Some celebrity concerts are often more about celebrity than concert. Fortunately it wasn’t the case here. Bryn Terfel may be the star bass-baritone of his generation but he is a team player, generous to his fellow artists, refreshingly sparing with the chat and – most important of all – doesn’t patronise the audience.
And he’s a very fine singer, even when shouting top notes, as he did in Leporello’s Catalogue aria (Don Giovanni) and the Toreador’s Song from Carmen.
The Diamond aria from Les Contes d’Hoffman and Falstaff’s tirade to Bardolph and Pistol, however, were more subtly moulded to Terfel’s ebullient delivery, and he threw off Don Giovanni’s tongue-twisting Champagne aria with terrific precision.
The evening’s high spots were undoubtedly ‘Ella giammai m’amo’ from Verdi’s Don Carlo (with a gorgeous cello solo) and ‘O du mein holder Abendstern’ (Tannhäuser), sung with poker face integrity and demonstrating just how sensitive Terfel can be when not striving for effect.
His two supporting performers added glitz and glamour with solos that stretched technique more than interpretation.
The most impressive of these were soprano Gwawr Edwards’ beautifully focused runs in the vivacious ‘Je veux vivre’ (Roméo et Juliette), while mezzo Caryl Hughes exercised her coloratura to rattling effect in Rossini’s ‘Non piu mesta.’
Underpinning everything was the excellent Manchester Concert Orchestra under Gareth Jones’ seasoned operatic baton, who also played three overtures that included a splendidly snappy account of Verdi’s Nabucco.
Even the encores were nicely chosen – Rossini’s Cat Duet for the girls of course, plus a lovely arrangement of ‘Ar Hyd y Nos’ for everyone, quietly unforced and deliciously Welsh.
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