Best known for being instrumental in putting the famed Ten Tenors together, it’s no surprise that Gold Coaster Roger Davy is passionate about classical music. He first moved here from Melbourne in the 80s to sing with Opera Queensland, which was a launching pad to Opera Australia. He’s probably best known, though as the original Singing Waiter.
He had a break from singing for a while which led him to study hospitality. “All I ever did was sing,” he said. “I’d never done anything else.”
Roger ended up as a boardroom waiter. People started recognising him as one of the Ten Tenors and he was asked to sing at functions. And so the Singing Waiter was born.
“I was doing that at corporate events and went to the Singapore Grand Prix,” Roger said. “I performed there for four years. Now I do Pavarotti impersonations.”
There’s no doubt it’s been a diverse career for Roger. He’s taken his shows to Four Seasons in the Maldives, all across Australia and all over Asia.
“The whole idea with what I do is to bring classical music to people in a fun, entertaining way,” he said. “And now I get to be a soloist. I spent so much time singing with a chorus for many years and deciding I’d never be recognised as a solo artist, but now I get to do that on a regular basis.”
Through Vavachi, which is his stage show company, Roger says he’s taken out of the city moreso than booked within.
“There’s a lot more money in Sydney and Melbourne than here,” he explained. “I don’t know if that’s a culture thing , but most of that work takes me out of the state.
“Most of my work comes from word of mouth. People see me, keep my card on fridge and if they have a special birthday or anniversary they call and ring me up.”
Locally Roger has performed at a bucketload of five star hotels and functions. Sanctuary Cove, Marriott, Versace, Marine Mirage. He’s also performed at outdoor concerts as well as Opera in the Park – with those outdoor events offering an accessible option for people of all ages.
Roger said people often struggle with opera.
“People’s reaction to the word opera is always like they snub their nose at it and think it’s for the elite,” he said “when in actual fact, the raw energy with classical music affects people. The hair stands up on the back of people’s necks and it’s an emotional journey – it affects them.”
For Roger, it was a family love of opera and of musicals that was the catalyst for his career.
“We’ve got the original broadcast recordings from the major musicals from Broadway,” he reminisced. “We had the opportunity to hear the music in the house – my grandfather was also a singer and sang classically. Our grandparents living next door to us. We had Sunday soirees. Grandma would play pianola and granddad would sing. Mum was a great Frank Sinatra fan.”
“I have theatre in my blood. So transitioning to music theatre and transitioning to opera was a given really.”
“Vavachi now is a platform to provide opportunities for talented young singers who come out of the Con,” Roger said. “A nurturing platform for up and coming young talent – singers who’ve come through Vavachi stable have gone on international careers.”
He rattles off a list: Kiandra Howard, Mirusia (who sings with Andre Rieu), Iain Henderson (who just won the Dame Joan Sutherland award and is about to take off for London and America).
“I’m proud of the opportunities that Vavachi has given people,” he said.
Vavachi’s next show is Broadway to Pavarroti. Roger is front and centre, along with Simone Nicole and young tenor Iain Henderson. The event takes place at Robina Community Centre on 29 October from 11.00am and tickets are $30.00.