Saturday, 8 April 2017


YEE EE-PING Vocal Recital
with Pauline Lee (Piano)
Esplanade Recital Studio
Thursday (6 April 2017)

This review was published in The Straits Times on 8 April 2017 with the title "Opera singer's daughter almost steals the show".

The London-based soprano Yee Ee-Ping is one of finest opera singers to come out of Singapore. The former Young Artist Award receipient's appearances here have been all 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 way 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 the sung 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 actually composed by one Alessandro Parisotti, an 19th century composer and editor. Yee filled the love song with so much longing and depth of feeling that it did not matter, and 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 daughter 8-year-old Kiara Taylor with so much conviction that she almost stole the show.

Taylor 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 Taylor 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 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 heart-strings.

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.

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