The Demon Barber will be heading from Broadway to the land of his fathers - and he can't wait.
Opera superstar Bryn Terfel will head an all-Welsh cast in Stephen Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd at this summer’s Llangollen International Musical Eisteddfod.
It’s a return to familiar territory for the acclaimed bass-baritone who will take the lead in the special English language production, a curtain-raiser to the week-long festival which has attracted some of music’s biggest names in its 66-year history.
The evening is being sponsored by the Wrexham-based care organisation, Pendine Park, that's won a raft of awards for the way in which they use the arts to enrich the lives of residents.
Terfel, who is also playing Sweeney opposite Oscar winning actress Emma Thompson in March with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra at the Big Apple's iconic Lincoln Center, will be at Llangollen on Monday, July 7.
It will be the first time Terfel has performed on the International Eisteddfod stage since he opened the 2006 festival and that was his first appearance at Llangollen in a decade.
He is delighted to return to his native North Wales and said: “I’m absolutely thrilled I’m able to appear at the 2014 International Eisteddfod.
“I’m a proud Welshman and the Eisteddfod is unique, the atmosphere, the colour, the audience, even the flowers, it really is a very, very special event.
“The International Eisteddfod committee and team of volunteers who work so incredibly hard really do put together something very special, year after year and they are to be applauded.”
The annual music and dance festival, which attracts more than 4,000 singers, musicians and dancers from around the globe, will take place between Tuesday, July 8 and Sunday, July 13.
It’s no stranger to big names - Luciano Pavarotti made his international debut at Llangollen in 1955 aged 19 as part of the Chorus Rossini, from Modena, alongside his father Fernando.
Pavarotti returned as a star in 1995 and the festival’s blue riband event, the Choir of the World competition, is for the Pavarotti Trophy, while others to have appeared include Yehudi Menuhin, Jose Carreras, Willard White, Kiri Te Kanawa and Katherine Jenkins.
This will be the first time Terfel has performed on the International Eisteddfod stage since he opened the 2006 festival and that was his first appearance at Llangollen in a decade.
He said: “At the start of my career I performed many Mozart roles, in particular Figaro and Don Giovanni, but I relish the heavier roles that come with the likes of Wagner.
“However, throughout my career, I have deliberately embraced not just the operatic roles but popular music too which is something I particularly enjoy.”
After performing in concerts in Vienna, Brussels and Paris in January and February, Terfel will then head over to New York for Sweeney Todd, a role he will repeat at Llangollen.
The part of the brooding, murderous barber particularly excites Terfel and it’s one he has performed to critical acclaim since 2002 including 2007 performances at The Royal Festival Hall’s re-opening following a £111m makeover.
He said: “I’m really looking forward to returning to sing the role of the Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
“I had the honour of meeting Sondheim when I sang Sweeney for the first time for a production at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 2002 and was privileged to be a soloist for the BBC Proms Concert honouring Sondheim’s 80th birthday in 2010.
“I haven’t sung the role since 2007 so I’m grateful to have the opportunity to reprise the role at the Lincoln Center in New York, along with the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, in March.
“This will hold me in good stead for when I return to Llangollen. And to be part of an all Welsh cast what a coup! What other nation would be able to do this!
“I’m sure Sondheim himself would be very interested to hear it is an all Welsh cast too as he has a great affinity with Wales. He even told me once that he’d like to write a piece based on the Mabinogion. So who knows, we may see a performance of that one day at the Llangollen Festival.”
And the Llangollen International Music Festival really does remain an event close to Terfel’s heart.
Terfel, who remains fiercely loyal of his Welsh roots, said: “I was born, the son of a farmer, in Plant Glas, Caernarfonshire, North Wales. My first language is Welsh and Wales is, and will be forever, in my DNA.
“Wherever my career takes me and no matter on what stage, or in what concert hall or Opera House I perform, my heart will always remain in Wales.
“Being offered the opportunity to return to the International Eisteddfod is an honour and I look forward to seeing everyone at Llangollen which, without a doubt, for me, will be a highlight of 2014.”
Llangollen International Music Eisteddfod musical director, Eilir Owen Griffiths, is thrilled Bryn Terfel will appear at the 2014 festival.
He said: “Bryn Terfel is Wales’ brightest shining musical star and the Eisteddfod is always a richer event when he is able to honour us with his presence.
“It has been difficult finding space in his very busy concert diary and I’m just grateful we have been able to arrange, what will be the opening event of the 2014 festival.”
This year’s Eisteddfod will also feature concerts by Dutch jazz sensation Caro Emerald and veteran British rockers Status Quo as well as a world premiere of a new work, Adiemus Colores, by top composer Karl Jenkins.
He will conduct his Latin American themed work with American tenor Noah Stewart, Venezuelan trumpeter Pacho Flores and Latvian accordion player Ksenija Sidorova to the accompaniment of the Llangollen International Eisteddfod Orchestra.
The Friday night concert, Spirit of Unity, will feature the Cape Town Opera, Africa’s premiere opera company, famed for their ‘vibrant vocalism and high-octane stage performances’.
Appearing with them will be Wales’ representative in Cardiff Singer of the World, Gary Griffiths, the Wales Millennium Centre Only Kidz Aloud Chorus under the baton of celebrity conductor Tim Rhys Evans and British Sinfonietta, one of the UK's leading independent professional orchestras.
The Choir of the World competition for the Pavarotti Trophy on the Saturday night is the blue riband event of the week-long festival which will close with a Sunday night concert by Status Quo.
To book tickets and for more details on the 2014 festival go to the website at www.international-eisteddfod.co.uk.