£8m divorce of UK’s top opera star Bryn Terfel
by Nic North (via Daily Mail) - Opera superstar Bryn Terfel’s wife of 25 years has ditched him for an unemployed, football-mad father of one almost half her age.
The Mail on Sunday can reveal that the Welsh bass-baritone and his childhood sweetheart Lesley separated before Christmas and are now living apart.
While Bryn tours the opera houses of the world, 47-year-old Lesley seems to have found herself a new man in Ian Pleming, 27, who has moved back in with his mother at her cramped council house.
While it is only a mile from the Terfels’ white-walled mansion in Caernarfon, North Wales, it could be a world away.
It is understood Mrs Terfel went to a nightclub in the town with her new young suitor last weekend, but it ended in mayhem after Mr Pleming was attacked by two men – one of whom was wielding a glass or bottle – in the early hours, as he drank and chatted with Mrs Terfel at the bar.
The attackers were restrained by bouncers who immediately called police, but by the time officers arrived the men had ‘scarpered’.
As door staff at the Cofi Roc consoled an emotional Mr Pleming, he told them he was ‘in a relationship’ with Mrs Terfel, and blurted out that she was divorcing her husband and was likely to receive an £8 million settlement.
A witness said: ‘He was blabbing on about how he and Lesley were an item and how much she was going to get in the divorce settlement.
Mr Pleming certainly gives the impression on his Twitter account that he spends his days watching or playing football, zapping ‘demon monkeys’ in video games and working out. ‘He used to be a striker for Caernarfon Town in the Welsh Premier League and was pretty useful, but he’s working his way down the leagues now,’ the witness said. ‘His team nowadays is Glantraeth FC on Anglesey. He’s also got a kid.’
On Friday afternoon, Mr Terfel, also 47, confirmed that he knew about the attack at Cofi Roc last weekend and that his wife had been at the club with Mr Pleming when it happened.
In a statement, the star said: ‘The first time I knew of this incident was after the event.’
Mr Terfel, who married Lesley in August 1987, made the statement from Milan, where he is currently performing, via his manager of 26 years, Doreen O’Neill.
She confirmed that the Terfels, who have three sons, had split up before Christmas.
Mrs O’Neill said: ‘They are separated and they just want, for the sake of the children, to keep things quiet. Bryn told me before Christmas that they had separated. I do not know the reason for their separation. He didn’t tell me and I didn’t ask the question, to be quite honest.’
Asked if she was aware of Mrs Terfel’s relationship with Mr Pleming and whether that might have triggered the split, Mrs O’Neill said: ‘I have no idea.’
When asked if Mr Terfel was in a new relationship, she responded: ‘Definitely not.’
She added: ‘Bryn is a very private man. I’ve known him and represented him for 26 years and I think he is an outstanding person. All around his profession you will hear the same thing.’
Mrs O’Neill said the singer has ‘kept in close touch’ with sons, Tomos, 17, Morgan, 13, and Deio Sion, 11, since the break-up, adding: ‘Of course he will continue to provide for them and for Lesley.’
She added that Mr Terfel was looking for another home in the Caernarfon area because he wants his estranged wife and their sons to remain at the beautiful Edwardian mansion where they currently live.
However, Mr Terfel – who is starring in Verdi’s Falstaff at Milan’s Teatro Alla Scala – is not expected to return to Britain until mid-May because of planned appearances in Monte Carlo, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Australia, New Zealand and Salt Lake City.
At Cofi Roc yesterday, staff said they were ‘under orders’ not to reveal any details about the attack on Mr Pleming. However, Mr Terfel is understood to have phoned the nightclub from his Milan hotel to establish what happened.
Mr Pleming calls himself ‘Chops’ on his Twitter account, which is understood to be a nickname earned through his willingness ‘to big himself up at all times’, the source said.
North Wales Police said details of the Cofi Roc attack had not been recorded as no arrest was made. It is also understood CCTV footage of the incident has been wiped.
Mrs Terfel, who has spent the week at her home, refused to comment on the attack or her split from her husband.
However, in an interview with The Mail on Sunday in 2007, she hinted at the strain her husband’s success and workload had placed on their marriage and family life.
She said: ‘I think people expect too much of Bryn sometimes. He’s more than a singer, he’s a husband and a father, but opera companies don’t want to hear that.
‘If he lets them, they will have him away working all the time because at the end of the day that’s what makes them the most money. You have to have the courage to say no sometimes, to draw the line.
‘For a long time, when he was younger, Bryn put work before everything else. You have to train for weeks for an opera and he would be away for long stretches of time.
‘People have started to talk about work-life balance now and I think that’s a good thing. People don’t realise that being a singer can take over your whole life.
‘You have to travel all over the world, and your life is mapped out for years in advance.
‘You don’t just have to turn up to sing. With an opera there are weeks of rehearsals.’