Opera star's search to find co-stars

Published date: 12 March 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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YOUNG singers from the region were among more than 80 hopefuls to try out for a prestigious role alongside opera superstar Bryn Terfel.

The great bass-baritone from Caernarfon will head an all-star Welsh cast in a performance of Stephen Sondheim’s Broadway smash hit Sweeney Todd, The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.

The show, first performed in 1979, will see Terfel play the title role of the murderous barber with a cast that also includes Carmarthen tenor Wynne Evans (Gio Compario of the Go Compare television ads).

Soprano Rebecca Roberts, 19, from Holt, near Wrexham who took part in auditions at Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion, has already sung in some impressive settings.

In 2011 she was chosen to sing alongside Brymbo Male Voice Choir in a benefit concert for the choir at Liverpool Cathedral where she performed two numbers to great acclaim.

The previous year Rebecca sang for Prime Minister David Cameron and other VIPs at a launch event at the Airbus factory in Broughton, Flintshire.

She has just started her own business, singing at weddings and also gives singing lessons to children.

Rebecca said: “I jumped at the chance to try out for the role of Johanna at Llangollen because to sing beside Bryn Terfel would be like a dream come true for me.

“My audition went very well and I think I managed to stay pretty calm. It’s now just a case of keeping my fingers crossed about actually landing the part, which would be just fantastic.”

Soprano Ffion Davies, 26, originally from Mynydd Isa also took part in the auditions.

She has been head of music at Derby Grammar School for the past four years and said: “Although I enjoy teaching I still sing for enjoyment semi-professionally and have done a number of solo performances locally and in at venues in England.

“I think my audition for the part of Johanna went fine but I know that choosing a shortlist is going to be very difficult for the producers as there was such a lot of singing talent on display.

“But everyone was very friendly and supportive and I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I will get the once in a lifetime chance to sing with the great Bryn Terfel.”

Archie Pytches, nine, from Waverton, Chester, a pupil at Waverton Primary School, began singing when he was just six.

He said: “I love singing and would really like to get the part of Tobias, the young boy in Sweeney Todd and have the chance to sing with Bryn Terfel.

“I was in some of my plays at school and then last year I was part of the chorus in the Chester Mystery Plays, which are quite famous.

He added: “This is the first time I’ve done anything like this and I didn’t really know what to expect but it was fine and I wasn’t nervous.”

Now a shortlist will be drawn up from the young singers performing at the auditions in Cardiff and at Llangollen before Bryn chooses the three young unknowns who will take the stage alongside him.

The roles to be filled are star-crossed young lovers Anthony and Johanna and street urchin Tobias Ragg who works for Todd’s rival, Pirelli (Wynne Evans) and then for piemaker Mrs Lovett, Todd’s murderous accomplice.

Eisteddfod musical director Eilir Owen Griffiths said: “The standard has been very, very high and it’s been very exciting.

“One of our roles at the eisteddfod is to provide an opportunity for young talent to flourish and there can be no bigger opportunity than to sing alongside a legend like Bryn Terfel. Just the chance to actually audition for a role like this is an experience in itself and one which will stand them in good stead in the future.”

Sweeney Todd will be the curtain raiser to the six-day festival at Llangollen which kicks off on Tuesday, July 8.

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