Bryn Terfel interview (2005) - part two

Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel talks on the eve of the release of Simple Gifts.

You have performed Wotan in Wagner's Ring Cycle Rheingold and Walkure. You have Scarpia in Puccini's Tosca scheduled for the Royal Opera in 2006, plus your first Wagner's Dutchman with Welsh National Opera. Do you have more performance ambitions?

The last installment of Wotan will come. At this stage in my career I have achieved the repertoire I would have wanted. You know, I think I'm going to use the repertoire I have and start repeating it. My music room is somewhere I lived in this year as I spent so much time learning. Something like Wagner takes a huge chunk of time.

Having sung all over the world, are there productions that have particularly appealed and others you have not enjoyed?

Every time you do a new production that is the one that stays with you when you do it again. The Royal Opera Ring was very controversial; some loved it and some hated it. The flame in the hand was a coup de théâtre, but that is what opera is. Everyone has their own tastes. I will see a traditional production that I have loved, then read reports that it was detested.

Having achieved so much professionally, not to mention having turned 40 with three children, would you like to do more singing closer to home?

Very much so. In 2008 I am taking a sabbatical out of opera which means I can concentrate more of repertoire: doing concerts of songs, lieder evenings and perhaps a little more television which is something I want to do. It's a step back for consideration, to gain a clear thought of what I want to achieve in the next five years after that.

You've spoken about protecting your voice and only performing when 100 per cent. Do criticisms of you canceling shows annoy you?

The human voice is susceptible to adverse conditions, so it is a no-win situation. There are also situations, such as when my wife was expecting our third son and she had a threatening condition, when I didn't want to explain why at the time.

You have been a great ambassador for Wales, the language and also the Wales Millennium Centre. Do you believe it has delivered the expectation?

It certainly has where Welsh National Opera is concerned, with a 98 per cent sale of tickets. That was a stunning start, and they have made every concession for people to be introduced to opera including being able to sell their tickets for £5.

I haven't seen live opera there yet. I have seen the Dutchman that is coming and it is a little more modern than what David Pountney usually does, including using video. Using video? What is that about?

Interview: Mike Smith


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