Baritone Bryn Terfel has been one of the world's most beloved singers since the 1990s. In addition to opera, he has performed and recorded art song, popular music, and songs in the Welsh language with great success.
Terfel was born Bryn Terfel Jones in Pant Glas, Wales, on November 9, 1965. His father was a farmer, and he grew up speaking Welsh. Terfel gained stage experience as a child participating in singing contests, and by the time he entered the Guildhall School of Music and Drama he was already a seasoned perfomer. Terfel began using his middle name to avoid confusion with Welsh singer Delme Bryn-Jones. Winning two major prizes at Guildhall, Terfel scored a breakthrough at the 1989 Cardiff Singer of the World Competition, which was widely broadcast and attracted the attention of star conductors such as Sir Georg Solti. Specializing in roles such as Figaro in Mozart's Le nozze di Figaro, Terfel won the Young Singer of the Year award from Britain's Gramophone magazine. Terfel signed with the Deutsche Grammophon label in 1994 and released the Schubert song recital An die Musik. Terfel has mostly remained with Deutsche Grammophon since then, but has appeared on smaller labels including Marquis for several Welsh-language releases; he has spoken out in support of Welsh language and culture. His crossover albums such as Homeward Bound, covering American hymnody and recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, have been best-sellers. In 2018 Terfel released Dreams and Songs, which combined musical theater selections, Welsh songs, and other popular material. On stage he has continued to perform opera, often taking on Wagnerian roles such as that of Hans Sachs in Die Meistersinger as his voice darkened in middle age. His operatic repertory includes about 30 works, with Wagner, Mozart, and Puccini the most frequently occurring composers among them. He has also been an enthusiastic performer of oratorio (Mendelssohn's Elijah is one of his specialties) and of classical art song. In 2003, Terfel was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire; he had already been serving as the honorary monarch of the Welsh island of Bardsey.