Sep 18 2003

Thousands gather for Faenol Festival

By Elly Roberts Wrexham Mail

LAST SUNDAY night, more than 10,000 people descended on the Faenol Estate near Bangor to experience the Opera Gala Night at Bryn Terfel's fourth Faenol Festival.

Familiar faces amongst the crowd included former Plaid Cymru leader Dafydd Wigley and Wales manager Mark Hughes.

Three Spanish women made a pilgrimage from their homeland just to hear Jose Carreras make his North Wales debut, and with the stage flanked by the northern caps of the Snowdonia National Park, it made a fitting backdrop for the award-winning festival.

Spanish tenor Carreras topped the bill alongside local hero Bryn Terfel and 16-year-old New Zealander Hayley Westenra.

The magnificent Orchestra of the Welsh National Opera, conducted by Carreras's nephew David Gimenez, opened the proceedings with Bernstein's Overture from Candide, followed by Terfel's rendition of the Toreador Song from the classic opera Carmen.

Two years ago, Terfel was unable to sing due to a throat infection, but he made up for the disappointment with a wonderfully disciplined and rich performance, roared on by the enthusiastic crowd.

Carreras then followed with two relatively unknown pieces by Serenata Napolitana and Era de Maggio, and despite his health scare of some years ago, he proved he is still able to deliver a consummate performance.

But by contrast with Terfel, Carreras's range is limited and he lacks the stage presence of Pavarotti.

The introduction of teenage sensation Hayley Westenra turned out to be a refreshing point in the show, and her choice of Lloyd Webber's Pie Jesu brought the programme to life as she highlighted her natural ability to control higher and lower range notes with perfection.

She then sung a stunning Maori lullaby entitled Hine e Hine (Little One), and it was undoubtedly the musical high-point of the night.

With maturity and further training, Westenra is destined for hugely a successful career.

The second period was Terfel's showcase, with a rich and tender adaptation of Hopkins's Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn and songs from Ennio Morricone's soundtrack to the classic film Cinema Paradiso.

The official programme ended in typical Spanish flavour as Terfel and Carreras sung Granada which thrilled the crowd with every note and gesture.

Due to the massive response, there was an extended encore that included Some Enchanted Evening and Westenra's Amazing Grace, which capped a wonderful night for the debutant as she stole the show.

A spectacular firework display concluded the evening as the Welsh national anthem rang out into the valleys beyond.

Copyright: Trinity Newspapers - Thanks to Keith S for locating this item


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