Artist Profile: Bryn Terfel, Wales’ Bass-Baritone

By David Salazar

Born in Pant Glas on Nov. 9, 1965, Bryn Terfel has turned into the most prominent Welsh singer of all time.

His interest in music started from his early years, with the bass-baritone learning traditional Welsh songs. He moved to London in 1984 to study at the Guildhall School of Music and graduated five years later as the winner of the Gold Medal and Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Award.

His opera debut came in 1990 at the Welsh National Opera in “Così Fan Tutte;” a year later he appeared at the English National Opera in “Le Nozze Di Figaro.” And in 1992 he was at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, this time as Massetto in “Don Giovanni.” In each of these noted debuts, he appeared in a Mozart role from each of Da Ponte-Mozart’s trilogy. He also made his international debut at La Monnaie in another Mozart Opera, “Die Zauberflöte.”

His Met debut came in 1994 and in 1993 he signed an exclusive recording contract with Deutsche Grammophon.

He was knighted in 2017 and has been made Commander of the Order of the British Empire and earned the Queen’s Medal for Music. He also won a Grammy in 2013 and has won four Classic Brit Awards throughout his career.

In 2000, he founded the Faenol Festival.

Major Roles

Throughout the early part of his career, Terfel was a fearless Mozartian, his interpretations in such roles as “Don Giovanni” among the finest of his time. His big voice and strong acting abilities made him a solid fit for the larger-than-life titular character of Mozart’s opus.

As his career progressed, Terfel delved into Wagner’s great operas, taking on Wotan in an entire Ring Cycle at the Metropolitan Opera.

He was also a major interpreter of Verdi’s “Falstaff” for much of his career and also appeared frequently as Scarpia in “Tosca.”

Watch and Listen

Terfel has also specialized in song throughout his career.

Here is a glimpse of what he has done in Wagner’s “Die Walküre.”

And here is some “Don Giovanni.”


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