Wales’ Opera Superstars – The Men

6 August 2020

In the second of our features on Wales’ top singers, we turn to the men and pick out some of our favourites:

Sir Bryn Terfel

Sir Bryn Terfel, CBE is a Welsh bass-baritone . Born in Pant Glas, Caernarfonshire, he had a talent for music from a very young age. A family friend taught him how to sing, starting with traditional Welsh songs. After winning numerous competitions for his singing, he moved to London and entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He graduated in 1989, winning both the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial Award and the Gold Medal. The same year he won the Lieder Prize in the Cardiff BBC Singer of the World Competition. In 1990 Terfel made his operatic début as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte at Welsh National Opera, and later in the same Season he sang the title role in The Marriage of Figaro, a role with which he made his debut with the English National Opera in 1991. Bryn had been due to return to WNO in the Summer of 2020 in Bluebeard’s Castle, which sadly had to be cancelled due to the global pandemic.

Sir Geraint Evans

Bass-baritone Sir Geraint Llewellyn Evans was noted for operatic roles including Figaro in The Marriage of Figaro, Papageno in The Magic Flute, and the title role in Wozzeck. He was especially acclaimed for his performances in the title role of Verdi's Falstaff. Born in Cilfynydd, he and his family were Welsh speaking. On leaving school aged 14, he worked as a window dresser for the High Class Ladies' Wear store in Pontypridd. In his spare time, he took singing lessons in Cardiff from Idloes Owen, who went on to found Welsh National Opera, as well as singing with the local Methodist choir and the local amateur dramatic society. During a career that lasted from his first appearance at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden in January 1948, as the nightwatchman in Die Meistersinger, to his farewell at the same house in June 1984, Geraint played more than seventy roles.

Robert Tear

Robert Tear, CBE was a Welsh tenor and conductor. He first became known singing in the operas of Benjamin Britten in the mid-1960s. From the 1970s until his retirement in 1999 his main operatic base was the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. Robert was born in Barry and attended Barry Boys' Grammar School. He sang in a local church choir and at the age of seven he took part in the nascent Welsh National Opera's first production, Cavalleria Rusticana in Cardiff in April 1946. His obituary in The Guardian described him as ‘without question the most versatile and probably the most intelligent tenor of his generation’.

As with the women, there are too many to feature all of Wales’ top singers. Do you have a favourite?