Beca Davies – Singing in the New Year

18 December 2023

Welsh National Opera’s upcoming concert series, A Viennese Celebration is, in our opinion, the perfect way to kick-start the New Year. Offering a rich array of music, from rhythmical orchestral waltzes and polkas to characterful and emotive arias and duets, we caught up with WNO Associate Artist Beca Davies to get an insight into the concert and her time with the Company. 

This concert marks the halfway point as my time as a Welsh National Opera Associate Artist. I joined the Company back in August and went straight into rehearsals for Ainadamar - a spectacular Spanish fusion of dance, opera, electronic and acoustic music. I loved my time working on this show as it was such a great opportunity to hone new skills and to gain insight into new ways of performing and experiencing opera. 

A concert, however, is a different ball game. When preparing an opera, the rehearsal period allows you to develop your character, their psychology, relationships, and the story - with props, sets and costumes to play with. In a concert setting, the imagination needs to work in a different way as you don’t traditionally have any material to set the scene. For me, this means finding a different way to engage with the audience to allow the storytelling to come across as compelling and authentic as possible.

The music in this concert will already be familiar to people, with a great deal of it having been used in popular culture. For example, Schubert’s Ave Maria can be heard three times in DC’s new comic book film, The Batman. The film opens with Tiffin’s boys choir singing the piece in Latin (a version also in our collective imagination thanks to Pavarotti’s rendering of it). I will, however, be singing the piece as it appears in Schubert’s original song cycle - a setting of seven songs from Walter Scott's 1810 poem, The Lady of the Lake, translated into German. 

One of my personal musical highlights from this concert will be Prince Orlofky’s aria Ich lade gern from Johann Strauss II’s opera, Die Fledermaus. During this point in the opera, we are at a grand ball, hosted by the Prince himself, and he tells everyone to enjoy the party as he does, with plenty of wine. This piece is performed annually at the Vienna State Opera on New Year’s Eve, so I’m looking forward to bringing this Viennese gem to audiences across Wales and England.

There are several places on tour that are new to me, including Hall for Cornwall, Truro. I can’t wait to explore that part of the world and to connect with the city through music. I’m also looking forward to going to St David’s - I feel very lucky to be performing in the awe-inspiring cathedral.’

WNO Orchestra’s A Viennese Celebration tours to Swansea, Truro, Newtown, Bangor, Brecon, Southampton, Cardiff and St Davids between 4-20 January 2024.