Welsh star, Royal Opera back on singing terms

By Mike Collett-White

June 18, 2010 Updated Feb 24, 2009 at 12:11 PM EST

LONDON, Feb 24 (Reuters) - Renowned Welsh bass-baritone Bryn
Terfel is back on singing terms with the Royal Opera House.

The 43-year-old performed the title role in Richard Wagner's
"The Flying Dutchman" late on Monday, 18 months after abruptly
withdrawing from the "Ring" cycle and causing consternation at
Covent Garden, one of the world's leading opera houses.

He cited a "stressful family situation" -- his son had a
badly broken finger which required surgery. The Royal Opera
House said it was shocked and surprised, and the opera world
argued over whether he had done the right thing.

Terfel has gone on record as saying he has no regrets, and
the world famous singer is back after a year's sabbatical during
which he sang hardly any full stage opera.

Asked backstage after Monday's performance whether the
manner of his parting in September 2007 had added to the
pressure of his first-night nerves, he told Reuters:

"No, not at all. I've rehearsed this piece now for nearly
five weeks so I'm ready to go. We work hard. You know, that's
all it is, we're just singers that love to perform."

The performance, the first of six running until March 10,
was Terfel's comeback from a break from opera during which he
sang concerts, saw his family and indulged a passion for sport.

OPERA, POPULAR MUSIC

Unlike many top opera stars, Terfel is as comfortable
singing in a stadium and alongside pop stars on non-classical
recordings as he is singing Verdi, Puccini or Wagner.

"It's wonderful to be back," he said. "I enjoyed the year
off that I had doing other things which is also important, to
feather one's cap. You are recharging your batteries in a way."

Asked why he had returned now, he replied: "I knew that this
(The Flying Dutchman) was on the horizon. It's one of the most
intense Wagner pieces that he ever wrote, even though as a young
28-year-old he was experimenting."

Covent Garden's The Flying Dutchman is a new production
directed by Tim Albery and conducted by Marc Albrecht.

Michael Levine's set consists of a sloping stage resembling
a large, rusting hull complete with grimy portholes. The arrival
of the ship helmed by the ghostly Flying Dutchman of seafaring
legend is heralded by a shadow creeping across the stage.

Terfel plays the Dutchman, doomed to sail the seas forever
until he finds a woman to free him from his fate, and Senta is
sung by German soprano Anja Kampe in her Covent Garden debut.

Most reviews have yet to appear, but opera website
www.musicalcriticism.com gave the two-hour, twenty-minute,
single-act show three stars out of five.

Its critic Hugo Shirley said Terfel lacked the nobility
needed to balance the grim view of life at sea, but the
Independent was glowing, writing that the singer's performance
was one of "thrilling intensity" more than matched by Kampe.

Terfel said he planned to make another attempt on what he
has called the "monumental mountain" of music -- singing Wotan
in Wagner's epic four-opera "Ring" cycle.

Dates have yet to be confirmed, but the cycle is expected to
form part of Covent Garden's 2012/13 season, coinciding with the
bicentenary of the composer's birth in 1813.

(To read more about our entertainment news, visit our blog
"Fan Fare" online at http://blogs.reuters.com/fanfare)




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