Opera superstar Bryn Terfel has withdrawn from the Royal Opera's sold out production of Wagner's Ring Cycle which is to be staged at the Royal Opera House this autumn. Terfel was expected to sing the role of Wotan/The Wanderer in the highly anticipated epic. Instead the role is to be taken by Sir John Tomlinson, who was originally due to share the role with Terfel while also playing Hagen.
In a statement released by his agent, Terfel said: "I am deeply sorry that I feel it necessary to cancel my performances at Covent Garden this autumn. I have had a particularly stressful family situation involving one of my children this summer which has affected the time I had put aside to prepare for this challenging role. Having begun rehearsals it is clear to me that I would not be able to perform at the standard I would wish to, and rather than progressing through rehearsal in the hope that I might make it, I feel it is better for the Royal Opera and the fantastic team working on this epic production that I withdraw at this stage."
Terfel's decision came as a shock to the Royal Opera, but in Tomlinson the company has a much-honoured replacement who is considered to be one of the world's greatest Wagnerian performers. He began his operatic career in 1970 with Glyndebourne, and has since sung with every major British opera company and across the globe. During his career he has won a Grammy, been awarded a CBE and a knighthood, and, earlier this year, was honoured with the Society's Special Award at the 2007 Laurence Olivier Awards.
The part of Hagen in Götterdämmerung will now be sung by Kurt Rydl on 1 October and 2 November. Casting of the role for 9 and 24 October is yet to be announced.