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Australia

Bryn Terfel astounds with a rare display of power

OPERA
Bryn Terfel in concert ★★½
Opera Australia, Hamer Hall, November 10

Bryn Terfel is every opera fan’s favourite something. Their favourite Figaro, Scarpia, Wotan, Hans Sachs, Falstaff, Sweeney Todd – everything that voice touches turns to molten gold.

The Welsh bass-baritone is one of the most beloved and in-demand opera singers in the world today. With an instrument of all-encompassing power, Terfel returned to Hamer Hall with a varied program proving his talent, charisma and sense of drama are as astounding as ever.

Bryn Terfel is one of the most beloved and in-demand opera singers around.

Bryn Terfel is one of the most beloved and in-demand opera singers around.

Terfel’s serious side was on show in an Act I of Wagner. His portrayal of Sachs was full of humility, touching and genuine, and clearer diction you will never hear. He relished in every crisp and crunchy German consonant.

Every music-lover should experience this voice live at least once in a lifetime.

His Wotan truly has everything. Enormous legato phrases that make you forget when Terfel ever took a breath, vocal colours that convey the character’s complex darkness, pride, yearning; and resonance that swallows up everything in its path.

Led by the gentle hand of conductor Gareth Jones, Orchestra Victoria came to life in Wotan’s Farewell, playing with sparkling brilliance and passion.

In the second act we were introduced to Terfel’s wife, former royal harpist Hannah Stone, who provided the appealing solos in works by Debussy and Welsh composer William Mathias.

Then it was time for some “misfits and malcontents”, as Terfel put it, in the form of the Whistle Aria from Boito’s Mefistofele and Mack the Knife from The Threepenny Opera. It was supremely enjoyable to see this side of Terfel: spirited and cheeky, he really does delight in playing the devil.

Every music-lover should experience this voice live at least once in a lifetime. Last seen here in 2015, Melburnians would appreciate it if Terfel kept to this pattern of not having more than five years between visits. He’s simply too good to miss.

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