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2014年2月20日 星期四

Opera Unlimited

It's often the case that after the artist or the orchestra has finished its formal programme, they would be so delighted with the response that they would give what's called an "encore" (again). If we're lucky, we get two. And if we're even luckier, three. But four! Simply unbelievable! I'm not joking. That's exactly what we got at Saturday' before last's concert by the HKPO batoned by Korean conductor Jung-Ho Pak in a night of  arias, overtures and extracts from a huge variety of operas with the Korean coloratura soprano Sumi Jo as soloist.  Sumi Jo certainly enjoyed herself, throwing herself into the relevant roles in the different operatic scenes with obvious gusto and in the final piece, Offenbach's Olympia's Aria about a toy doll, she moved about as if she were a mechanical doll which required periodic winding by the conductor before she could continue and the conductor came prepared with a huge wooden winding device which he would pretend to apply to her back, drawing some unrestrained mirth from the usual staid concert crowd. There are so many songs from more than two centuries of operas and arias that it would be impossible for me to describe each not even in the briefest detail. So I must give up doing so. In short we had:


The Overture from Rossini's Il Signor Bruschino



Let the Bright Seraphim from Handel's Samson


The Sposa, son disprezzata from Vivaldi's Bajazet


The Triumphal March from Verdi's Aida


I dreamt I Dwelt in Marble Halls from Balfe's The Bohemia Girl


O Luce di quest'anima from Donizetti's Linda di Chamounix


The Overture from Berstein's Candide


Spiel ich die Unschuld vom Lande from J Strauss II's Die Fledermaus


Meine Lippen, sie küssen so heiss.


Saint-Saëns' Bacchanale from his Samson et Dalila


Rachmaninoff's Vocalise


Olympia's Aria from Offenbach's The Tales of Hoffmann.

It was a real feast of operatic and other arias: some solemnly bright, some heroic, some sad, some plaintive, some full of passion and yearning, some poetic, some wistful, some boisterously festive and some humorous. The HKPO acquitted itself, as usual, extremely well, as a truly professional orchestra should, and shows a remarkable ability to adapt quickly to the different moods and the different requirements of different kinds of conducting style. I do not know if it's because where I was sitting, I found that at places, the voice of Sumi Jo was not packed with as much power as as it could have been. But once the orchestra stopped playing, as during some of the "encores", I could hear her perfectly well. But no matter what, it was an evening I would not easily forget: Sumi Jo is a truly remarkable singer with an amazing flexibility in her singing style and not a little acting talent too! I don't know about the others. As far as I am concerned, it was a thoroughly enjoyable musical experience.