Friday, September 26, 2014

Interviews with Cast of Bellepoque's 'Letters to Juliet' - 1 to 4 October 2014

Bellepoque's latest production Letters to Juliet is a composite of Shakespeare's classic plays, acted and sung to numerous hit operatic adaptations by Verdi, Gounod, Purcell and Rossini, performed by an international, locally based cast. We speak to tenor Melvin Tan and soprano Satsuki Nagatome to

Cast of Letters to Juliet
The Mad Scene: Hi Melvin and Satsuki, thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, please describe to us in your own words what Letters to Juliet is about?

Melvin: A celebration of strong women in Shakespeare’s plays that have been set into opera.

Satsuki: It’s cross between Shakespeare stories in spoken and operatic form, packaged into a contemporary theatrical work. This is a very interesting production for me as opera singer.

The Mad Scene: What characters will you be playing in Letters to Juliet and what will you be singing?

Melvin: I will be playing Romeo and sing the aria from Gounod's opera, L’amour, l’amour…. Ah! Leve toi soleil!, plus the duet between Romeo and Juliet in Act 2, O nuit divineGounod’s Romeo is very similar to Shakespeare’s Romeo, even the aria and the duet is almost a literal translation of his soliloquy. You can’t really improve on Shakespeare!

Satsuki: I’ll be playing two characters, Lady Macbeth (Macbeth) and Desdemona (Otello). I will be singing Lady Macbeth's opening scene Nel di della Vittoria – Vieni ! t’affretta !- Or tutti sorgete, the Ave Maria from Verdi's version of Otello and two duets from Rossini's version of the same story. I think that Desdemona in Verdi's operatic adaptation is a stronger woman than Shakespeare’s original.

Satsuki Nagatome
The Mad Scene: What other engagements are on your schedule after this concert?

Melvin: I will be reprising my first role that I sang with the Singapore Lyric Opera 10 years ago in 2004! Vicomte Cascada in Léhar’s The Merry Widow. Its my 10th Anniversary of singing roles with SLO, quite a milestone. After that I’ve been engaged by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra for a semi-staged opera at Huayi 2015.

Satsuki: I’ll join SLO’s Merry Widow as Olga on 24 to 26 October at Esplanade Theatre

The Mad Scene: What opera roles or concert pieces (oratorio solos, song cycles) would you like to pick up in the future?

Melvin: More Donizetti (Edgardo) and Britten (Quint, Male Chorus).

Satsuki: I love the romantic Italian opera so I'm learning some roles from Verdi’s opera such Aida and Abigaile (Nabucco). I would love to play roles from Puccini’s operas like  Madam Butterfly, Tosca or Turandot.

The Mad Scene: Who are your operatic heroes growing up (singers, conductors, directors etc), what attracted you to them?

Satsuki: I have many operatic heroes but recently I was falling love to Italian Soprano Amarilli Nizza. I saw her performance as Abigaile in Verdi’s Nabucco at Arena di Verona last year. Her voice was powerful and strong, she was a true opera diva to my eyes and I couldn’t stop smiling even though her character is not a happy one.

Melvin: I did a tribute recital a few years ago to 3 tenors that have mentored me and shaped my understanding of my repertoire so I would name the late Philip Langridge, Robert Tear and Anthony Rolfe Johnson as being quite important to me as a singer. I might also add my studio mate John Mark Ainsley and Mark Padmore as inspirations.

Melvin Tan
The Mad Scene: Which music or video albums have you been listening to recently which you can recommend to our readers?

Satsuki: Not an album, but you can hear and watch plenty of Amarilli Nizza on her official website here:

Melvin: Jonas Kaufmann’s new album Du bist die Welt fuer Mich (there are both English and German versions) which celebrate popular music from late 19th century and early 20th century Berlin. Lots of unusual tracks to recommend including a song originally sung by Marlene Dietrich.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why should we attend Letters to Juliet?

Satsuki: You can enjoy interesting modern drama and beautiful opera together!

Bellepoque's production of Letters to Juliet is on 1 to 4 October; the 3 October show is already sold out. Part of the proceeds will go toward benefiting the Breast Cancer Foundation Singapore. More information can be found on the Events Page.

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