ENO’s Duke has died

English National Opera has announced the death of Arthur Davies who played the Duke in Jonathan Miller’s indelible production of Rigoletto – in both the first run and five subsequent revivals.

He was 77.

Among Arthur’s other ENO roles between 1981 and 1997 were Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni, Gabrielle Adorno in Simon Boccanegra, Lensky in Eugene Onegin and the title roles of Faust and Werther.


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  • He also filmed A Village Romeo and Juliet (with Mackerras) and left a studio recording of the Verdi with a different Gilda from the 1982 film (both with Elder). He recorded Troilus and Cressida (Hickox), Příhody lišky Bystroušky (Tales of Vixen Sharp-Ears), and The Greek Passion (Mackerras).

    • Strictly speaking he only sound-recorded A Village Romeo and Juliet with Mackerras – the film roles was acted (somewhat embarrassingly badly) by a Czech stunt double.

      RIP AD

  • In the EMI studio recording in1983 and released in 1984, HelenField sang the role of Gilda. In the 1982 film, Gilda was sung by Marie McLaughlin. The film was of a live performance – in fact, it was the third performance in September 1982.

  • I and many others will miss Arthur immensely – he was a wonderful friend and colleague, a wonderful singer with a wonderful voice – as I said to my dear friend Susan Bullock – who sang the role of Gilda with myself and Arthur in 1985 – when Arthur sang, the sun always shone …..!
    We all have glorious memories of our time together and Arthur, with his twinkling smile, will be with us forever…….

      • Thank you so much Craig – your words mean a great deal to me. That wonderful production meant so much to us all – we all were captivated by it, we became slaves to its success! I know it changed my view on the role of Rigoletto forever …!

  • He was a wonderful singer and a fine and friendly man.

    Peter Katona once said he was the only non-Italian tenor who could genuinely kid him into believing he was a native. Many lovely memories of he and Maureen, and Maureen’s truly terrifying driving.

    He was an exceptional Gerontius. At one performance at Ampleforth, one of the elderly brothers – a lifelong scholar of Newman – became transfixed. As Arthur sang ‘Take Me Away’, the old man burst into inconsolable sobs.


  • I met Arthur in Cardiff through friends back in the 1980s. Lovely man and versatile singer. As John Rawnsley notes that smile was beguiling.

  • Very sad that such a wonderful singer is no longer with us.

    But does anyone have an address for Maureen, and details of the funeral?

    • Hi Julian,
      Sadly, I don’t have an address for Maureen and I understand that the funeral is to be for family only…….

      • Dear John,
        Many thanks for you swift response. Much appreciated. I will pass this on to my old colleagues at WNO.
        With all good wishes,

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