Mezzo-soprano Raehann Bryce-Davis makes her hotly anticipated Opera Philadelphia debut as Lizzie in the world premiere of Rene Orth’s 10 Days in a Madhouse. The opera, with libretto by Hannah Moscovitch, directed by Joanna Settle and conducted by Daniela Candillari runs from 21 – 30 September, 2023
Opera Philadelphia writes:
“10 Days in a Madhouse is a psychological opera that plays with notions of madness. Inspired by the life of Nellie Bly, a trailblazing reporter who in 1887 faked madness in order to be admitted to Blackwell’s Asylum for the Insane and to report in conditions from the inside. Once inside the madhouse, Nellie encountered women whose poverty, race, and grief over past traumas had been mistaken for madness. Nellie herself immediately dropped her “mad act” – troublingly, none of the medical staff noticed or were able to identify her as sane. When Nellie was released from the asylum after 10 days, she penned a famed exposé detailing the appalling conditions in which the madwomen were kept. Nellie claimed that the conditions were so poor and the mistreatment of the mentally ill was so egregious that they could drive a sane person mad.
“The opera opens on a madwoman who, according to the asylum’s Doctor, is paranoiac and psychotic. She hears voices, fabricates threats, and imagines she is someone she’s not. Nellie, seen through the lens of one of the asylum’s leading medical professionals, Doctor Blackwell, is mad. But is she?
“10 Days in a Madhouse exposes – as Nellie Bly herself did – the feminization of madness, the bias of doctors against the sanity of women, and how the systems and social structures in which women find themselves induce madness.”
Raehann Bryce-Davis has been hailed by The New York Times as a “striking mezzo soprano” and by the San Francisco Chronicle for her “electrifying sense of fearlessness.” Additional 2023/24 opera highlights include her return to the Metropolitan Opera as Ella in the new Robert O’Hara production of Anthony Davis’s groundbreaking and influential opera, X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X, conducted by Kazem Abdullah; and to Dutch National Opera as La Zia Principessa and La Frugola in Barrie Kosky’s production of Il Trittico, conducted by Lorenzo Viotti. Concert highlights include her role debut as Fricka in a new semi-staged production of Wagner’s Das Rheingold, with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by Gustavo Dudamel; Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with The Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor Jaime Martín; and her first performances of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde at Philharmonie Luxembourg, conducted by Duncan Ward. Ms. Bryce-Davis will also give recitals in Washington, DC; San Francisco and Pacific Palisades CA and Amherst, MA.
Ms. Bryce-Davis is a 2018 recipient of the prestigious George London Award at the George London Competition; the 2017 1st Place and Audience Prize-winner of the Concorso Lirico Internazionale di Portofino competition, chaired by Dominique Meyer; winner of the 2016 Richard F. Gold Career Grant at the Merola Opera Program; winner of the 2015 Hilde Zadek Competition at the Musikverein in Vienna; and the 2015 Sedat Gürel – Güzin Gürel International Voice Competition in Istanbul. She holds a Master of Music and Professional Studies certificate from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Texas at Arlington.