Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Interview with Martin Ng

Fans of SLO productions would be familiar with the face and voice of Martin Ng Hon Wai, the bass-baritone who has sung numerous supporting roles with the company since winning their only competition many years ago. Come 28 April 2011 Martin will finally take centrestage at YMS's After 8 series (but held at the Esplanade Recital Studio so don't get the locations mixed-up!), in a recital titled From Monteverdi to Mascagni. This is a comprehensive survey of Italian songs from the Baroque to Romantic periods (more info here). Here, Martin tells us what we can look forward to and what he has been up to since last appearing at the SLO's Magic Flute:

The Mad Scene: Tell us, what have you been up to since the SLO’s Magic Flute?

Martin: After SLO's Magic Flute I returned to Italy and auditioned for Bach's Magnificat and sang the Bass soloist under Alberto Rasi, an early music exponent in Verona. I've also been involved in a series of contemporary music dedicated to Jewish music and composers who died in the concentration camp, it was my first experience with modern music and I have to say that the experience was wonderful. And finally, I won 2nd prize in an international competition singing Rossini and Haydn.

The Mad Scene: Describe your recital From Monteverdi to Mascagni in your own words. What can music lovers look forward to at the event?

Martin: It is a representation Italian music from the early baroque to the verismo period. From the early music of Caccini and Monteverdi to middle and late Baroque of Alessandro Scarlatti and Vivaldi. And then to the bel canto period of Rossini, Donizetti and Bellini and then to the Romanticism of Verdi and Ponchielli and concluding with the verismo of Puccini, Leoncavallo and Mascagni. In a few words a kaleidescope of Italian vocal chamber music (musica da camera) from 1600 to 1900.

The Mad Scene: Shane Thio will be accompanying you on harpsichord and piano. What differences are there when performing with these two instruments?

Martin: Well for a start , we all know the sound of the pianoforte... for the harpsichord...mmmm as Thomas Beecham puts it so well...The sound of a harpsichord - two skeletons copulating on a corrugated tin roof in a thunderstorm. It just has to be that sound that accompanies you when you're singing anything before 1800.

The Mad Scene: Verdi and Puccini wrote art songs? You’d never have guessed from the thousands of recordings and concerts of their arias! Given the popularity of these composers why do you think their chamber art songs are so seldom featured in performance?

Martin: Well I guess its because they didn't write art songs as well as they wrote their operas. Their real genius's was in writing music for the theatre, I.e. dramatic music. Just as Schubert's operas aren't as well known as his lieder. But on the other hand, studying the art songs of these masters helps us understand better their style. In their songs, we can often identify pieces of which, are similar or identical to the famous arias or duets we hear in their operatic masterpieces.

The Mad Scene: What’s engagements do you have after your homecoming gig?

Martin: I'm singing the First Nazarene in Strauss' Salome for the SLO and bass soloist for Bach's Saint John's Passion at Santa Maria under Alberto Rassi, and Faure's Requiem in Villafranca, Verona.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, who do you prefer, Callas or Tebaldi?

Martin: Mmmmmmmm how about Siepi?

Yes Cesare Siepi to Martin is just like champagne while Callas and Tebaldi are both like Coca-Cola. Check out Martin Ng in From Monteverdi to Mascagni on 28 April 2011. Ticketing information at the Events Page.

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