Bryn Terfel

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Bryn Terfel CBE
BrynTerfelSept10.jpg
Terfel in September 2010
Born Bryn Terfel Jones
(1965-11-09) 9 November 1965 (age 48)
Pant Glas, Caernarfonshire, Wales, UK
Occupation Opera singer (bass-baritone)
Years active 1990 – present

Bryn Terfel Jones CBE (Welsh pronunciation: [ˈbrɨn ˈtɛrvɛl]; born 9 November 1965) is a Welsh bass-baritone opera and concert singer. Terfel was initially associated with the roles of Mozart, particularly Figaro and Don Giovanni, but has subsequently shifted his attention to heavier roles, especially those by Wagner.[1]

Biography[edit]

Bryn Terfel Jones was born in Pant Glas, Caernarfonshire, North Wales, the son of a farmer. His first language is Welsh. He knew of another Welsh baritone named Bryn Jones, so chose Bryn Terfel as his professional name. He had an interest in and talent for music from a very young age. A family friend taught him how to sing, starting with traditional Welsh songs. After winning numerous competitions for his singing, he moved to London in 1984 and entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where he studied under Rudolf Piernay. (He has recorded that he initially applied to the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama in Cardiff but when the reply was addressed to "Miss Terfel" he was so annoyed that a Welsh college did not know Bryn was a man's name that he switched to London.) He graduated in 1989, winning both the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Award and the Gold Medal. The same year he came second behind Dmitri Hvorostovsky in the Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Competition, but won the Lieder Prize.[2]

Career[edit]

In 1990 Terfel made his operatic début as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at the Welsh National Opera, and later in the same season he sang the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, a role with which he made his debut with the English National Opera in 1991. His international operatic career began that same year when he sang the Speaker in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte at the Théâtre de la Monnaie in Brussels and he made his United States début as Figaro at the Santa Fe Opera.

In 1992 Terfel made his Royal Opera House, Covent Garden début as Masetto in Don Giovanni, with Thomas Allen in the title role. That same year he made his Salzburg Easter Festival debut singing the role of the Spirit Messenger in Die Frau ohne Schatten. This was followed by an international breakthrough at the main Salzburg Festival when he sang Jochanaan in Strauss's Salome. He went on to make his début as Figaro at the Vienna State Opera and his debut at Covent Garden as Masetto in Don Giovanni. That year, he also signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon, and returned to the Welsh National Opera to sing Ford in Falstaff. In 1993, he recorded the role of Wilfred Shadbolt in The Yeomen of the Guard, by Gilbert and Sullivan and sang Figaro to acclaim at the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris.[3] Terfel has said that he would like to record "an album of Gilbert and Sullivan arias".[4][5]

In 1994 Terfel sang Figaro at Covent Garden, and made both his Metropolitan Opera and Teatro Nacional de São Carlos débuts in the same role. He also sang Mahler's Eighth Symphony at the Ravinia Festival under the baton of James Levine. However, back surgery in 1994 (and again in 2000) prevented him from performing in several scheduled events. In 1996, he expanded his repertoire to include Wagner, singing Wolfram in Tannhäuser at the Metropolitan Opera, and Stravinsky, singing Nick Shadow in The Rake's Progress at the Welsh National Opera. These performances won him the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for the singer of the year.

In 1997 Terfel made his La Scala début as Figaro. In 1998, he had a recital at Carnegie Hall which included works by Wolf, Fauré, Brahms, Schumann, Schubert, and others. In 1999, he performed in Paris the title role of Don Giovanni for the first time and sang his first Falstaff at the Lyric Opera of Chicago; the latter of which he reprised in the inaugural production at the newly refurbished Royal Opera House.

In 2003 Terfel hosted and performed on the stage with opera tenor José Carreras and soprano Hayley Westenra in front of the capacity crowd of 10,000 people from Faenol Festival in Wales.[6][7]

In 2007 Terfel performed at the opening gala concert for the re-dedication of the Salt Lake Tabernacle with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on 6–7 April. Later, he performed the title role in a concert version of Sweeney Todd that had four performances from 5–7 July at London's Royal Festival Hall. This idea came from Terfel and his fellow bass-baritone and friend, the Irishman Dermot Malone.[8]

Terfel has not shied away from popular music either. He has recorded CDs of songs by Lerner and Loewe and Rodgers and Hammerstein. In 2001 he commissioned and performed 'Atgof o'r Ser' ('The Memory of Stars') in the National Eisteddfod with the composer Robat Arwyn.

In September 2007 Terfel withdrew, to severe criticism, from Covent Garden's Ring Cycle when his six-year-old son required several operations on his finger. But he did successfully return to the Met in November 2007 to sing the role of Figaro.[9] He told reporters in New York City that he will now retire Figaro from his repertoire.

He did sing the role of Wotan in Covent Garden's revival of the Ring Cycle in September to November 2012.

Terfel intended to take 2008 as a sabbatical from opera performances, but broke this to take the title role in WNO's revival of Falstaff. He had sung in this production in 1993, when he played the role of Ford.[10]

In 2009 Terfel sang Scarpia and the Dutchman for the Royal Opera House.[11][12]

In 2010 Terfel made his debut as Hans Sachs in Wagner's Die Meistersinger in a production for Welsh National Opera, in Cardiff and on tour. On 17 July 2010, the cast of this production gave a "concert staging" at the Royal Albert Hall as part of the 2010 BBC Proms, which was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and on BBC Four television.[13] On 31 July, again at the Proms, he performed in a concert from the Royal Albert Hall celebrating the works of Stephen Sondheim, in his 80th birthday year.[14]

Terfel took on the role of Wotan for the premiere performances of Robert Lepage's new Met staging of Wagner's Ring 2010-12. He sang the role in all three of the four Ring operas that feature Wotan: Das Rheingold, Die Walküre and Siegfried.[15]

In September 2011 Terfel joined Andrea Bocelli in his concert at the great lawn of Central Park, New York, performing for over 70,000 people. In December 2011, he opened the season in La Scala as Leporello in Don Giovanni.

In September 2013 Terfel collaborated with Mormon Tabernacle Choir released the album Homeward Bound which reached No. 58 Official UK Charts.[16]

Personal life[edit]

He was married to his childhood sweetheart, Lesley, until December 2012 when they separated. The couple have three children.[17] Terfel was a leading petitioner in the creation of Bontnewydd railway station on the rebuilt Welsh Highland Railway, and in part sponsored its construction.[citation needed]

Honours and awards[edit]

Bryn Terfel continues to be a patron of the Welsh language and Welsh culture, facets of his life which are largely unknown outside his native Wales. Terfel has been awarded the honour, by the National Eisteddfod, of membership of the Gorsedd of Bards. The Gorsedd was created in 1792 as a celebration of Welsh heritage, and inductees are considered to have contributed to Welsh culture.

Terfel is also President of the Welsh homelessness charity Shelter Cymru and is Patron of Bobath Children's Therapy Centre Wales, a registered charity based in Cardiff which provides specialist Bobath therapy to children from all over Wales who have cerebral palsy.

Faenol Festival[edit]

Terfel started the Faenol Festival, at the Faenol Estate near Snowdonia, Wales, in 2000. Billed as "Bryn Terfel's Faenol Festival" (often referred to as "BrynFest" or known in Welsh as "Gŵyl y Faenol"), it turned into an annual music festival featuring internationally famous opera singers as well as popular Welsh artists. In the same year he released We'll Keep a Welcome - The Welsh Album, an anthology of favourite traditional songs. In 2009 and again in 2010, he was forced to cancel the festival because of low public bookings, after having been voted a £250,000 grant by the Welsh Assembly.[21]

Previously staged at the Faenol Estate, the event, a pop/classical/opera crossover, will be staged in London as part of the Southbank Centre's Festival of the World from 4–7 July 2012.[22][23]

Operatic repertoire[edit]

Terfel has performed the following roles on stage:[24]

Composer Opera Role In repertoire Recorded
Britten Peter Grimes Balstrode 1995 No
Donizetti L'elisir d'amore Dulcamara 2001 Yes (DVD)
Gounod Faust Mephistopheles 2004 Yes (DVD)
Mozart Così fan tutte Guglielmo 1991 No
Mozart Don Giovanni Masetto 1992 Yes
Mozart Don Giovanni Leporello 1991–present Yes
Mozart Don Giovanni Don Giovanni 1999–present Yes
Mozart Die Zauberflöte Speaker 1991 No
Mozart Le nozze di Figaro Figaro 1991–2007 Yes
Offenbach Les contes d'Hoffmann Four Villains 2000 Yes (DVD)
Puccini Gianni Schicchi Gianni Schicchi 2007 No
Puccini Tosca Scarpia Yes
Puccini Madama Butterfly Sharpless 1996 No
R. Strauss Die Frau ohne Schatten Der Geisterbote 1992 Yes
R. Strauss Salome Jochanaan 1993 Yes
Sondheim Sweeney Todd Sweeney Todd 2002–present No
Stravinsky The Rake's Progress Nick Shadow 1996–2000 Yes
Stravinsky Oedipus Rex Creon 1992 Yes
Verdi Falstaff Falstaff 1999–present Yes
Verdi Falstaff Ford 1993 No
Wagner Das Rheingold Donner 1993 No
Wagner Das Rheingold Wotan 2005–present Yes- DVD and Blu-ray.
Wagner Die Walküre Wotan 2005–present Yes- DVD and Blu-ray.
Wagner Siegfried The Wanderer 2011–present Yes- DVD and Blu-ray.
Wagner Tannhäuser Wolfram 1998 No
Wagner Der fliegende Holländer Holländer 2006–present No
Wagner Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg Hans Sachs 2010 Concert staging of Welsh National Opera production broadcast
by BBC Radio 3 and BBC Four television as part of BBC Proms

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Bryn Terfel". Decca Records. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "Bryn Terfel". classicfm.co.uk. Retrieved 12 February 2012. 
  3. ^ The Marriner/Philips Yeomen
  4. ^ Barnes & Noble.com Music - Classical Interview
  5. ^ [1][dead link]
  6. ^ "Westenra on bbc radio". 17 Sep 2003. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Hayley Westenra International – That was the best festival ever in North Wales". Archive.hayley-westenra-international.com. 26 August 2003. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  8. ^ Gans, Andrew (13 June 2007). "Terfel, Friedman, Evans and Quast to Star in London Sweeney Todd". Playbill.com. Retrieved 14 June 2007. 
  9. ^ [2][dead link]
  10. ^ Holden, Anthony (9 March 2008). "Don't mess with Bryn". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 27 April 2010. 
  11. ^ Opera Schedules from The Opera Critic
  12. ^ Opera Schedules from The Opera Critic
  13. ^ "Archive/Search—Event 2010-Prom 02 of 2010 season. Held at Royal Albert Hall, London on Saturday 17 July 2010 at 4:00PM.". 
  14. ^ "Saturday 31 July 2010". BBC Proms 2010 website. 2010. Retrieved 13 May 2010. 
  15. ^ "Wagner's Das Rheingold and Die Walküre". Metropolitan Opera website. 2010. Retrieved 27 November 2010. 
  16. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/artist/_/bryn%20terfel/
  17. ^ Bertodano, Helena de(15 August 2013). "Bryn Terfel interview: 'Being an opera singer is easy'". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 28 October 2013.
  18. ^ Krebs, Lord (2008). "The Principal's Report". The Jesus College Record (Jesus College, Oxford): 7. 
  19. ^ BBC News - Bryn Terfel awarded Bangor University honorary doctorate
  20. ^ "55th Annual GRAMMY Awards Nominees: Classical". Grammy.com. Retrieved 10 February 2013. 
  21. ^ Breaking news: Bryn Terfel in festival crash
  22. ^ "Bryn's Faenol Festival comes back... in London". bbc.co.uk. 24 January 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  23. ^ "Global music festival for Faenol estate in Gwynedd". BBC News. 26 January 2012. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  24. ^ Bryn Terfel Opera Repertoire. Harlequin Agency Limited. 18 June 2008. Retrieved 18 June 2008. 

External links[edit]