A young singing star from Cardigan is hoping to sign alongside the legendary Bryn Terfel for the second time after being among over 80 hopefuls to try out for a prestigious role alongside the opera superstar at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
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.
The show, first performed in 1979, will see Bryn 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 Rhiannon Davies, 24, from Cardigan, took part in auditions held in Llangollen’s Royal International Pavilion, singing Greenfinch and the Linnet Bird, from the Sondheim show.
Now a shortlist will be drawn up from the young singers performing at the auditions, in Cardiff and at Llangollen so that Bryn Terfel can himself choose 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.
The Anthony and Johanna roles are for tenors and sopranos over 18 while Tobias will be played by a ten to 14-year-old.
At audition each singer performs a song from the show and after the Cardiff event Eisteddfod Musical Director Eilir Owen Griffiths was impressed by the quality of the entrants.
He said: “The standard has been very, very high and it’s been very exciting.
“Everyone is coming very well prepared and they are clearly taking it very seriously but then there is a lot at stake because performing a major role alongside an icon like Bryn Terfel could be the springboard for someone’s career.
“Each of them has had to sing a piece from Sweeney Todd, a song by the character they are trying out for and I’ve been very pleased with the quality of the singing and acting.
“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.”
Rhiannon, who attended Ysgol Uwchradd Aberteifi, has been singing since he was in her early teens and has performed in a number of amateur stage productions in Cardiganshire.
The trainee music teacher, who splits her time between Cardiff University and work placements, said: “I love singing and have been in a number of local amateur productions.
“I’m also a member of a group called Opera Teifi and with them I’ve done some Gilbert & Sullivan musicals such as HMS Pinafore and The Mikado.
“While I was at university I gave a 20-minute recital with which I was lucky enough to win the Sir Geraint Evans Award for best performance.
“The audition for Sweeney Todd at Llangollen was the first time’s I’ve done anything like this but I really enjoyed the experience.
“I actually have sung on the same stage as Bryn Terfel before but I was only very young and I was just one member of the children’s choir which accompanied him when he performed at the opening of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff in 2000.
“I think my audition for the part of Johanna went quite well. I was nervous on my way over to Llangollen from Ceredigion in the morning but by the time it was my turn to sing I think I was pretty calm.
“I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that I can get the role of Johanna because to sing alongside Bryn Terfel again but this time in one of the lead roles would be just brilliant.”