Friday, January 28, 2011

Alexandrina Pendatchanska on Google

Here's a funny thing: do a search for "alexandrina pendatchanska interview" and see what comes up at first place.... Strange as I've interviewed lots of people but not Ms Pendatchanska, but its nice to know that this blog has been recognised as the most important source for information about the fiery diva. Eh......

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sunday, January 23, 2011

SLO Carmen in Review (21 Jan 2011)

Our new reviewer Alvin tells us about his experience at opening night of the SLO's new Carmen. It seemed to be quite a visual feast so apologies for the lack of, well, visuals. Production pictures will be published here as soon as they are ready. Meanwhile, on with the review:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Interviews with Carmen Cast Sophie Fournier and Huang Rong-Hai

OMG the Singapore Lyric Opera's production of Carmen opens THIS COMING FRIDAY! Sophie Fournier (Carmen) and Huang Rong-Hai (Escamillo) have kindly taken some time out of final rehearsals to have quick little discussions with us.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Andrea Scholl's New Purcell CD

Andreas Scholl records a CD of Purcell songs and airs, his first attempt at recording Purcell.  In the video below, the star countertenor discusses the recording process and how he is taking revenge on all those mezzos singing castrato roles like Giulio Cesare by recording Dido's Lament:

Scholl singing The Cold Genius Song:

Birth of a New Company - Bellepoque

The folks behind the hilarious Belle Epoque! operetta and art song showcase have gone to create a new production company, Bellepoque, and are returning to the stage with the sequel A Night with Tosti and Friends. Our reviewer Christopher attended their past event and couldn't help laughing throughout the show, so this new show seems like just the thing to cheer us up. Click on the images and check out the Events Page for details.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

An Interview with Maestro Lan Shui from Taiwan

Maestro Lan Shui conducted Mahler's 1st with the NTSO over the last weekend. I didn't attend because I've already gotten tickets for the NSO concert that afternoon (Shostakovich's 1st piano concerto and 11th symphony) and two concerts in a day is probably a little too much for exam week. Nonetheless, here is an exclusive interview with the man on e-zine, where he discusses among many topics studying with Leonard Bernstein, working as artistic director of the SSO, and how there are no classical music e-zines in Singapore (well none that the SSO can be bothered with anyway...) The article is in Chinese but then there's always Google Translate (note that the system translates his name to Aqua Blue and light blue). You can also watch rehearsal footage with the NTSO. So yeah here it is:

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Pianomania - The Movie

OMG Tou Liang's blog has been made into a movie!

Well yeah if only... But then this looks like an interesting film anyhow. Think of it as the classical version of Madonna's Truth or Dare: Its a documentary (or reality TV show) about the travails of piano tuner Stefan Knüpfer and the light-fingered divos and divas that he works with, featuring appearances by Alfred Brendel, Lang Lang and many more piano superstars. We get to follow Knüpfer around the world as strives to find the right tone that is not to open or closed (which I believe is the pianists' equivalent of not turning on the air-con so that it won't dry the vocal chords).

This next clip shows Knüpfer assisting the comedy duo of Igudesman and Joo by taking off a piano leg and replacing it, literally propping up the piano, with a violin:

Erm you know I've been out of the country for a while, has it opened in Singapore already?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

An Intro to SLO's Carmen Main Cast

So yeah SLO's new production of Carmen is opening in two weeks time, featuring a cast of new and familiar faces. So to help you familiarise yourself with the main cast, here are their official bios as provided by the SLO press release. Notable points are firstly that this will be Joshua Tan's first opera conducting gig in his hometown. Sophie Fournier, an experienced Carmen, has sung with such legends as Georges Prêtre, so her Carmen should be something to check out. Huang Rong-Hai, a former principal singer at the Shanghai Opera House, student of Liao Chang-Yong and colleague of numerous top PRC conductors (but now based in Malaysia or so I've heard), this will be his debut opera performance in Singapore. Lastly, Li Yang, student of Nancy Yuen at NAFA and had only just made her SLO opera debut in the bit role of Pappagena, will be taking on the principal soprano role of Micaela in only her second main stage SLO assignment. The Mad Scene wishes her and the rest of the cast and crew the very best performances come 21 January 2011.


Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Commedia Lirica by NAFA

The students of NAFA's vocal studies department are inviting us to their production of opera scenes entitled Commedia Lirica next Tuesday, 11 January 2011. Scenes from Verdi's Falstaff, Mozart's L'oca di Cairo and Xu Chang Hui’s (许常惠) Madame White Snake (白蛇傳). The Mozart piece was composed in 1783 and abandoned after he had completed just seven out of the ten numbers. It has since been edited into an operetta in one act. Here's your chance to see some rarely performed works performed by promising young local singers, and best of all its FREE! BUT you still need to get tickets online, go to the Events Page to find out how.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Dessay and Florez in La Sonnambula

Our regular reviewer ST offers his thoughts on the DVD of the Met's new La Sonnambula, featuring Natalie Dessay and Juan Diego Florez:

La Sonnambula by Vincenzo Bellini

Natalie Dessay as Amina
Juan Diego Florez as Elvino
Michele Pertusi as Rodolfo
Jennifer Black as Lisa
Jane Bunnell as Teresa

Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra
Conducted by Evelino Pido

This is the Metropolitan Opera's production of the charming Bellini opera recorded live in March 2009. The simple story of a young innocent girl in love being misunderstood because of her sleep-walking has been transformed to modern days. This updated version is set in the backstage of an opera house with a cast rehearsing the opera La Sonnambula. The soprano singing Amina was actually sleepwalking and caused all the misunderstanding among friends and colleagues.

I can accept updating of old works on stage but this staging caused some confusion amongst audiences. I am not sure if everything worked out well. Various changes achieved different degrees of success: Amina’s Act 1 aria showed Natalie Dessay trying out several pairs of shoes and several sets of wigs (ok and understandable), the Act 1 finale has chorus members throwing out music scores after tearing them to pieces (confusing and a bit silly), the Act 2 finale has Dessay walking over the orchestral pit on a moving plank simulating Amina sleepwalking among the audience (quite ingenious). Fortunately the beautiful score and musical performance carried the evening of entertainment successfully. The end of the opera brought us back to a stage depicting the little Switzerland village as Bellini intended and that was charming.

La Sonnambula is definitely one of those operas that rely much on the prima donna for a successful staging. Natalie Dessay has sung the role of Amina before. She looked charming on stage and her small and slim built was also convincing for the character. Vocally she was still agile but the voice lost some quality when subjected to pressure. It was loveliest in the quieter passages and the famous “Ah, non credea mirarti” turned out very well. The finale “Ah, non giunge” turned out reasonably sparkling but marred by occasional shrill notes that were not very steady. Compared to singers who have recorded this part, her performance lacked the drama and pathos of Callas (1957) and the beautiful tone and lovely trills of Sutherland (1962). Of course those great ladies recorded this extremely demanding music in studio.

To me, the star of the evening was Juan Diego Florez who has already made these high lying bel canto roles his own. He was in glorious voice and phrased beautifully. The duet “Prendi, l’anel ti dono” was meltingly beautiful. The high tessitura of the aria “Ah! Perche non posso odiarti” held no terror at all. In addition, he was a handsome sight to behold. No wonder Amina and Lisa were crazy about him.

The rest of the cast was more than adequate. The Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra performed well under Evelino Pido, who is by now a veteran conductor of these bel canto works. Other than the rather unconventional staging, the evening would have been a most entertaining one.

Happy 2011!

Happy New Year to everyone reading The Mad Scene! May 2011 bring you greater joy and happiness!