Saturday, September 15, 2007


Journalism: Bryn Terfel cancelled his appearances as Wotan at the Royal Opera. Instead of just saying he was not prepared, he made up an excuse about his son's finger. Then his wife made certain comments to a London newspaper to the effect that a serious operatic career on Bryn's level was just too much work, the currently building sentiment among the star class. Why not just give pop concerts like Pavarotti? Bryn deserves some easy money, too.

Pavarotti's secondary career as a pop star was completely uninteresting to me. I managed to make my way through the first 3 tenors concert (when Pavarotti was 55) where he did a very respectable "Nessun Dorma", but that's it. We had the cream of Pavarotti in San Francisco--we didn't know how lucky we were.

So Bryn is going to abandon his serious career for pop. I'm not sure Anna Netrebko hasn't been trending in that direction. One of her concerts included an absolutely fabulous rendition of the quartet from Rigoletto, so one can't complain too much. The same concert included a pathetic "Casta diva." I suggest additional coaching.

He's supposed to be doing it to make his wife happy. If you're against this, you can respond by not going. And not buying the DVDs. For my money Bryn's not good enough for this. He has charisma to spare, but his tone is rather monotonous. He's not a once in a generation phenomenon like Pavarotti, but he might be able to pull it off. He could appear in concerts with Katherine Jenkins. "Katherine and Bryn." I agree with the person who said René Pape is the best in Bryn's Fach.

Bryn is 42. He is abandoning the prime of his career. Even if you think this is something he should be doing, the manner in which it was done is disgusting. It suggests cowardice. I suggest he present his first Wotan in some out of the way place like Seattle.

Elīna Garanča appears to have decided on a traditional operatic career. To quote the scarecrow, "People have been known to go both ways."


mostly opera... said...

I agree very much with what´s written here. I´ve never understood the appeal of Terfel (no disrespect meant). René Pape on the other hand - on an entirely other level than Terfel -no real competition there (imo)..

Anonymous said...

I never usually deign to make comments on blogs, as they invariably seem to be run by sad, talentless, envious people who get their kicks from vilifying and criticising those who have the talent they lack, but I was so incensed by the rubbish that you had written about Bryn Terfel that I was compelled to post this comment.
By your own admission you were "not destined to set the operatic world aflame", which is presumably your own euphemism for the fact that you did not have any talent in this field whatsoever; you also state that your "experience in music is not deep", so how this qualifies you to judge an international opera singer of the calibre of Bryn Terfel is beyond me. Have you ever actually seen him in a live performance of an opera, recital or concert?
I have seen him perform on many occasions and can testify that he is one of the most brilliant singers as well as one of the most accomplished actors and mesmeric performers I have ever witnessed on the operatic stage.
I admire his professional integrity in deciding to withdraw from The Ring rather than potentially give a performance that he felt may be less than the high standard he sets and expects of himself. I also think that he has his priorites right; he is a father and a husband first who happens to be an opera singer, rather than the other way round. No doubt had Bryn continued with The Ring cycle and reports subsequently came to light that his injured son at the time of his operation was in deep distress over his father being absent at such a traumatic time for him, you and the other vicious harpies would be the first to criticise Bryn and would doubtless accuse him of putting operatic success and money before his child.
Until you walk in someone else's shoes and live their life you are in no position to judge them.

Dr.B said...

Dear anonymous, this is the sort of comment that is always anonymous. If you had bothered to look, you would have seen that I saw him in Falstaff last winter at the Vienna State Opera and praised him rather profusely.
What is being criticized here is his talent as a pop singer and his desire to become one. As expressed by his wife, admittedly. If he had stated his own case as eloquently as you have stated it for him, I would not have made this fuss in the first place.

Daisy-May of Dilmore said...

Never having left a comment before on a "Blog", (they are things I usually avoid like the plague because of the utter self opinionated dross they contain, hence there was no incentive for me to look at any other of your postings, and hence I was unaware that you had seen Bryn in the grand sum of one opera) I was therefore unfamiliar with the supposed ettiquette and protocol of such things, which was why it was inadvertently anonymous.

Dr.B said...

One of my favorite films is Bryn's appearance with Cecilia in Nozze di Figaro. He was a gorgeous Figaro.
I liked his Rakes Progress when I saw it in San Francisco. I have seen lots of Bryn over the years. He's terrific. Rene Pape can be better. It's simply not that big a deal.

So you're ok with the idea that he abandons serious opera for the semi classical concert circuit that seems to be developing. They do make a lot of money that way.

Anonymous said...

I have seen Bryn Terfel many times, both in person and on many TV programs. He is one of the most charismatic and beautiful singers that I have ever heard. Renee Pape has a beautiful voice, but for me he has no charisma...very dull. I also think Bryn is one of the very few opera and classical singers who can sing music theater and light songs very beautifully. I saw Bryn in recital a few years ago...had never heard of him before I saw him in recital. I have heard a lot of great singers, but no one has ever impressed me like Bryn Terfel in both beauty of voice and being expressive.

Dr.B said...

As long as there is no name calling, I am enjoying the small storm I have stirred up around Bryn Terfel. I have only one thing to throw into the mix: how are his sales numbers? Do his albums appear on the pop charts? It would seem to me this was crucial.

Phyllis said...

Hi, Dr. B.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Bryn and talking to him several times. He is one of the loveliest persons I have ever met. I have seen him perform in opera during the last three years in the U.S., Great Britain, and Europe. I also have a lot of his CDs and DVDs and his voice is one of the least monotonous voices, to me, of present day singers. He has a warmth and expression in his singing that many singers do not have. Of course, that is my opinion, but it is shared by many many people. Bryn has many fans all over the world. His concerts and operas have always been very popular. sell fast for any of his performances.

One thing Bryn is definitely not ....a coward! It took a lot of courage for him to cancel his engagement at the Royal Opera House. He, unlike many singers, values his family as the most important thing in his life. He has been working hard at his art in singing for many years....since he graduated from Music College in the late 80's. Has performed so many concerts and operas since then....more than some singers perform in their whole careers....has sacrificed time with his family for his career. He was not present at the births of his first two children. He did take time off to be with his wife at the birth of his third child and has had a couple of back surgeries for which he had to cancel some engagements.

Bryn will certainly continue his classical singing. He has said that he loves all music, but opera and classical music is his "bread and butter." In an interview recently he said that he will do more concerts and recitals and not do as much opera. There are still a lot of classical songs that he wants to add to his repertoire. Since last fall he has done recitals in Australia, Asia, Great Britain, Iceland, Norway, Germany, and Austria along with performing in opera at the Royal Opera House and in Vienna. Also, in May, he performed Elijah with the Mormon Choir in Salt Lake City. I went to see him perform in SLC. He sang very beautifully and poignantly. He is one of the most sought after classical/opera singers in the world. He will be singing at the Met in October/November in "The Marriage of Figaro".. I plan to see him in Figaro on November 17 and then see him perform Elijah at Carnegie Hall on November 19. Some people have questioned whether he would cancel at the Met, but I have been assured that he will not cancel.

Bryn has been recording for DeutscheGrammophon for years....has done many CDs and DVDs. His DG website is: He has won quite a few awards...the latest being a Grammy last year for his CD, "Simple Gifts." His CDs, in particular, have sold very very well. His CDs have been top sellers of opera and classical singers.

Also he does a lot of charity work in his country of a scholarship each year to a student of the arts and also supports a school for handicapped children. In fact, as a teenager he helped his mum teach music to handicapped children. The scholarship competition is quite good which includes young singers, instrumentalists, and dancers. Bryn is a very outgoing and "giving" person. Also each August he has several nights of programs which is the Faenol Festival held near Bangor in North Wales. This year was the eighth year for the Festival and he over the years has had some quite famous singers and performers participate. Each year he schedules an Opera Gala, a Welsh music night, and a Pop Music night. This year there was also a Music Theater Night which included some great performers from the West End. Faenol has become so popular that people come from all over the world to attend. It is held in an outdoor theater on the Faenol Estate.

Bryn will continue his classical singing, but, as he has said recently, will not be doing as much opera.

Dr. B., I see that you are a graduate of Indiana University which is probably one of the best music colleges in the U.S. I had the pleasure of singing the soprano solos of Elijah under the direction of Dr. Charles Webb, former Dean of your school, here in Dallas many years ago. He grew up here in Dallas.

Dr.B said...

My first professional appearance was the alto in Elijah. And of course, I own Bryn's recording of it.

I was intending to speak against a trend rather than a specific individual. I'd like all of them to do more opera. I still think he could have done a more graceful exit from the Ring. But I'm not exactly graceful all of the time either.

Phyllis said...

I hadn't thought of Bryn's cancelling as "ungraceful" but we all have different perspectives. I know there are a lot of pros and cons about his cancellation. There has been a lot of support for Bryn all over the world.

Dr.B said...

This has been talked about now. I love Bryn, and I apologize if I did not leave that impression. I would only make a fuss over him if he was worth fussing over.

I predict that in the long run I will not be the only one to criticize this decision.

Phyllis said...

Hi, Dr. B.,

For sure you aren't the only one! :-)