Wednesday, June 5, 2013

REVIEW: The Tales of Hoffmann by Opera Hong Kong

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Grand Theatre, Friday May 24


Amidst my busy schedule, I was able to write a review for Time-Out HK. Click here.

Music by Jacques Offenbach
Libretto by Jules Barbier
Opera in 3 Acts with Prologue and Epilogue
1st performed in Paris, at the Opéra Comique, on 10 February 1881
A production of Opéra de Monte-Carlo

Hong Kong Sinfonietta
Opera Hong Kong Chorus

Creative Team:
Producer: Warren Mok
Director: Jean-Louis Grinda
Conductor: Emmanuel Joel-Hornak
Set and lighting designer: Laurent Castaingt
Costume designer: David Belugou
Choreography: Eugènie Andrin
Assistant Director: Jean-Philippe Corre

Cast includes:
Hoffmann: Luca Lombardo
Antonia / Guilietta / Stella: Sinéad Mulhern
Lindorf / Coppelius / Dr Miracle / Dapertutto: Nicolas Cavallier
Olympia: Isabelle Philippe
Nicklausse / La Muse de la poésie: Aurhelia Varak
Andres / Cochenille / Frantz / Pittichinacio: Frankie Liu
Luther / Crespel: Sammy Chien
Spalanzani: Chen Yong
La voix de la mère d'Antonia: Carol Lin
Schlemil: Albert Lim
Nathanael: Christopher Leung
Hermann: Bryan Woo

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REVIEW: An Evening with Renee Fleming

Hong Kong Cultural Centre Concert Hall, Thursday May 9

Again, I blame work for preventing me to write something about this wonderful concert… and now, I can only attribute my availability to flu. Really pathetic.

The recital was ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS. My expectation was high, yet Renee and Hartmut Höll (piano) exceeded it. Renee, is one of the very few soprano that I will buy every single disc she recorded; and YES, that includes Dark Hopes. I had the good fortune of seeing Renee as Donna Anna in 2000 in The Metropolitan Opera’s production of Don Giovanni. Needless to say she was most impressive. But seeing her in a recital is a totally different story. It is in a recital where her stage personality came across wonderfully and her ability to switch from one language to another, and from one style to another was simply amazing. Subjectively, I wouldn’t say Renee’s voice is the most beautiful one... a lot of people have beautiful voice. It is, however, Renee’s commanding control of her voice that made her singing truly outstanding.

The evening’s recital was composed of works by Handel, Richard Strauss, Debussy, Cantaloube, Rodgers and Hammerstein II, Lerner and Loewe, Cilea, Refice and Zandonai. I personally like the Strauss the most, while like less the Handel. Amongst all the pieces sang though, I have to say that the only one I have an issue with is the I’m in Love with A Wonderful Guy from South Pacific. While Renee has a beautifully strong middle to low range for a soprano; and she uses it to very good dramatic effect in a lot of the songs, this South Pacific classic was just a bit too much. Renee, graciously gave three encores and had the audience eating out of her hands. Me? I was in cloud nine.

O Sleep, why dost thou leave me (from Semele)
To fleeting pleasures make your court (from Samson)
Calm thou, My Soul (from Alexander Balus)
Endless Pleasures (from Semele)

Richard Strauss

Verlaine Settings
     Il pleure dans mon coeur

Chants d'Auvergne
     La Delaïssado
     Malurous qu’o uno fenno

Rodgers & Hammerstein II
The Sound of Music (from The Sound of Music)
I’m in Love with a Wonderful Guy (from South Pacific)
Hello, Young Lovers (from The King and I)

Lerner & Loewe
Show Me (from My Fair Lady)

Io son l’umile ancella (from Adriana Lecouvreur)

Ombra di nube

Ier dalla fabbrica a Triana (from Conchita)

Gershwin: Summertime
Puccini: O mio babbino Caro
Lerner & Loewe: I Could Have Danced All Night

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