Bryn Terfel to open new Welsh National Opera house

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The Independent Culture

Bryn Terfel will return to sing with Welsh National Opera, the company that gave him his first big break, when it finally gets a home of its own after nearly 60 years.

The Welsh National Opera is to get a permanent base next year in the £104m new Wales Millennium Centre currently under construction in Cardiff Bay.

Terfel, the charismatic bass-baritone who made his debut with the Welsh National Opera in 1990, will mark his support for the project by appearing in Wagner's Der Fliegende Hollander ("The Flying Dutchman") in the spring of 2006, his first appearance with the company for a decade.

Welsh National Opera has performed for many years in the New Theatre in Cardiff, but that does not have the sophisticated facilities that will be available in its new purpose-built home.

The company announced yesterday that it will mount six new productions in its new home between spring 2005 and summer 2006 and then take them on tour to cities including Birmingham, Bristol, Liverpool and Oxford.

"For many years I have supported the campaign to build a major lyric theatre in Wales, a country with such a deep-rooted musical and artistic heritage, which has given me the spring board to an international career," Terfel said.

"I am thrilled that this visionary idea has now become reality. Welsh National Opera has been homeless too long and this new building will certainly show the company off at its very best."

Anthony Freud, the company's general director, said: "We have waited nearly 60 years for a home and we have withstood many false starts. But now we have the thrill of seeing that magnificent building bursting out of the ground and of announcing our plans for our opening seasons."

Welsh National Opera is one of Britain's finest opera companies. It has won numerous awards over the years, including the Royal Philharmonic Society award for outstanding achievement on opera for three successive years from 1999.

This year, it was nominated for the Theatrical Management Association's opera award for Handel's Jeptha.