Opera singer's daughter almost steals the show

London-based Singaporean soprano Yee Ee-Ping returns to the Esplanade for Dreams, Passion and Love.
London-based Singaporean soprano Yee Ee-Ping returns to the Esplanade for Dreams, Passion and Love. PHOTO: ESPLANADE.COM




Esplanade Recital Studio/ Thursday

The London-based soprano Yee Ee-Ping is one of the finest opera singers to come out of Singapore.

The former Young Artist Award recipient's appearances here have been too few. Yet, who could forget her unforgettable portrayal of Puccini's Manon Lescaut with the Singapore Lyric Opera in 2012 or her debut as Micaela in Bizet's Carmen back in 1998?

It has been three years since her last recital here, so this evening's offering was well attended despite the scant publicity. There was hardly any opera. Instead she sang art songs grouped according to language.

Italian came first, with Pergolesi's Se Tu M'Ami (If You Love Me), which sounded too Romantic to be actually baroque. The work was composed by one Alessandro Parisotti, a 19th-century composer and editor.

Yee filled the love song with so much longing and depth of feeling that it did not matter. She did the same for Tosti's Ideale and de Curtis' well-known Neapolitan song Torna A Surriento (Come Back To Sorrento).

German lieder was next, with best-known numbers by Schubert (An Die Musik), Schumann (Widmung) and Richard Strauss (Morgen!) characterised by clear diction, enunciation and perfect intonation.

In the Strauss, the beautiful violin obbligato part which opened was played by her eight-year-old daughter Kiara Taylor. The girl performed with so much conviction that she almost stole the show.

Kiara had two other solos, performing Elgar's Salut D'Amour and Monti's Csardas with some self-consciousness while accompanied by pianist Pauline Lee. The audience was in titters as Kiara had to shyly hand her instrument to Lee to have it tuned, but rewarded her pluck with hearty applause.

Yee's French group of melodies included Chausson and Poulenc, the latter who could never write a poor tune. In C and Les Chemins D'Amour (The Paths Of Love) by Poulenc, wistfulness and nostalgia were lovingly captured. Yee was totally at home with mother- tongue Chinese, in Yanzi (Swallow Dear) and Hong Dou Chi (Red Bean Lament) from Dream Of The Red Chamber, the tragic qualities coming through with much vividness.

Perhaps the trickiest songs for her to pull off were the ones sung in English. One could barely catch the words to Samuel Barber's St. Ita's Vision, Nocturne and O Boundless, Boundless Evening, but their darkly hued Romantic sensibilities were nonetheless assiduously honed to hit ecstatic highs and pluck at heartstrings.

Yee reserved some of the most breathtaking moments for her last two songs, both by Franz Lehar. It was scarcely believable to witness the degree of breath control she displayed in the Vilja-Lied from The Merry Widow, the sort which could make or break a performance.

Then she became all amorous, flirting with gentlemen and tossing flowers into the audience while singing Meine Lippen Sie Kussen So Heiss from Giuditta.

After the loud applause had settled, her favourite encore, Puccini's O Mio Babbino Caro from Gianni Schicchi, reminded us again what a fine opera singer she is.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 08, 2017, with the headline 'Opera singer's daughter almost steals the show'. Print Edition | Subscribe