Terfel é o maior e melhor cantor lírico do mundo actual. Uma voz de mil cores, com uma pujança e homogeneidade de registos sem paralelo. Teatralmente é um sonho. Discograficamente... nem tanto...
Desde o início do milénio, os registos discográficos de Terfel praticamente deixaram de frequentar a minha casa: entre o musical de gosto duvidoso e a melodia inglesa desinteressantíssima... Enfim!
O mais recente disco de Terfel - a que aqui fiz referência - não foge à regra do musical, mas promete momentos de brilho (Boito e Mozart).
A seu tempo, pronunciar-me-ei! Por ora, mantenho-me expectante.
«Although the quack doctor Dulcamara from Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore is a mere conman, it's a generally scary bunch that includes Boito's Mefistofele and Gounod's Mephistopheles, Scarpia from Tosca, Weber's Kaspar (from Der Freischütz), Iago, drug dealer Sportin' Life from Porgy and Bess, and Stephen Sondheim's goresplattered Sweeney Todd. For the climactic trio from Mozart's Don Giovanni, featuring the Don, Leporello and the Commendatore, a multitracked Terfel sings all three roles.
"Thankfully, it's bestowed upon the bass-baritone voice to sing most of opera's baddies," he observes. "In Boito's Mefistofele he gets the title role of the opera, and he's the darkest of everything."
Another favourite is Scarpia's aria Tre sbirri, una carrozza from Act 1 of Tosca, in which the black-hearted chief of police relishes the prospect of sending the fugitive Angelotti to his execution while getting his lustful paws on Floria Tosca, the opera singer ("one to the gallows, the other in my arms").
"It's set in the church, to the music of the Te Deum, and it's Scarpia's last entrance in the first act," says Terfel, who sang the role at Covent Garden in July. "It's this amazingly powerful depiction of the church and religion and this sadistic character. Religion is a kind of drug for him, to spur on his passion for this hot-blooded diva."
Terfel explains that his motivation for recording the Bad Boys set was partly a desire to make another album of operatic arias, as he did earlier in his career with James Levine and the orchestra of the Metropolitan Opera (Opera Arias, 1996), but he also seized the opportunity to stretch the boundaries and venture into musical theatre. He sang the role of demon barber Sweeney Todd in Chicago in 2002 and on the South Bank in 2007, and it's one of the roles he most prizes in any genre.
"Sweeney Todd is definitely one of my top three on the disc," he admits, pausing to brandish an imaginary razor and deliver a brief excerpt - "you sir, you sir, welcome to the chair, come on!" "It was one of the highlights and privileges of my career to sing a role by a contemporary composer, because I don't sing much contemporary music, and to actually have Sondheim, the composer, coming in and telling you his anecdotes was fantastic. It was very funny: on one occasion, he crumpled up his notes and just threw them in the bin. I waited five minutes after he'd left the room in case he came back, then I dived into the bin for those original handwritten Stephen Sondheim notes on all the things I'd been doing wrong."
Terfel is rare among opera singers in being able to reach across genres without sounding patronising or just plain daft. It has something to do with the emotional directness he brings to his music, without any attempts at intellectual secondguessing.
His Sweeney Todd is intense and blood-curdling — he has been toying with the grand guignol idea of performing it in a small, claustrophobic theatre and handing out plastic macs to the audience to keep the sprays of blood off their clothes.
He demonstrates his stylejumping range again on Javert's aria Stars, from Les Miserables. "I think it's a stunning piece of music. It's so good it makes you want to be in the piece. There's a new production of Les Miserables opening in Cardiff in December, with John Owen-Jones as Jean Valjean, and I'll be fascinated to see what they've done with it." »