Brilliance and potential rewarded: Wexford continues commitment to young talent with two bursaries
Wexford Festival Opera ended its 62nd season with a further contribution to the careers of two young artists. Irish soprano Jennifer Davis was awarded the prestigious Gerard Arnhold Award on the final night of this year’s festival, just as the final curtain fell on the last performance of Jacopo Foroni’s Cristina, regina di Svezia. Meanwhile, Cátia Moreso, a young mezzo soprano from Portugal, was the recipient of the equally coveted Aria Friends bursary. Both awards were presented by Artistic Director David Agler from the stage in front of the capacity crowd on the final night of the Festival, Sunday, 4 November.
Jennifer Davis moved to Cahir, Co. Tipperary at the age of 11, after living in England previously. She first studied English Literature in University College Dublin, but soon became more involved in musical performance after graduating. She joined an amateur musical society in Clonmel, where she played the role of Yum-Yum in their production of The Mikado. This experience inspired her to pursue singing as a career.
Since then, Jennifer has gone on to become a semi-finalist in the Hans Gabor Belvedere International Singing Competition in Vienna and an alumna of Opera Theatre Company’s YAA programme. It’s not the first time her talent has been recognised – Jennifer was also the 2013 winner of the Bernadette Greevy Bursary from the National Concert Hall. During this year’s Wexford Festival Opera, Jennifer sang the role of Adina in L’Elisir d’Amore by Gaetano Donizetti. She also sang as a chorus member in Il Cappello di paglia di Firenze and Cristina, regina di Svezia.
Cátia first studied Interior Design in Lisbon, before beginning vocal training at the Lisbon Conservatoire. She continued her theatrical and musical training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (GSMD) where she obtained a B. Mus and Masters Degree (Opera Course). After graduating from the National Opera Studio, she went on to perform in a series of international productions. During last year’s Wexford Festival Opera, she appeared in A Village Romeo and Juliet by Delius and the ShortWorks production of the The Magic Flute by Mozart. This year, Cátia took on the principal role of Hanna Wilson-Tracy in Richard Wargo’s Losers, a one-act operetta based on the play by Brian Friel. She also performed in the chorus in the mainstage productions of Il Cappello di paglia di Firenze and Cristina, regina di Svezia.
Artistic Director of Wexford Festival Opera, David Agler, said: “Both of the winners have the potential to have excellent careers in opera and recital. They have winning personalities, determination, imagination and, most importantly, beautiful voices.”
This year marks the third annual presentation of the Gerard Arnhold Award, which is generously donated by his son, Anthony. In 2012, it was presented to Anna Jeruc-Kopec, who went on to play Violetta in this year’s Wexford production of La Traviata. It is the first year that the Aria Friends Bursary has been presented at Wexford Festival Opera. This award is supported thanks to the support of the Aria Friends of the Festival. The bursary awards go to cover the many costs associated with their professional development.