Opera star Bryn Terfel 'speechless' to learn about knighthood
Opera star Bryn Terfel was "speechless" when he discovered he had been made a knight for his services to music in the New Year Honours list.
The Welsh bass-baritone said his face "turned a wonderful colour of white" and his "heart rate tripled" when he opened the letter informing him of the honour, having thought the envelope would contain rugby tickets.
Terfel, who received a CBE in 2003, told the Press Association: "My agency rang me while I was singing in Prague and said there's a very important letter here for you, come and get it this week. I thought nothing of it - I thought they were the tickets for the autumn internationals.
"I opened about 20 of them and then came to this one that was glaringly obvious that it came from something very important."
He said opening the letter made him feel "incredibly honoured" and he hoped the knighthood would encourage young singers like he felt inspired by the late Welsh singer Sir Geraint Evans.
The 51-year-old said Sir Geraint "opened the doors" for him, and he hoped he would "carry" the title as well.
He added: "I feel now that being knighted gives you another impetus to maybe work more tirelessly with the foundation that I've started, I need to work more with that. Maybe just that three-letter word will tend to give some weight to helping.
"I looked at Sir Geraint Evans and I thought Sir Geraint had ploughed the way forward for the next generation of singers - the same internationally - and therefore I hope that young singers will see this with me as well - that I can carry it as he did for 23 years, maybe more."
The news of the knighthood comes after a "great year" for the singer, in which he became engaged to Hannah Stone, 29, former official harpist to the Prince of Wales. The couple are expecting a baby in the spring.
"It's been a rollercoaster of a year - (I turned) 50 last year and, my Hannah, we're engaged to be married and she's six months pregnant, so again that's something incredibly exciting for next year."
Alun Cairns, secretary of state for Wales, congratulated Terfel on the knighthood, adding: "He really is an inspiration and his music brings much joy to so many all around the world."