’. A n ight at the
WALES, IT’S THE new Seattle, isn’t it? A hotbed of musical frenzy, with assorted eyes and ears lapping up Manic Street Preachers, Catatonia, Super Furry Animals and. chm, Bryn Terfel. Of course, it shouldn’t be any surprise that a Welsh baritone is one of the world’s most sought-after operatic talents, as the country has always had a reputation for producing voices that bring a welcome to the hillside.
Last year. Terfel’s solo recital at Edinburgh’s Usher Hall proved he is a world-class singer storming up the premier league. His powerful voice resonated into every corner of that large auditorium, then, a few seconds later. was reduced to a tender whisper that had every member of the audience convinced Terfel was singing on an intimate scale for them alone.
Although Terfel always refers to his recital evenings as ‘liederabends’. they’re never stifled by classical protocol, so last year he lightened up his encore with some Welsh folk songs and a taster from his album of songs from Broadway musicals. Something Wonderful. This year those Rodger and l-lammerstein favourites make their way into his full set -— alongside Schumann. liinzi. Brahms and Strauss — and Terfel won’t stand for any snobbery about their inclusion.
‘People like to hear a singer performing what they’ve recorded,’ insists the 31-year-old. ‘In some ways. it’s like the pop world — when Oasis bring out an album. they go on tour with that disc. So whatever music I have recorded. I tend to use in my recitals.’
This doesn’t mean Terfel hasn’t encountered some resistance from the purists for whom ‘crossover appeal’ are dirty words, but he’d like to
break down the barri—
'Why do we have to wear these tails, this 0“ even further. We always wanted to cre-
pengum surt? What's the matter With someone we a new System for knowmg hlS songs, knowmg his words, and cllothgs hin Ieider-
- - - - - l a )ems.’ (2 SU ests. Singing In jeans and trainers? Bryn Terfel sWhy do we hgﬁc to wear these tails. this penguin suit‘.’ 11 makes you feel like you’re in a straitjacket. Perhaps we should relax a bit more. What’s the matter with someone knowing his songs. knowing his words. and singing in jeans and trainers? Perhaps that‘s taking it a bit too far. but I’d like to see somebody who has the guts It) (It) it.’
Likewise. Terfel won‘t be restricted to any narrow repertoire - ‘Only last year I did a Christmas show with Tom Jones and did “Green. Green Grass Of Home" as a duet with him.‘ he says. So. as well as the recital. [Edinburgh has won itself something of a coup by inviting the singer to perform Wotan in a concert setting of Act Ill of Wagner’s Die Walki‘ire, a role 'l'erfel always imagined he’d first take on somewhere in Germany. Here is history in the making for, in decades to come. Terfel’s name is sure to go down as one of the Wagner greats. And it will certainly lift him above cheap jokes about certain lookalikes.
‘lt’s either Meatloaf or Gerard Depardieu.’ he smiles and remembers a case in point. ‘I was walking along the street in New York when l was performing at the Metropolitan Opera. and this person suddenly ran tip to me. He was really salivating. going “Meatloaf! Meatloaf! Can I have your autograph?” So I couldn't let him down. I signed it — “Meatloaf Terfel”.’
Yes. well. Maybe that is taking crossover a bit too far.
Bryn Terfel: does a mean Meatloaf
Bryn Terfel (International Festival) Usher Hall. Edinburgh, 0131 473 2000, 20 Aug, 8pm, £5-£19. Die Walka're (International Festival) Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 0131 473 2000. 28 Aug. 7.30pm. £5—£29.
26 IHELIST 1') .T