Complete Bio: Joy Davidson

Joy DavidsonJOY DAVIDSON, Mezzo-Soprano, Professor of Music Emeritus, New World School of the Arts; Actor.

Since her debut in the role of Cinderella in Rossini La Cenerentola in 1965 with Greater Miami Opera, Joy Davidson has performed some 45 roles throughout Europe and North America, including appearances with the Metropolitan Opera, Vienna Staatsoper, Munich Staatsoper, La Scala Milano, Teatro Regio, Maggio Musicale, New York City Opera, Netherlands Opera, Welsh National Opera, Madrid Opera, Teatro Liceo, Rio de Janiero, Opera de Lyon, San Francisco Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Dallas Civic Opera, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Vancouver Operas, and many other regional opera companies in the U.S. and Canada.

Her signature role has been that of Bizet’s Carmen, which she has performed more than 300 times.

Other frequently performed roles: Dalila (Samson et Dalila, Saint Saens) Adalgisa (Norma, Bellini) Charlotte (Werther, Massenet) the leading Verdi mezzo-soprano roles, and the leading roles in the operas of Menotti, Penderecki and Stravinsky. Miss Davidson has sung two world premiers and several American premiers of operatic works. She has also appeared in the great comprimario roles such as Mamma Lucia (Cavalleria Rusticana, Mascagni) Berta in Il Barbiere di Siviglia (Rossini) and the Marquise in La Fille du Regiment (Donizetti). Her farewell operatic performance was as Gertrude in the 1995 Florida Grand Opera production of Romeo et Juliette (Gounod).

Miss Davidson has been a frequent guest soloist with major orchestras such as Boston, Los Angeles, New York Philharmonic, the Leningrad Philharmonic and the Orchestra of the Maggio Musicale. Best known were her appearances as alto soloist in the orchestral works of Mahler, Stravinsky, Ravel and Beethoven. She was also a concert and recital artist for Columbia Artists Community Concert Association.

Throughout her career Miss Davidson has been a judge and adjudicator for local and national competitions such as the Metropolitan Opera Regional Auditions. She has given numerous Master Classes, particularly in audition and competition preparation. She and Dr. Bonnie Robson, M.D. of Toronto Hospital for Sick Children have published a paper entitled “I’m not ready yet: overcoming audition anxiety in the young musician.”

National competitions for which Miss Davidson has judged are the Dealy Awards in Dallas, the Boca Raton, Palm Beach and Florida Grand Opera Young Artist competitions, as well as numerous university and NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singers) competitions. May, 2004, she was part of the panel judging the first Singers Convention and Competition sponsored by Classical Singer Magazine. At the convention she also presented three workshops: “How to Give a Master Class”, “How to Make Career Transitions” and “How to Know When the Party is Over.”

Miss Davidson has been a Master Teacher in numerous high schools, colleges and universities and continues to offer her services in this capacity in conjunction with her theatrical appearances. November, 2009, Joy gave a Master Class for the vocal students at Colorado State University and the Young Artists of Opera Fort Collins (Colorado). Because her performance of MARIA: The Life and Loves of Maria Callas (Alma H. Bond) was underwritten by private donors, the proceeds from the play were given to the Young Artists of Opera Fort Collins to fund presentations in Opera Education in 30 elementary schools in Fort Collins.

Following retirement from the operatic and concert stage, Miss Davidson headed the department of vocal/opera studies in the Music Division of New World School of the Arts, Miami, Florida, where she began teaching in 1989. In addition to designing a curriculum specific to students seeking a professional career in serious vocal music, she taught voice, lyric diction, sacred and symphonic vocal literature, vocal pedagogy, opera history, and directed the Opera Theatre Ensemble. She produced and directed twice yearly opera productions, a total of 30.

1995, the Opera Theatre Ensemble toured Italy, giving performances in the opera houses in Carpi, Reggio Emilia, Scandiano and Guastala. Touring China in 2001 the Opera Theatre Ensemble performances in Beijing and Shanghai. The highlight of the tour was a day of cultural exchange with the Peking Opera Institute. The students exchanged performances, costume and make-up traditions. This was the first exchange of Western opera traditions that the Peking Institute had experienced in its history.

The Opera Theatre Ensemble made yearly tours of high schools in the State of Florida for purposes of recruitment, as well as to give the opera students touring performance experience. The students gave‹numerous public performances in the greater Miami area to raise the awareness of the public for the NWSA Conservatory (a four year college program) and to raise money for their various international tours. Prior to Miss Davidson’s retirement in the spring of 2002, the Opera Theatre Ensemble toured New York, giving performances in several area high schools, and attending performances at the Metropolitan, New York City Opera and several Broadway shows.

Miss Davidson was named a recipient of the Charles A. and Carrie Mastronardi Endowed Chair for 1995-1998. In addition NISOD named Miss Davidson a recipient of the 1996 Excellence award for outstanding “contribution to teaching and learning. She also received the coveted Robert Rymer Balfe “Shooting Star” award from the Florida Grand Opera for her lifetime commitment and achievement in Opera Education.

In 1999 Joy appeared as Maria Callas in the Tony Award Winning Play, Master Class by Terrence McNally. A review of these performances in Montgomery, Alabama was headlined: “Virtuosic performance sustains production of Master Class. Theater critic Allan Swafford wrote: “To call Joy Davidson’s Callas bravura creation is simply to understate her accomplishments so various in her exploration of the Callas persona that we are not allowed to disconnect from the performance. She binds us to this character by chains of fascination … Brava, la Divina….”

MARIA: The Life and Loves of Maria Callas,  by Alma H. Bond, gave Joy a second role as Maria Callas, which ran for several months in 2000 in Greenwich Village, New York, directed by Eddie Lew. This play has evolved into a one-woman drama edited and directed by Bill Taylor of Theatre Conspiracy of Fort Myers, Florida. Miss Davidson has performed this tour-de-force at the Dramatists Guild in New York; the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, Florida (sold out two performances); Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado; the Williams, New York City and a sold out performance at the Kravis/Rinker Center for the Arts, West Palm Beach Florida.

March 25, 2010, Joy premiered a newly revised version of ALICE: An Evening with the Tart-Tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth by Kitty Felde at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, Florida. Ms. Felde joined Miss Davidson for a question and answer period following each of the three performances. ALICE  was presented at the Dramatist Guild in N.Y. January 2011, and subsequently was selected for 5 performances at the Capitol Fringe Festival in Washington, D.C., July, 14, 16, 21, 22, 23, 2011. This production was directed by Stevie Zimmerman and Will Cooke performed the role of TR. Playwright, Kitty Felde produced. ALICE was enthusiastically received by Fringe audiences and  critics and sold out.

In addition to the one woman tour de force, a theatrical specialty for Miss Davidson, she recently was awarded rave reviews for the role of  THE NURSE in Medea (Euripedes/Jeffers) in a production presented by Theatre Conspiracy: Producer and Director, Bill Taylor. Chris Silk, Naples Daily News Theatre Critic wrote: “Friday night’s audience gasped in horror at the tale – such is the power of her storytelling. Don’t miss Joy Davidson’s withering words as the Nurse.”  Drew Sterwald in News Press (Ft. Myers) wrote,”She is a marvel of precise speech and compressed emotions. Here’s hoping we see more of her.”

Tea at Five  (Matthew Lombardo) is the third of the one-woman “tour de force” in Davidson’s theatrical repertoire. Lombardo’s 90 minute monologue captures the fiery spirit of Katharine Hepburn during two periods of her life: 1938 and 1983. Performances at the Daniels Pavilion of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, Florida were presented March 11/12, 2012. Directed and produced by Annette Trossbach, artistic director of  The Laboratory Theater of Florida. Chris Silk. Theater Critic of the Naples Daily News writes of the first act, Hepburn at age 31:  “Davidson skips ladylike around the simple set, pouring tea, chatting on the phone and telling stories. Telling stories is what the actress does best because she gets to use that marvelous, beautiful, amazing, mellifluous opera-trained voice that draws you into the action so easily.”  These performances marked 60 years on the theatrical stage for Davidson.

Joy and husband, Dr. Rob, now retired from 40 years in psychology services at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Miami, have five children. Lisa, the eldest daughter is a Methodist minister, presently assigned to Habitat for Humanity. She and husband Brooke, have two children, Nicholas and Jessie and reside in North Naples, Florida. Scott is a financial advisor for Ameriprise Financial Services. He and Anja have four daughters and reside in Boone, North Carolina. Jeremy is a software engineer for SunFire/Vi-Tech and resides in Bend, Oregon with wife, Courtney who is a colleague at SunFire. Their daughter, Claire was born in 2011. Bonnie is Director of Education at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, FL and is married to Aaron Thayer. They have two sons. Jordan Davidson is an audio/engineer and music producer in Orlando Florida and works for Universal Studios.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

About Joy Davidson

Joy Davidson, mezzo-soprano, began her career with a professional debut in Rossini’s Cenerentola with Greater Miami Opera and went on to sing 45 roles throughout Europe and North America. Since her retirement from the operatic and concert stage, Joy has returned to the theatre with performances as Maria Callas in MASTER CLASS (Terrance McNally) and two one woman dramas: MARIA: The Life and Loves of Maria Callas (Alma H. Bond) and ALICE: An Evening with the Tart-Tongued Alice Roosevelt Longworth (Kitty Felde). Recent performances of these plays have been at the Philharmonic Center for the Arts, Naples, Florida, the Kravis/Rinker Center for the Arts, West Palm Beach, FL and Colorado State University in conjunction with Opera Fort Collins. ALICE sold out 5 performances at the Capital Fringe Festival, Washington D.C. July, 2011. Miss Davidson garnered rave reviews for her performance as the NURSE in MEDEA (Euripedes/Jeffers) for Theatre Conspiracy in March 2011. The Philharmonic Center for the Arts presented Miss Davidson in another one-woman tour de force, TEA AT FIVE (Matthew Lombardo), which captures the fiery spirit of Katharine Hepburn, March 11, 12, 2012.