Sunday, July 25, 2010

Magic Flute - Opening Night 23 July 2010

Reviewer Christopher offers his opinion on the SLO's Magic Flute:

I found this evening to be one of good production values and overall high quality of music-making. Despite some opening night mix-ups with the surtitles and sets, the SLO delivered a performance rich in musical and dramatic values (though it must be said that the mix-ups are much less apparent in previous opening nights).

The orchestra probably needed some time to warm up, seeing that the evening started with an uneven overture; the structure of the overture could not gel, and it didn't help when the three horn chord (that signify the temple) failed to deliver the punch. However, by the time the stage action started, the orchestra regained its form and conductor Alice Farnham did a good job subsequently, bringing out the details of many innovative orchestrations that exemplify the creativity of Mozart.

In my opinion, the roles of Pamina and Tamino are rather ungrateful parts; while there is a lot of difficult music to sing and a lot of stage time to cope with, the audience's attention is almost invariably stolen by the camp theatrics of Papageno and virtuosic histrionics of the Queen of the Night. Nancy Yuen and Kota Murakami as Pamino and Tamino respectively did not managed to prevent the remaining casts from stealing the limelight in the first act, thus the audience needed to wait till the second act to marvel at Nancy Yuen's floating  high notes, which she sang beautifully in Ach, ich fuehl's , and her performance got better and better thereon. In the full-throated vocalisms of Kota Murakami, we now see a more lyrical and more involved performance than in his debut in La Boheme.

Despite the great advantage Papageno had in Mozart's creation (such as the tuneful arias and duets, the comical characterisation, the story line that give him a greater prominence than Tamino, and the fanciful costumes) Song Kee Chang only gave a dutiful performance but is not able to steal the limelight to himself. Many of the phrases that call for changes of tone colour were missed.

Of the supporting cast, Lemuel dela Cruz as Monostatos charmed the audience with his acting. In the three ladies, one would like to hear good ensemble work, and the trio of Ee-Ping, Cherylene Liew and Anna Koor delivered it marvellously. The choir is well rehearsed and they delivered great power in those temple scenes.

Of the entire cast, the singer that most impressed me is Tai Hsiao Chun as the Queen of the Night. I am awed by her, she was indeed Queen of THIS night, singing her virtuosic coloratura with the mechanical precision of a Swiss watch. While "no amount of engineering can prevent flooding" (to quote our beloved Minister Mentor), her skilled engineering of the human voice produced a machine that sang such precise and effortless coloratura passages with such musicality that it took my breath away. Not only are her high "F"s effortless and clean, but those full-voiced silky runs are so smooth and so even that one just couldn't ask for more.

I am very thrilled by this performance of The Magic Flute, it is musically and tastefully done, treatment of the storyline was reasonably progressed and spaced out. Keep it up, SLO, I would like to hear more of you.

1 comment:

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.