Born in Mid Wales, Mezzo-soprano Rebecca studied at The Guildhall School of Music & Drama & The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she was awarded the Independent Opera Scholarship, The WCOM Allcard Award, The MBF Sybil Tutton Award, became a Samling Artist and graduated with distinction. Whilst at the RCS, she sang Cherubino Le nozze di Figaro, The Composer Ariadne auf Naxos (Rostov State Theatre, Russia), The Muse / Nicklausse Les contes d’Hoffmann and Maria Akhrossimova War and Peace. She began her career as Scottish Opera Emerging Artist for her first season, making her professional debut in the title role of Carmen.
She made her company and role debut with Welsh National Opera as Countess Geschwitz Lulu, returning as an Associate Artist to sing roles including Anna Kennedy Maria Stuarda, Lola Cavalleria Rusticana, Suzuki Madama Butterfly, Beggar Woman Sweeney Todd and Flora Bervoix La traviata, as well as covering Sara Roberto Devereux and Fenena Nabucco.
Elsewhere, her engagements have included Louhi Swanhunter for Opera North at The Linbury Theatre of the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Suzuki Madama Butterfly for Festival Opera, New Zealand, Rosina The Barber of Seville for Opera Project, Prince Orlofsky Die Fledermaus for West Green House Opera, Olga Eugene Onegin for Grange Park Opera and Wellgunde Das Rheingold for Longborough Festival Opera.
She made her BBC Proms debut singing Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra conducted by Donald Runnicles, and her concert engagements have further included J. S. Bach Christmas Oratorio, , Messiah and Mozart Requiem with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble, Beethoven Symphony No. 9, de Falla The Three Cornered Hat and Mozart Requiem with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The Dream of Gerontius with the RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra, The Dream of Gerontius and Mendelssohn’s arrangement of Israel in Egypt with The Philharmonia Orchestra, Messiah at The Usher Hall, Solomon with the Oxford Bach Choir, Haydn Nelson Mass, Beethoven Mass in C and St John Passion for St Alban’s Choral Society Mahler Symphony No. 2 at The Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, Mendelssohn Elijah at Birmingham Town Hall, Mozart Mass in C Minor for Nottingham Festival Chorus, Mozart Requiem with Halifax Choral Society and the London Mozart Players, Ravel Schéhérazade for The Sinfonia of Leeds and Verdi Requiem with the City of Glasgow Chorus and at St David’s Cathedral Festival.
She made her debut at the St Magnus International Festival in 2018 and has also appeared at the Fishguard, North Wales, Presteigne and St Endellion Festivals in a wide range of repertoire including Duruflé Requiem, Elgar Sea Pictures and the première of Oliver Tarney’s St Mark Passion. Her contemporary credentials further include the world première of Edward Gregson’s Five Songs of Innocence and Experience, Kerstin in the world premiere of Joseph Phibbs’ Juliana at The Cheltenham Festival, Judith Weir’s The Consolations of Scholarship with the Berkeley Ensemble and The Sleeping-Mat Ballad, filmed for Welsh National Opera.
Her recordings include Messiah with the BBC Singers and the Norwegian Wind Ensemble conducted by David Hill and Hugh Wood’s Beginnings, both now available on Resonus Classics, the latter selected as a Sunday Times CD of the Week.
During lockdown, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was delighted to collaborate with pianist Anna Tilbrook in a recital presenting music by Madeleine Dring, Sir Benjamin Britten, Jonathan Dove and Sir Edward Elgar presented virtually under the auspices of JAM on the Marsh. She returned to JAM in Summer 2021 to sing Jonathan Dove’s The Fair Theatricals of Day and other recent engagements include Countess Nastri in Galuppi’s La Diavolessa for New Chamber Opera, English Touring Opera’s Focus on Amadigi and a recording as Kerstin in Joseph Phibbs’ Juliana for Resonus Classics.
Engagements in 2021 / 2022 include Lucretia The Rape of Lucretia for New Palace Opera, Dardano Amadigi for English Touring Opera, Dorabella Così fan tutte for Saffron Opera Group, the St Matthew Passion with Cheltenham Bach Choir, the St Matthew Passion and Macmillan Stabat Mater at St Endellion Festival, Mendelssohn Die erste Walpurgisnacht and Fanny Hensel Hiob Cantata with the Crouch End Festival Chorus, Mozart Mass in C Minor for Opus 48 and Pergolesi Stabat Mater at the Cotswold Festival of Music.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
Dardano: Amadigi / English Touring Opera 2021
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as the spurned Dardano…sang and acted with dignity and conviction.”
“Afonwy-Jones, dark voiced and implacable does fine things with the anguished ‘Pena tiranna,’ one of Handel’s greatest arias.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones is a bluff, appealing Dardano, relishing the opera’s knockout aria ‘Pena tiranna.’”
“Dardano, is a breeches role, sung by mezzo Rebecca Afonwy-Jones with some amazing low notes which have a lovely timbre.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones sang a lush account of ‘Pena tiranna;” her fruity mezzo is the kind of voice that would have been preferred for the alto lead at the beginning of the English Händel renaissance…”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones brings terrific energy to the role of Dardano and, aided by a sombre but beautiful bassoon obligato, movingly communicates his embittered acceptance that Oriana will not be his.”
Countess Nastri: La diavolessa / New Chamber Opera 2021
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones is a splendidly haughty Countess as she suffers Falco’s ‘doss house’ or inn, and then Poppone’s slurs, skilfully projecting this attitude in the well sustained melismas of her Act 1 aria and the Handelian bravado of her rage aria in the succeeding act.”
Seen and Heard International
Presteigne Premieres / Resonus Classics CD 2021
“Two Hugh Wood pieces feature: Beginnings, his late reworking of three early songs, exquisitely handled by the mezzo Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, and Divertimento.”
The Sunday Times
Carmen / Scottish Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’ Carmen was both dark and manipulative, with enough seductive fruitiness in her voice to sustain complete plausibility.”
Anna Kennedy: Maria Stuarda / Welsh National Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones made a touching and pleasing Anna.”
Louhi: Swanhunter / Opera North
“…Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, an imperious Louhi.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones is a formidable and dark-toned Louhi…”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was a fine Louhi.”
Seen and Heard International
Elgar: The Dream of Gerontius / RTÉ National Symphony Orchestra
“There was a gentleness and mellowness to Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’ Angel from her entry in Part Two of the oratorio. Hers is a pleasing, sweet voice that sounded at its best when the orchestra was at a low volume. The dialogue with the Soul of Gerontius was sometimes gently consoling and later on, as her voice opened up, morally eloquent. There was a spine-tingling moment as Afonwy-Jones explained about the purifying flame of “Everlasting Love.”
Handel: Messiah / Resonus Classics CD
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones warms to her task with a touchingly open-hearted simplicity in ‘He shall feed his flock’ and a finely honed reading of ‘He was despised.”
Lola: Cavalleria Rusticana / Welsh National Opera
“…Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, an appealing Lola.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was an appealing Lola, as coldly “innocent” as the role requires.”
Seen and Heard International
“…for all-round excellence one must turn to Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’ butter-wouldn’t-melt Lola…”
Kerstin: Juliana / Nova Music Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones imbued Kerstin with a stoic dignity as well as a growing sense of helplessness that was ultimately very touching.”
Suzuki: Madama Butterfly / Welsh National Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’ affectingly loyal Suzuki.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones…rose to the occasion as both anger and the instinct to protect Cio-Cio-San expressed themselves in the voice.”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was a superb Suzuki, her rich voice strong in all registers, the phrasing well-judged.”
Prince Orlofsky: Die Fledermaus / West Green House Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones was pretty much ideal as Orlofsky, firm and spicy of tone…”
Olga: Eugene Onegin / Grange Park Opera
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones dealt with Olga’s tricky tessitura with great assurance, and skillfully managed to make dramatic sense of her ballroom conversion to über-coquette.”
Flora Bervoix: La traviata / Welsh National Opera
“Thanks to the spirited Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as Flora, the party was full of fizz…”
“Flora’s indigo-blue frock gleams as richly as Rebecca Afonwy-Jones’ mezzo-soprano and as brightly as her smile.”
“…well sung and impeccably acted by Rebecca Afonwy-Jones…”
“Rebecca Afonwy-Jones lit up the stage with hoydenish glamour as Mademoiselle Bervoix…”
Wellgunde: Das Rheingold / Longborough Festival Opera
“Opening proceedings with a splash, Mari Wyn Williams, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones and Katie Stevenson as the Rhinemaidens supplied the kind of vocal substance that will prove invaluable in any well-blended future ensemble of Valkyries.”
There were three alluring sounding Rhinemaidens (Mari Wyn Williams as Woglinde, Rebecca Afonwy-Jones as Wellgunde and Katie Stevenson as Flosshilde)…”
Seen and Heard International
Weir: The Consolations of Scholarship / Presteigne Festival
“For the remarkably accomplished Berkeley Ensemble and mezzo-soprano Rebecca Afonwy-Jones it was a tour de force, brilliantly executed by the nine instrumentalists under George Vass’ undemonstratively precise direction and sung / spoken / declaimed (it contains a lot of Sprechstimme) by Afonwy-Jones with remarkable clarity and vocal richness.”
“…it commanded the second half, thanks to the authoritative, gloriously sonorous voice of young mezzo Rebecca Afonwy-Jones and the Berkeley’s responsive ensemble. If anything, the instrumental writing is more potent than the vocal line but when Afonwy-Jones was given words to sing rather than speak she sliced laser-like through the scoring and her voice soared.”
Recital / Presteigne Festival
“…Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, who along with Rachel Roberts (viola) and Timothy End (piano) gave outstanding performances of works by Nielsen, Falla (Siete canciones populares espagñolas), Brahms (his Opus 91) and Edward Gregson’s superbly written Five Songs of Innocence and Experience – receiving the première of its revised version. Afonwy-Jones combined lustrous tone, generous phrasing and a natural range of communication that demands attention and also further study of Gregson’s music.”
Handel Messiah (arr. For Wind Ensemble by Stian Aareskjold)
Susanna Hurrell, Samuel Boden, James Platt
BBC Singers, The Norwegian Wind Ensemble / David Hill
Resonus Classics RES 10219
Hugh Wood Beginnings
Presteigne Festival Orchestra / George Vass
Resonus Classics CD RES 10279