Bryn and the gals a Leeuwin winner

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CONCERT

Bryn Terfel, Rachelle Durkin and Lisa McCune

4 stars

Leeuwin Estate Winery

Review: Ron Banks

Bryn Terfel was cruising on Saturday night. His voice rose effortlessly from that barrel chest and out through whiskery jaws to punch the cool night air, unsettling the kookaburras yet calming the patrons divided, as always, into the dinner-suited corporates and the real people who brought their own seats.

Classical purists might have wished for meatier operatic material to match Terfel's superb talents as a baritone, but, hey, this is Leeuwin, and the deeper stuff should be lightened as much as possible with Welsh folk tunes, sentimental ballads and lots of music theatre. It's horses for courses, of course - or opera lite.

Having said that, Terfel delivered his material with a confident cheeky charm - not particularly chatty between the numbers, but it was his vocal presence we had come for, not his conversational skills, boyo.

His opening number, by classical composer Boito, set the playful tone for the evening with a number about sheep stealing and the Devil. Later would come the music theatre stuff, such as If I Were a Rich Man, that gift to baritones from composer Jerry Bock, delivered with relaxed wit.

Terfel played tag team all night with Rachelle Durkin and Lisa McCune, both home-grown talents who have made it big in opera and music theatre respectively.

They were both charming and engaging, Durkin threatening to steal the show with her comedic skills in delivering a couple of saucy set pieces.

She partnered Terfel in a few numbers, duelling with him on that show-off tune Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better) with a great sense of joie de vive and sly humour.

You really must get to see her in a full-blown opera. The girl from the outer suburbs of Perth who scraped into WAAPA is now a full-blown opera star with some of the most powerful, luxuriant and supple vocal cords you'll get to hear.

You might have to wait a year, though, because, as Durkin revealed in her best ironic Strine vernacular, she is "up the duff." That's one way of announcing a happy event and explaining a slight protuberance in her tall, elegant figure.

It was an evening of relaxed entertainment in a pastoral setting, with nothing too challenging to shatter the mood of music and wine or demand anything more from the audience than calm attention and a sense of awe that these artists, now in mid-career, have such enviable vocal talents.

Terfel last played Leeuwin in 1999, that first time with Yvonne Kenney as his musical partner. He should come back more often, bringing Durkin with him every time. If Lisa McCune had to play third-string it was not her fault, as she was given limited opportunities. But she is a graceful talent, too.

And a word of praise for the Perth Symphony Orchestra, which has been in existence only since 2011 and is fast earning a reputation for quality musicianship to rival WASO under its conductor Jessica Gethin.

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