Jan 30, 2020
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Bryn Terfel, Injured Opera Star, Leaves the Met’s New ‘Dutchman’

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In Wagner’s “Der Fliegende Holländer,” a bewitched sea captain is allowed to leave his ship only once every seven years, to try to break the spell that has condemned him to roam the oceans for eternity.

Nearly eight years have passed since the great Welsh bass-baritone Bryn Terfel last made landfall at the Metropolitan Opera. He was scheduled to return on March 2 in the title role of the company’s first new production of “Der Fliegende Holländer” (“The Flying Dutchman”) in over three decades.

But whatever curse has kept Mr. Terfel, one of the biggest stars in opera, from the stage of the Met has apparently not yet lifted: The company announced on Wednesday evening that Mr. Terfel, who fractured his ankle in a recent fall in Spain, had withdrawn from the entire run.

Lee Abrahamian, a spokeswoman for the Met, said the company was still looking for a replacement.

Mr. Terfel, 54, fractured his ankle when he fell earlier this week while in Bilbao, where he was appearing in, yes, “Der Fliegende Holländer.” He returned home to Wales, where he is expected to have surgery.

The Met confirmed Mr. Terfel’s withdrawal after he canceled two upcoming recitals in the United States. First the Lyric Opera of Chicago announced that he had withdrawn from a concert planned for Feb. 2, which was to have been his first appearance there in nearly 15 years. Lyric Opera said that he had “fractured the three prominences of his ankle, causing the ankle to partly dislocate and requiring a surgery scheduled for later this week.” Then Carnegie Hall announced that his Feb. 9 date was off.

The Met now has a hole at the center of one of its most important productions of the year. It is a high-profile assignment: The new production is being directed by François Girard, whose striking 2013 staging of Wagner’s “Parsifal” was widely praised. The cast of the opera, conducted by Valery Gergiev, includes the acclaimed soprano Anja Kampe, making her Met debut as Senta.

This is not the first time Mr. Terfel’s long-delayed return to the Met has been postponed: In 2017, he withdrew from a new production of Puccini’s “Tosca,” citing vocal fatigue. He has not performed at the Met since May 9, 2012, when he sang the role of the Wanderer in Wagner’s “Siegfried,” in Robert Lepage’s much-debated, high-tech staging.

He has occasionally been seen in the United States since then — he made a memorable appearance in the title role of “Sweeney Todd” with the New York Philharmonic in 2014, opposite Emma Thompson — but he has confined most of his appearances in staged operas to European houses. He has also gone through a number of changes in his personal life, including getting married last year, to the harpist Hannah Stone.

In a promotional video, Mr. Terfel spoke about his excitement at returning to the Met: “I can tell you, hand on heart, when I walk through that stage door for a first day of a new production, I am as excited as a little kid in a candy shop, and yet I am as nervous as I was singing Figaro in ‘Le Nozze di Figaro’ for the first time at the Metropolitan Opera.”

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