Concert review: In her first solo recital here, soprano Yee Ee-Ping shows why she is one of the finest

Soprano Yee Ee-Ping showed she was one of the best at her first solo recital here. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE LYRIC OPERA (SLO)
Soprano Yee Ee-Ping showed she was one of the best at her first solo recital here. -- PHOTO: SINGAPORE LYRIC OPERA (SLO)



Yee Ee-Ping, soprano, with Sim Yi Kai, piano

Esplanade Recital Studio/Sunday

For all the major roles soprano Yee Ee-Ping has sung with the Singapore Lyric Opera, including Manon Lescaut, Donna Elvira, Despina, Pamina and Micaela, she has never performed a solo recital here. That is until Sunday evening. Her exquisite selection of art songs was long overdue and showed why she remains one of Singapore's finest sopranos.

Yee, the 2001 Young Artist Award recipient who goes by her stage name Ee-Ping, is now a fully mature artist, for whom all the excuses and excesses of youth no longer apply.

Over the years, she has kept her vocal apparatus well oiled, commanding an astonishing range of nuances and possessing a voluminous heft fully capable of singing a house down. Her acting and communicative skills remain strong points and she connects immediately with her audience.

The moment she strode in with an Amazing Grace one will not hear in any local church, it was a breathtaking foretaste of things to come. Her diction and phrasing were close to perfection in three songs by Roger Quilter, the dreamy and wistful emotions enclosed within coming to the fore.

Even more demanding were four Lieder by Richard Strauss, which expressed the full gamut of love in all its guises. The Wiegenlied (Cradle Song) was caressed with a mother's and lover's tenderness, and O Susser Mai! (Oh Sweet May!) burst forth with unbridled joy.

Nostalgia and longing were the colours of the first two French songs, Duparc's Chanson Triste (Sad Song) and Chausson's Les Temps Des Lilacs (The Time Of Lilacs), while Delibes' Les Filles Des Cadix (The Girls Of Cadiz) was infused with an infectious theatricality that would not have looked out of place in Bizet's Carmen.

Ee-Ping emerged in a glittering gown for the second half, beginning with Gershwin's Summertime (from Porgy And Bess) and the old American hymn Shenandoah, the purity of her delivery was simply touching.

Three Chinese songs, My Homeland, Merry Lady and Mountain Song (Yan Kou Di Shui) reacquainted her with her Mandarin-speaking roots and these were much enjoyed by the older members in the audiences.

Pianist Sim Yi Kai was more than mere accompanist, meticulously partnering the singer through every breath and step. Other than a hatful of missed notes in the Chinese songs, he was alert and sensitive throughout the 90-minute programme.

The recital closed with two contrasting operatic arias.

There are few moments as spine-tingling as Dvorak's Song To The Moon (Rusalka), which Ee-Ping commanded with disarming ease. And then she brought out the coloratura fireworks in Rossini's Una Voce Poco Fa (The Barber Of Seville), an imperious show that was greeted with loud cheers.

Her encore, O Mio Babbino Caro (Puccini's Gianni Schicchi), was no less ecstatically received.

It is hoped that her second vocal recital here will not be a long time in coming.

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