Saturday, June 16, 2012

Conversations with Jeong Ae-Ree and David Charles Tay

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Publicity for the spanking new New Opera Singapore's first full opera production of L'elisir d'amore is gathering steam, including a special feature story in July's issue of Time Out Singapore. Meanwhile here are excerpts from our short chit-chat with artistic director Jeong Ae-Ree and leading man David Charles Tay, minus the bits that are used in the story. Do look out for the published magazine when it hits newsstands on 1 July 2012. Meanwhile here's what else we've discussed:


The Mad Scene: In addition to your regular recitals, what would you say are the highlights of your performance and teaching career?

Jeong Ae-Ree: A few years back, I was very sick and I had quite heavy medication and due to that heavy medication, I lost half of my hair (I have it all back now), to cover that I was wearing bandanas or scarves. Meanwhile I had a concert organized by Esplanade called Cruel Amour which was with a viola da gamba and a cembalo. The pieces we were performing were old French music which was never edited before, so I had to work very hard to put the words and transcribe the notation to the modern way. It was such a tedious job and coupled with the hair loss I had a huge problem with appearing onstage to perform. For the concert, I wore a wig and my mood was really down but after the concert when I raised my head, I saw wild standing ovations. The moment stayed in my heart for a long time; I still remember the feeling I had that very night. Even though I had many beautiful nights to remember that night was still very special as I was really having a very hard time with myself.

And of course I was super proud when Janani won first price in LLangollen competition.

The Mad Scene: The press release for L’elisir d’amore describes the production as set in a factory at an unspecified time period. Why the need to be different from the opera’s original plot?

Jeong Ae-Ree: To speak more to the audience, and connect better with them. I don’t think agriculture speaks a lot to Singaporean audiences, as Singapore is not an Agriculture society. Well that was our stage director Mr. Goh Ming Siu's idea anyway.

The Mad Scene: Is this factory located in Singapore by any chance?

Jeong Ae-Ree: That you will see when you come to watch our opera!


The Mad Scene: Hi David, thanks for chatting with us. Is this your first opera role?

David Charles Tay: Nope this isn't the first.

The Mad Scene: What other roles have you played?

David Charles Tay: My first full role was Lindoro in the US premiere of Nina o sia la pazza per amore by Paisiello at the Manhattan School of Music. Since then I've also played Piquillo in La Perichole in Boston with the New England Conservatory, and most recently Sam Sharkey in Benjamin Britten's Paul Bunyan, also with NEC.

The Mad Scene: How does it feel to be the leading man in the new company’s inaugural opera production?

David Charles Tay: It's an honor of course, and exciting to be a part of such beautiful music and a heart-warming story.

The Mad Scene: Any birthing pains? I gather that things might not be as polished as more established organizations.

David Charles Tay: well the difficulty lies mostly in finding financial support and manpower to have things run smoothly in the production process, but the director and singers have been passionately working on the music.

The Mad Scene: You have travelled the world and seen quite a lot, is it a stretch to play a country bumpkin role like Nemorino?

David Charles Tay: haha… well in our production he's not the country bumpkin from traditional productions.

The Mad Scene: ah yes, I was going to talk about that...

David Charles Tay: He's a factory worker in our modern take. But I get your meaning. It was a stretch at first, when I was trying to wrap my mind around how simple he is. Having said that... he's not stupid, he's just simple and pure. But then I realised, when it comes to love and wanting love, we're all pretty simple in that way aren't we? Then that much isn't a stretch.

The Mad Scene: no he's not stupid, just innocent I suppose.

David Charles Tay: exactly. I think by focusing on the purity of his intentions, you find the essence of what makes Nemorino so lovable.

The Mad Scene: so can I say that for you it’s kind of a regression to a less cynical part of your personality?

David Charles Tay: Haha perhaps? I think there's a bit of Nemorino in all of us, whether we'd like to admit it or not.

The Mad Scene: How about music wise? Which parts appeal to you most?

David Charles Tay: musically I think the duets with Adina are wonderful, and his lament after finding out Adina plans to marry Belcore is most ravishing.

The Mad Scene: what's the title of the lament? Its not una furtiva right?

David Charles Tay: Adiina, credimi, and of course Una furtiva lagrima is another very special moment.

The Mad Scene: Nemorino is quite a popular role among top tenors, afraid of comparisons?

David Charles Tay: haha tenors have been singing Nemorino since 1832... if fear of comparison stopped anyone, we wouldn't have all the beautiful recordings of L'elisir d'amore we have today. I just worry about giving my best, in a way that I would feel accountable to myself as an artist.

The Mad Scene: have you researched any cds or dvds while preparing for the role?

David Charles Tay: I've certainly heard recordings of L'elisir d'amore before, but I tend to stay away from listening too much to any one recording when I'm preparing a work, so I find my own interpretation and avoid blind mimicry.

The Mad Scene: Thanks David, it has been a pleasure.

David Charles Tay: Thank you very much Steven, was fun!


New Opera Singapore's production of L'elisir d'amore runs from 20 to 22 July 20120. It stars David Charles Tay and Kee Loi-Seng as Nemorino, and Teng Xiang-Ting and Tan Sin-Sim as Adina. Check out the Events Page for ticketing details.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Madscene for this interesting interview but who's Giannetta, Dulcamara and Belcore? Are they doubled too? Would love to know more! :>


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