Double Bryn Terfel reviews

Financial Times ★★★★★

There are great opera singers — and then there is the bass-baritone Bryn Terfel

“As Aleko, a jealous husband who kills his wife after discovering her infidelity, Terfel dominates the stage by stillness and by movements of hands and head. As Schicchi, a brilliant crook who is commissioned to forge a will and goes much further than anyone bargains for, the singer is restless, bending his body vividly from the waist but also energetically deploying legs and feet.”

“Both productions are modern-dress, directed by Stephen Medcalf, sharing a set by designer Jamie Vartan that is ingeniously adapted to suggest both the anarchic, nonconformist world of Aleko (with punks replacing the Roma people of Rachmaninov’s opera) and the sophisticated Florentine world of Schicchi.”

“Ailish Tynan (soprano), Luis Gomes (tenor), Robert Winslade Anderson (bass) and Sara Fulgoni (mezzo-soprano), who also have roles in both operas, are worthy stage companions to Terfel: singing gorgeously, acting vividly. With Gianluca Marciano conducting the BBC Concert Orchestra idiomatically, and every word registering in the intimate Grange Park opera house, this double production cannot be recommended too urgently or ardently.”


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The Telegraph ★★★★★

The Welsh wonder triumphs in Gianni Schicchi

“Grange Park’s season opens with a double bill crafted around the talents of Bryn Terfel – all-round sophisticated exuberance.”

“Terfel, who arrived as Aleko on a bicycle, is now a bumptious wide-boy motorcyclist in vulgar red, ready to exploit the Donati relatives’ greed, especially when his heart is melted by Pasquale Orchard as his daughter Lauretta in ‘O mio babbino caro’.”

“Aleko, written when Rachmaninov was 19 and premiered in 1893, is well worth reviving when done with this colour and depth.”

“Terfel, angry enough to commit the double murder but at once repenting bitterly, sings of his anguish with powerful intensity in a cavatina which Chaliapin adopted. Ailish Tynan and Luis Gomes make an affectionate couple, and his aria is delivered with passion.”

“Conductor Gianluca Marciano moulds the Rachmaninov beautifully, the balance of the BBC Concert Orchestra with its solo horn and rippling harp well shaped.”


Plays To See ★★★★★

Go for one of our best British opera stars, Sir Bryn, in terrific form

“The set should be a gypsy encampment, but is a grungy graffiti-scrawled squat. The static action provides the oppressive atmosphere from which Zemfira is desperate to escape. The chorus, particularly the mezzos are excellent.”

“Irish soprano, Ailish Tynan is a feisty Zemfira, adding warmth as she dies to an otherwise unsympathetic character. Portuguese tenor, Luis Gomes was a Jette Parker artist, sang in Cardiff in 2019 and is an unexpected star of the show. His radiant voice shines as Zemfira’s disc-jockey paramour.”

“Terfel completely dominates – his comic timing is brilliant, his Italian excellent, and his singing is wonderful. Schicchi is funnier than usual, due to Bryn’s exceptional magnetism. Large-as-life, in red leathers, you cannot take your eyes off him.”


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The Times ★★★★

A vivid double dose of Bryn Terfel

“Even if he plays a black-hearted, vengeful murderer in Rachmaninov’s rarity Aleko, it’s a pleasure to hear Terfel add another Russian antihero to his repertoire (he was a distinguished Boris Godunov at Covent Garden). He brings a vivid, disturbed edge to the ruminations of a man who will kill his free-spirited wife, Zemfira, and her younger lover without compunction.”

“The opera was Rachmaninov’s graduation piece and the score is a fascinating stockpot of doom-laden motifs culminating in a kind of religious threnody that points decades ahead to the composer’s late masterpieces. Conducting, Gianluca Marciano extracted maximum juice from it, with heady playing from the BBC Concert Orchestra and vibrant, credible choreography by Lynne Hockney.”


Bachtrack ★★★★

Aleko on the Arno: Sir Bryn Terfel leads fine new double bill

“We none of us believed Gianni Schicchi deserved his place in Dante’s Inferno (where his deception gains only a much-prized mule), so winning was Terfel’s performance. Magnetic too was his portrayal of Pushkin’s tragic outsider, quick to anger and a step away from extreme responses.”

“Both tragedy, then comedy, are given full rein across the evening in these very effective stagings.”


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