Welsh baritone Terfel: Working up to a great Wotan

Thu Jun 28, 2012 8:00am EDT
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By Michael Roddy

(Reuters) - Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel got a big kick out of hobnobbing on stage last year at New York's Beacon Theater with glitterati of the pop world for Sting's 60th birthday.

"I was between (Lady) Gaga and Billy Joel, rubbing shoulders with Stevie Wonder," Terfel said, his eyes still radiating the thrill more than half a year later.

Little did those rock and pop stars know that at the wave of a spear, Terfel could have put them into eternal sleep on a craggy mountaintop, surrounded by a ring of fire, as he does to his headstrong daughter Brunnhilde in Richard Wagner's epic "Ring" cycle.

Terfel, 46 and the son of a sheep farmer from north Wales, is perhaps the most sought after singer in the world to incarnate one of the most demanding roles in opera, that of Wagner's wandering chief of the Gods Wotan.

His scheming and philandering bring about the downfall of the gods, and their palace Valhalla, in the 16-hour opera cycle's fiery conclusion.

He'll be doing it again, in October, at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, on the eve of the 2013 bicentenary celebration of Wagner's birth.

Terfel, who first sang the role at Covent Garden in 2007 but had to pull out of part of it due to a family emergency, and who has since sung Wotan for cheering audiences at New York's Metropolitan Opera, says this time London is going to get a performance worthy of the gods.

"I cannot wait to go on stage to do this 'Ring' in Covent Garden because I felt more comfortable in New York," he told Reuters in an interview.   Continued...

Musician Bryn Terfel perform during the benefit "Songs From the Silverscreen" to raise funds for The Rainforest Trust at Caregie Hall in New York, April 3, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri