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Contact: irina.stanescu@ymail.com
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2 reviews from Singapore

I was sure that in about a week people will start writing reviews. And I was right.
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I found two long and informative review on Mad Scene Blog . Thanks for posting and thanks to those two people that wrote them: ST (an artistical review) and Christopher (a more technical review).
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Finally somebody mentions the encores. There were 5 of them:
* O mio babbino caro - Angela Gheorghiu
* Muzica - Angela Gheorghiu
* No puede ser - Marius Manea
* Granada - Angela Gheorghiu & Marius Manea
* Brindisi - Angela Gheorghiu & Marius Manea
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And some mentions about Angela's outfits - see the last paragraph in Christopher's review.
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ST’s Review
Opera Gala Performance (10.10.2009 at the Esplanade Concert Hall)
Singapore Sun Festival 2009
Angela Gheorghiu, soprano
Marius Manea, tenor
Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Paoli Olmi
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Programme
1. Verdi - Overture to La Forza del Destino
2. Verdi - La Traviata “Parigi o cara”
3. Catalani – La Wally “Ebben? Ne andro lontana”
4. Puccini - La Boheme “Che gelida manina”
5. Verdi - Prelude to Act 1 La Traviata
6. Donizetti - L’Elisir D’amore “Caro elisir”
Intermission
7. Verdi - Overture to Giovanna d’Arco
8. Mascagni – L’Amico Fritz “Suzel bon di”
9. Verdi – Luisa Miller “Quando la sere al placido”
10. Puccini – Madama Butterfly “Un bel di vedremo”
11. Mascagni – Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana
12. Puccini – La Boheme “O soave fanciulla”
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Singapore opera lovers’ much anticipated evening has finally arrived. The concert hall was almost a full house on 10 October 2009. Under the direction of Maestro Paoli Olmi, the orchestra started off the evening with the dramatic overture to Verdi’s “La Forza del Destino”. Upon the conclusion of this famous overture, the star of the evening, Angela Gheorghiu appeared on stage with her co-star, tenor Marius Manea amidst enthusiastic greetings.
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As a reward to the enthusiastic audience, Gheorghiu was in fine voice throughout the evening. She also showcased no fewer than 3 outfits (at least one was rather revealing). On the official programme, she sang 2 arias and participated in 4 duets.
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The La Wally aria was a bit wobbly at times but the ever popular “Un bel di, vedremo” was radiant and moving. In the duets, she was in turn teasing as Adina (L’Elisir D’amore), and shy and charming as Suzel (L’Amico Fritz). She was musically perfect in the opening “Parigi o cara” but the performance did not suggest Violetta’s tragic condition at all. Perhaps this was the first vocal item of the evening and the singers were not quite warmed up yet. The “La Boheme” love duet at the end of the programme showcased some really beautifully held high notes.
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Compared to her famous recordings, the real thing when heard live had a softer quality, bit less metal in it, more velvet liked. Compared to Moffo’s voice in the 50s and early 60s, both had beautiful lyric voices but Moffo’s voice could be more harsh and metallic when forced. Ghoerghiu’s was smoother, always maintaining that velvet quality and thus making it sound more beautiful.
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The Romanian tenor Marius Manea was a singer new to me. His voice was that of a lyric tenor, with colours that are reminiscent of Nicola Gedda even if not as polished. Perhaps with time he would be adding heavier roles to his repertoire. He made a tentative start in “Parigi o cara”, then settled down and sang a good “Che gelida manina”. In the duets, he was most charming as Nemorino (L’Elisir D’amore) and Fritz (L’Amico Fritz), and was suitably ardent in the Boheme love duet. The recitative leading up to the Rodolfo’s famous aria in Verdi’s Luisa Miller might have been a shade too heavy for his voice at the moment, but the aria itself was beautifully phrased. He demonstrated superb breath control and ended the aria with its high option which earned much applause from the audience.
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The singers sang no less than 5 encore pieces. Gheorghiu started off with a ravishing account of Puccini’s famous “O mio babbino caro” which brought down the house. She then sang that Romanian song “Muzica” which she recorded and sang often at concerts. Manea then took over and sang “No puede ser”, a Spanish aria first introduced to me by Placido Domingo at the first 3 Tenor Concert in 1990. Haunted by that vivid memory of the great Placido Domingo, I found Manea’s voice a shade too light for this excerpt. Perhaps an aria from “L’Elisir D’amore” or “La Traviata” would suit his voice better for the time being. The 2 singers then joined forces to sing Lara’s “Granada” and concluded the concert with that obligatory “Brindisi” from “La Traviata”.
Throughout the evening, the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra provided splendid support under the direction of Maestro Paoli Olmi. In addition to the overture from “La Forza del Destino,’ they also played the overture to “Giovanna d’Arco” and gave beautiful accounts of Prelude to Act 1 of ”La Traviata” and the famous “Intermezzo” from “Cavalleria Rusticana” by Mascagni. I am sure most audience members went home very happy after the 2 hour concert.
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Christopher’s review:

Angela Gheorghiu, Marius Manea, Paolo Olmi with the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra delivered an excellent selections of 19th century Opera highlights at the Esplanade on 10 October. The most well known amongst Singapore audiences, Angela Gheorghiu certainly lived up her reputation as an international artist, but that did not stop conductor Olmi from stealing a lot of the limelight from her.
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Structurally, the concert program came with a symmetrical plan:

Orchestral
Duet
Soprano aria
Tenor aria
Orchestral
Duet
intermission
Orchestral
Duet
Tenor aria
Soprano aria
Orchestral
Duet
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The conductor certainly had given thought to such a symmetrical line-up, allowing the soloists to demonstrate their virtuosity at the same time permitting the orchestra to show off fireworks as well. The opera selections was balanced with excerpts from all the major Italian opera composers of the 19th century.
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The conductor gave a very balanced chiaroscuro between the soloists and the orchestra. He gave the soloist the liberty of tempo-rubato, yet was able to direct the orchestra to come in precisely. Difficult recitative and fast passages are well supported showing the artistry of the maestro.
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Angela was just a little restrained at Verdi “Parigi o cara” (then again, Violetta was ill, and expected to have a restrained dynamics), but fully warmed up at Catalani’s “Ebben”, in which she displayed her full dynamic range, great sensitivity towards Catalani’s subtle tonal changes, and her beautiful portamento. She got better and better, and her Puccini “Un Bel Di Vedremo” was the best moment of the concert. Even though it was a concert performance, her delivery was so convincing that it had the presence of a staged performance.
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Romanian Tenor Marius Manea was straight into form with the first “Traviata” duet, displaying great dynamic range. His “Che Gelida Manina” was taken with a slower tempo, creating a more pensive feel while displaying fine technical control leading up to the sustained high “C”. He executed agogic accents to enhance the intense emotion, excellent enunciation of consonants and ringing vowels. He was at his best in Verdi’s “Quando le sere al Placido”. There were great moments when he dared to use a rough, raw quality in the voice to display great emotions… Ah!!! That natural quality bites so well that the audience gave him a standing oviation at the end of this aria.
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Next the duet selections:
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In the first duetto, Verdi’s “Parigi o cara”, the orchestra was slightly overpowered by both soloists, especially during the pizzicato of the strings. This duetto ended wonderfully with the voices of both soloists ringing down the hall, and the conductor sensitively ended the orchestra to let that ringing echo on.
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The second duetto, Donizetti “Caro Elisir” was a difficult selection. Particularly the opening recitative, there were a lot of changes in tonality within every phrase, and the soloist would experience difficulties in maintaining the tone centre. Especially in the tenor’s part, where he had to be just that little “off-pitch” to make act out the effect of the magic elixir is having on his character, but too much of which becomes unmusical. This was probably the most virtuosic piece in the entire concert, and the conductor rightfully chose it to close the first half of the concert. Alas, there was an inappropriate clapping midway when Angela (as Adina) sang “Bravissimo! La lezionn ti giova”, where, as in many stage productions, the audience entered with applause.
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The third duetto, after the exciting Verdi “Giovanna d’Arco” overture (more about that later), is the jovial Mascagni “Suzel, Buon di!”. The soloists are totally at ease, their light-hearted acting added a lot of presence to the music, and the beautiful duet weaved on, to a magical moment of allargando (Alas, a cough from audience ruined the moment).
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The forth duetto, Puccini “O suave fanciulla” was the best performed item in the entire concert. Such beautiful singing and music making for such a well-written opera, the magic of the moment was so lovely that this reviewer is not going to spoil it by going into details. Rightfully this piece ended the concert with the soloists walking towards the exit.
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Now the orchestra selections:
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The overture to “La forza del destino” opened the concert with a big bang. Immediately it showcased the virtuosity of the woodwinds and brass as well as well articulated strings. Immediately, it established the artistry of the maestro and the well-rehearsed orchestra (both relatively unknown to Singapore audiences).
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The prelude to Act 1 of “La Traviata” allowed the soloists to rest and prepare for the demanding “Cherry Duet” to come. To this reviewer, this was the only weak part of the whole concert, where the strings sounded a little untidy, but it was forgivable.
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The overture to “Giovanna d’Arco” after intermission was the best performed orchestral piece. This piece is probably the least known to audience, so the freshness added to the magic fireworks. Once again, the clean teamwork showed the commanding power of the conductor. The ensemble effect was so exciting and aptly opened the second half of the concert.
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“Intermezzo” from “Cavalleria Rusticana” showcased the best of the string playing, satin-like and sensual, the singing tone of the violins were well supported by the cellos and double basses. It was an impressive performance of this well-known piece.
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Finally, the encores: Angela was in total command as the diva. She sang “O mio babino caro” (excellently) and her usual romanian “Muzika” (with “BOOMZ”). Manea sang a Spanish song “No puede ser”, which was free and exciting, leading to the soloists to sing another infectious Spanish song, the popular ”Granadas”.
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At this time, the audience were so receptive that Verdi “Brindisi” from “La Traviata” was certainly appropriate to close the evening. Angela asked the audience to sing along, and the conductor turned around and signalled to the audience to follow him. He did more than the usual “interative” portion, and actually asked the audience to follow his dynamic (sorry to say that the audience did not understand his conducting, but what a nice way to end the concert). This was really a fun piece, and nice way to end a magical night of music.
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What do i dislike about the concert? Actually the audience was well behaved and had very little interruption (except for the really unforgivable cough for the Cherry Duet). But this reviewer could not resist complaining about Angela’s gowns and hair-do: she had three gowns: a tacky black gown for the first half of the concert (that was more fitting for getai than a gala), a cerrulein-blue gown for the first part of the second half, and a revealing (and distracting) red gown for the second part of the second half (others might have appreciated the almost see-through lace more; as Bruno would say, “she must produce a lot of milk!”). She highlighted her hair with blue-green colours (terrible) and she certainly needed to re-bond her hair (unless she was planning to sing some mad scenes!)

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