Monday, November 21, 2016

SLO Gala Concert 'Love and Passion' in Review

Singapore Lyric Opera Gala Concert - Love and Passion
Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore
18 Nov 2016

Jason Lai - Conductor
Wang Bing-Bing - Soprano
Anna Koor - Mezzo-Soprano
William Lim - Baritone

Also featuring artists from SLO–Leow Siak Fah Young Artists Programme:

Teo Kai Xin - Soprano
Jeremy Koh - Tenor


Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra
Singapore Lyric Opera Chorus
Singapore Lyric Opera Children's Choir

A Review by Hawk Liu

Every time the annual opera gala comes along, I anticipate with trepidation, wondering which same pieces would be performed yet again. I am glad this time they have ventured a little bit more into new territory with the likes of merce, dilette amiche, Si puo, Je veux vivre and the Triumphant March from Aida.

With a solid cast of soloists and some new repertoire, it was certainly a delightful evening. The orchestra played well - good use of dynamics and great interpretations. I think the conductor did a good job in bringing out the 'opera' from the orchestra. Unfortunately, I found the brass section uneven sometimes. In general, the playing was too loud for the singers and even the chorus - the perpetual problem in many performances. The entire chorus with the children's chorus was no much for the orchestra in volume, especially in the final chorus of Carmen and Aida's March.
The children's chorus was outstanding in the Italian excerpt from Turandot, producing solid, lovely vocal tones. Unfortunately they faltered a little in the same aspects in the German of Hansel und Gretel, losing the focus in their tone. Indeed, Italian is the best language to sing in. The adult chorus had a good sing throughout, with the Cavalleria Rusticana's pieces particularly moving and harmonically beautiful.

The soloists were all wonderful to watch and I appreciated the acting they put into their performances. The standout for the evening had to be Teo Kai Xin's Je veux vivre. The voice loved the concert hall and rang out well. She got her well deserved enthusiastic applause. William Lim was engaging in Si Puo and the orchestra worked very well with him in this piece.

I was very sad at the end of the concert, not because it was the end, but because it ended yet again with Traviata's Brindisi which is played to death in every concert around the world. I got to say the singers were interesting in this Brindisi and I wasn't as bored as I thought I would be...BUT....please may we NOT have the Brindisi in ANY concert for the next ten years?

On a positive note, I found this gala very interesting to watch despite some uneven performances and I, as a member of the local audience, would love to see the annual opera gala grow by venturing a whole lot more into new territories in their repertoire choices.

[Note from Ed: by the way, awesome programme notes!]

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