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Benjamin Davis PhD, MA, Cert TESOL, BA(Hons)


Tel: 01267 676767

Module leader for BMus Presenting Performance

From Bath, England, Ben Davis studied English and related literature at the University of York with an Erasmus scholarship to study French Literature and Modern Art in Saint Étienne. He has an MA in Theatre Directing from Goldsmiths’ College, London, where he specialised in carnivalesque through a research project in Rio and Salvador Bahia, Brazil. Early in his career, he taught EAP at Schiller International University alongside working in theatres on the London Fringe and at the Edinburgh Festival before joining Welsh National Opera as a Staff Director from 2001-2012. At WNO, he assisted established directors on national touring productions, directed many revivals as well as education projects, his own community-based and main stage productions. Since 2012, he has enjoyed an international freelance career as a stage director, working with regional and national opera companies and festivals in the UK, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands, Malta, Canada, North America, and China.

Alongside his career as an opera director, Ben Davis completed his doctoral thesis in 2020: a practice-based study on Performing Realism in contemporary opera productions, sponsored by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama, within the School of

Music at Cardiff University, where he is also an Associate Researcher. He has been based in Wales for over 20 years, regularly teaching within the UK HE sector whilst developing a professional practice and research interest in contemporary forms of performance.

  • AGMA and Canadian Equity as an Opera Director

Associate Researcher

Cardiff University School of Music                                                     

Co-organiser, presenter, and facilitator of post-graduate interdisciplinary workshops between Schools of MLANG and MUSIC with CIRO (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Opera and Drama) and WNO in 2018, 2019 and 2021, 2022:

‘Ralph Koltai: Life and Adventures of an Enemy Alien. An interdisciplinary workshop extravaganza!’ at Cardiff University, 20th March 2018.

‘Understanding Opera: Adventures in Surtitling’ at Wales Millennium Centre, March 2019

‘The Languages of Opera, Translation and Adaptation: A Creative Workshop’, March 2021 and March 2022

‘Making Bhekizizwe’, a digital film production of an operatic monodrama, May 2021

Associate Lecturer  

Cardiff University School of Music                                                   

Teaching and assessment on undergraduate modules: ‘The Business of Opera’, ‘Nineteenth century Italian Opera’, ‘Repertoire Studies’, and ‘From Page to Stage’

University of the Arts London                                                     

BA Acting and Performance, BA Contemporary Theatre: teaching across 2 digital productions and lectures on Page to Stage, Contemporary Realisms, and Resistance to Production in Performance delivered across 3 blended learning modules

University of Wales Trinity Saint David                                    

MA Advanced Vocal Studies, bespoke acting classes designed and delivered 

BMus Presenting Performance module leader

  • Performance as orienteering 
  • Practice as Research
  • A/r/tography 
  • Gender and performance
  • Liminality
  • Dialogical and critical realism
  • Material and immaterial cultural performance
  • Contemporary opera productions

 International Opera Awards

  • World Premiere, working as collaborateur artistique à la mise-en-scène for Written On Skin, by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp, at Festival Aix-en-Provence.
  • DVD, working as Revival Director for Gianni Schicchi, by Giacomo Puccini, as part of Il Trittico at ROH Covent Garden.


Over twenty years working as a professional opera director and revival director across a broad range of repertoire from studio projects to concert platforms, to major opera houses and international festivals, such as those in Cardiff, Salzburg, Aix-en-Provence, Amsterdam, and Beijing.

Specialism in staging and semi-staging contemporary opera, which has included Martin Crimp and George Benjamin’s International Opera Award-winning world premiere of Written On Skin as well as the UK premiere of the transgender-themed As One, by Laura Kaminsky, Kimberley Reed and Mark Campbell, and both the digital and live world premieres of Bhekizizwe, by Robert Fokkens and Mkhululi Mabija.

Also experienced in directing live performance for recorded media such as TV, internet, and cinema broadcast.

Lecturer and Guest Director at Conservatoires in the UK                                                                               

  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama                              
  • MA and BA Design for Performance Projects (Opera)
  • Opera Scenes                                                                                                              
  • National Opera Studio residencies with Welsh National Opera                            
  • Productions for Royal Conservatoire of Scotland Opera School:
  • ‘Sir John in Love’ by Vaughn Williams
  • ‘La Rondine’, by Giacomo Puccini
  • Arts-based consultancy for Cardiff University Innovation and Engagement project around Bhekizizwe
  • Industry Steering Committee member, Bath Spa University, Dept. of Performing Arts
  • Specialist Consultant to Bath Spa University, Dept. of Performing Arts Foundation Degree Course


-Book Chapter: ‘Semi-staging Written On Skin: an experiment in the ‘doubleness’ of lived experience and unfolding performative invention’ in The Routledge Companion to Autoethnography and Self-Reflexivity in Music Studies, eds C. Wiley and P. Gouzouasis, (London: Routledge, 2023).

-Book Chapter: ‘Staging Ariodante: cultural cartographies and dialogical performance’ in Musical Spaces: Place, Performance and Power, Eds James Williams, Samuel Horlor (New York: Jenny Stanford Publishing, 2022)

-PhD Thesis: ‘Performing Realism: a practice-led study of contemporary realism in the staging of opera’ (2020) Available online 

-‘Ralph Koltai: Life and Adventures of an Enemy Alien. An interdisciplinary workshop extravaganza!’ in 100 Objects #16 Research at the School of Music

-Article: ‘Faith on the London Fringe’ in Irish Studies Review, Vol.4 1996 Issue 14, published online in 2008, available at: 

Opera Programme Articles:

Bhekizizwe, ‘Staging Bhekizizwe: It takes a village…’, Opera’r Ddraig, Wales 2022: 

The Queen of Spades, ‘Obsession and collision in Tchaikovsky’s The Queen of Spades’, Feature Article and Director’s Note, Lyric Opera of Chicago, USA 2020 

Ariodante ‘Director’s Note’, Lyric Opera of Chicago, USA 2019

Ariodante ‘Director’s Note’, Canadian Opera Company 2016

Cosi fan tutte, ‘The Arabian Phoenix’, Welsh National Opera 2011 and 2012

Hansel and Gretel, ‘Director’s Note’, Portland Opera, USA 2010

Il trittico, ‘Time is essential’, Opera Zuid, Netherlands 2007

Online Production Insight and Interview Material:

Inside Opera: Ariodante at Canadian Opera Company, 2016:

WNO Guides: Cosi fan tutte, 2011: 

Director of studio-based film version of Bhekizizwe which premiered in 2021 with BBC online as part of the International Festival of Voice.

Conference committee member for ‘Musical Mapping’ Study Day at Cardiff University, 18th June 2019, sponsored by British Academy and Leverhulme Trust

Academic conference papers and presentations:

‘Lifting Realism off the Floor’, at OBERTO conference on ‘Operatic Acting’ at Oxford Brookes University.

Cardiff University School of Music:

Bird Lecture:

‘Finding Hannah “in-between”: an experiment in liminality and a/r/tography around the event of the UK premiere of As One, featuring transgender dancer Jarry Glavin, for Lontano Festival of American Music in London 2021.

‘Opera as Diamond Ring and Other Valuables’ following interview-based ethnographies with opera professionals

‘Dialogue as a research methodology’

Khovanshchina and the Centenary of the Russian Revolution’ following my revival of Sir David Poutney’s production for WNO