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Tuesday, May 20, 2014


(Bryn Terfel)

(Although attending the concert as a member of the audience, artSMart reviewer Keith Millar was so impressed that he was motivated to publish his response. Michael Green, artSMart’s official reviewer of the KZN Philharmonic’s symphony seasons, initially covered the concert at

Durban City Hall was graced a week or so ago by the appearance of the world’s leading bass-baritone, the extraordinary Bryn Terfel, in concert.

Terfel is a commanding presence on stage. He is a large man, both physically and in personality, and he has considerable Welsh charm and wit.

As for that astonishing voice – it is huge, resonant, and powerful. It has power to burn, enough power to fill the cavernous City Hall with its booming timbre. But it is not all about belting it out. There is subtle light and shade, and drama and emotion in the voice. It is beautifully balanced instrument.

Terfel sang an eclectic selection of songs. We heard everything from Roger and Hammerstein’s Some Enchanted Evening, from South Pacific, to The Lord’s Prayer, and even a bit of Flanders and Swan as an encore.

Along the way, we were treated to a group of operatic arias entitled the Bad Boys of Opera, a wonderful selection of Celtic songs such as Danny Boy, Loch Lomond and Molly Malone, as well as a wealth of other songs from John Ireland, Franz Schubert and Fredrick Keel.

Terfel delivered an inspired and brilliantly-nuanced performance of all the songs. One could only listen in absolute wonder to what is without doubt the leading bass-baritone voice in the world, and possibly one of the best ever.

In between the songs Terfel kept the audience well entertained with witty anecdotes and biographical recollections. His approach is casual, friendly and full of charm. From the start, he had the audience in the palm of his hand. On two occasions he had them merrily singing along with him, and he made the evening of a few young ladies in the audience by coming down from the stage to serenade them.

Terfel was accompanied in performance by the very talented Cape Town pianist Nina Schumann. She looked resplendent in her lilac evening dress, and made a contribution which was perfectly supportive and complimentary to the singing. She played an important part in the virtuosity of the concert.

We who live at the southern tip of Africa seem to be fed with a plethora of aging rock stars when it comes to visiting international artists – and then they seldom come to Durban. Taking that into account, Chris van Heyningen Enterprises should take a bow for bringing a performer of this standard to the country.

Seeing and hearing Bryn Terfel in Concert is probably a once in a lifetime experience and something that will live in the memory forever. – Keith Millar