choir in Cambridge. In Cambridge University they have chapel choirs, and I was at St John's College, Cambridge. And I did that for six years. And then your voice breaks. And I had fumbled around singing a bit of base. My speaking voice, as you can hear, is quite low. Yes it is. And the good news is that a low speaking voice, often translates well into having a falsetto range that they'd asked me about the science of it, but it's a higher... But it does? A higher speaking, a higher tenorial voice. If you get a tenor to sing in that falsetto, that falsetto tends to be much higher anyway. So I discovered I could sing in my countertenor range kind of by accident. I was bored at school. We were singing something in a school chamber choir, and it came upon me, and I thought, "That feels really nice." So I went and explored it. And somebody said it sounds alright. And it was the first time when a spotlight came back on again, which had gone off after my voice had broken. And it suddenly felt special and different again. And that's really why I sing. Because it makes you feel good inside. And the added bonus of making other people feel good by enjoying it, is, you know, just a privilege. When did you fall in love with opera? Later on actually..."