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Interview in the Danish press

 
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TER1310
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 2:51 pm    Post subject: Interview in the Danish press Reply with quote

A quick translation of an interview with Bryn in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
English isn’t my first language, and I don’t use it on daily basis, so I apologize for my grammatical mistakes.

Jens Cornelius met Bryn in Birmingham, performing Falstaff.


The Warm Voice from Wales

One of the world’s greatest opera singers, Bryn Terfel, will be visiting Denmark for the first time this spring. Then he will wind down.

He is humming, walking down the corridor. One cannot separated the voice from the body, two meters tall, wide as a door. Among the deep voices, the most famous opera singer in the world: here is the Welshman, Bryn Terfel. He is wearing a pink T-shirt, his worn favourite jeans, and trainers. He is on his way to make up, to turn into Shakespeare’s figure Falstaff, the title role in Verdi’s opera. The most celebrated role for Bryn Terfel, a tailor-made role for his bass-baritone and acting talent; naïve, comical, proud, frank and touching, as human as there is.
Bryn Terfel’s warm voice has sold millions of CDs and reaches deep down in the heart. It has the same presence and natural balance in the dressing room, as on the albums. Terfel speaks slowly and gently with a lilting Welsh accent. Teachers of song will call it “hygienic”, completely free of wear, damage and failing techniques. It seems like everything comes natural, and Bryn Terfel is a natural man. Like a nice, decent neighbour, who happens to be an opera star. He is son of a sheep farmer, and with his big hands and torso, he would fit right into the agricultural business.

He is on tour with the Welsh National Opera in Great Britain. The company means a lot to him, - of patriotic reasons, and because he made his debut there in 1990. He loves his colleagues, and the tour gives him a chance to sing his favourite role.
“I want to be named in the Guinness Book of Records as the one who has performed Falstaff the most. It is a very difficult role, technical speaking, but I have been singing it for 15 years, and I will definitely go on singing it. I have no problem discovering new inspiration in the score. Every time I look forward to performing it on stage.”

The end of Mozart
A bass-baritone voice is more flexible than a bass, and more forceful than a baritone is. Within Mozart, a bass-baritone finds splendid roles like Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Papageno in The Magic Flute, and Leporello in Don Giovanni, but Terfel has ended that chapter. “I have stopped singing the Mozart roles. Figaro was my calling card for many years, and it is a perfect role for a young singer. I have sung it for the last time, and it is a great feeling, actually, it is like a big relief. I will not miss it.”
Wagner’s major roles are now in line, but Terfel is treading carefully.
“I am not the typical Wagner “heldenbartone”, who is singing forcefully for a long time. It is not to brag I sing pianissimo – I am just following Wagner’s dynamics. This way, I am more like an old-fashioned Wagner-singer. I love listening to singers from the past, e. g Hans Hotter, and George London. I have George London on my iPod, and his widow gave me his scores for The Ring. They are packed with notes and details – spear in left hand, look desperate. I can see there are parts which caused him problems, and these are complicated for me as well.”

The impossible roles
Except for the Mozart roles, there are not many left when you, as Terfel, sing neither contemporary music nor baroque music. In addition to Falstaff, he sings Wagner’s Flying Dutchman, Wolfram in Tannhäuser and Wotan in The Ring. The big role as Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg is next.
“The development of my voice is the deciding factor for which roles I will sing. Bass-roles, like Sarastro in The Magic Flute, I am not able to sing. I am not a Verdi baritone either, and I will never be able to sing Macbeth, Simon Boccanegra or Germont in La Traviata, only Falstaff, which is deeper and quite different from the others.
Are there any roles you would like to sing, but you will not make a go of it?
“Good question! The Barber of Seville, - I would love to, but I know I am not able to do it. The first aria is too difficult. Bo Boje Skovhus has to deal with it”, says Bryn Terfel laughing. “Wozzeck might be possible. I am not a fan of contemporary music, but it seems interesting.”

Time to be a father
Wagner’s music is a tough business, and many feared the worst possible scenario, when Bryn Terfel at the last moment pulled out of Covent Garden’s production of The Ring, which he would have sung for the first time in 2007. His youngest son was suffering a very complicated fractured finger. Terfel, who himself has had back surgery three times; chose his family over The Ring. Daddy was needed at home. “I am happy concerning my decision. I am very sure when it comes to my family”, he says calmly.
English press tore Bryn Terfel to pieces and scornfully nicknamed him Bryn the Cancel. The newspapers wrote that he, as the master, was obligated to make art his priority. One critic compared his cancellation to a general deserting during war, - a remark that made Terfel furious. Halfway through life, - Bryn Terfel is 42 years old,- he has realized he has been away during major parts of his three sons’ lives, and his wife, whom he has known since school, has been alone home in Wales, while he himself has been globetrotting on first class. No more!
“2008 is a sabbatical for me. Finishing the Falstaff tour, there will not be any opera performances for the rest of the year. In the future, there will be fewer performances. I will concentrate on Wagner. Unfortunately, it is a social burdensome repertoire. You are emotionally drained, and not in the mood for drinks with friends after a performance. I am worried about the role of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. It lasts five hours and demands great stamina.”

A people’s singer
Bryn Terfel grew up in the country. His talent was discovered at a very early age, and as a boy, he was already an admired soloist. On the new collector’s edition CD A Song in my Heart, there are two recording of him as a 12 year old boy-soprano.
“I was a good soprano, and my parents wanted a few recordings. They brought me to this small recording studio. I recorded six songs in Welsh. I was having problems with the high notes. The next day my voice broke!”
When Bryn Terfel was 19 years old, and went to the distinguished Guildhall School of Music, he had never been to London before. His common background has been a part of him all his life. He sings ballads and hymns with no frills, and he is one of the few opera singers who always sound great singing musicals.

Is this repertoire closer to your heart then opera?
“Oh yeah. I grew up with Welsh male-voice choirs singing tunes people knew. I get more response from the audience singing Some Enchanted Evening from South Pacific then a lied by Pfitzner. Singing opera or musical is no different to me. The singing technique is the same and I use the same technique delivering the text. I was supposed to sing in Les Miserable, the role of Javert, the police officer, but it didn’t happen. It is a great show.”

A part of Falstaff
A rubber scalp covers the big man’s curls. The big foam rubber belly is the wardrobe and he will wear it under Falstaff’s clothes. The boots cover most of his legs, and give him a fat man’s troubled manner of walking. Falstaff and Terfel have grown together. The future performances and roles are booked for five years.

What are you doing when you are fifty? Or sixty?
“Perhaps golf? No, I don’t think so …, but I will retire in time. When I am no longer able to maintain the standard. When it happens, there will be no doubts.” The big, gentle face is looking calm and relaxed, even at the thought of one day it will end. Difficult to please? Laziness? No, it is a kind of great and becoming humility towards the audience, the music and the family back home in Wales.

http://jp.dk/kultur/klassisk/article1346300.ece
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Last edited by TER1310 on Sun Jun 08, 2008 9:15 pm; edited 1 time in total
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TER1280
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 4:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Bjorg,

Thanks so much for that great article. So interesting! Bryn's performance n Aarhus will be wonderful!!

Phyllis Smile
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TER1291
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PostPosted: Tue May 20, 2008 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you for translating this article, Bjorg. It's confirmation of Bryn's humility and greatness to know the knowledge of his own voice and abilities and is what that makes him such a world wide star. I'm sure we all hope he will go on for many years to come and record many more of the roles he sings so we will have them for all eternity.
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What a great joy to read this article, Bjorg. Laughing Thank you for translating and posting it for us all to enjoy! Laughing
I saw him as the Dutchman in Birmingham in 2006, and Falstaff in Llandudno last March and both were wonderful, amazing performances. Laughing I would have loved to have seen his last performances as Don G. and Figaro - but it was not to be, so I have to be content with the DVDs which I adore. Laughing
Having met and spoken to his lovely and gracious wife in Liverpool on Saturday, I can only support further - if that is possible - his decision to invoke the wrath of the ROH Covent Garden last autumn and be at home with her and the family when Deio had the horrific accident last summer.
May he go on for many years to bring us all such pleasure and rapture as we had on Saturday night in Liverpool. Laughing
Regards
Gillian Laughing Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Gillian,

I feel very fortunate that I was one who saw Bryn perform his last Don Giovanni (in Vienna) and last Figaro (at the Met). In fact, several of us who were in Vienna to see Don Giovanni saw it twice. LOL!

I think it was sad that Bryn got so much criticism when he cancelled the Ring at ROH when his family needed him. It made me an even more devoted fan of Bryn that he put his family first. The ROH found out that they needed Bryn much more than Bryn needed them! LOL!

Phyllis Smile
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi, Phyllis,

It was a privilege to be able to see them which I would have dearly loved to have had! However I feel privileged to have been able to see so many performances in the last few years since joining Terfeliaid. Laughing

I do so agree that it was sad he had so much criticism for his actions last year, and was sure that the ROH would find out in time that they needed Bryn much more than he needed them!! It made me a more devoted follower, too Laughing

Gillian Laughing
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PostPosted: Wed May 21, 2008 3:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for finding, translating and posting this lovely interview, Bjorg. Interviews like this really give a deeper understanding of the man behind the voice. And, talking of the voice, I often find when I'm reading something like this that I can hear the words in Bryn's voice in my head! Suppose that says something about how hooked I am! (Or perhaps I just need a good therapist ...... "It's like this doctor, I keep hearing voices!!")

Irene
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