Singapore Lyric Opera
PUCCINI MANON LESCAUT
31 August, 1 September, 3 - 4 September 2012
Manon - Ee Ping
Lescaut - Andrew Fernando
Chevalier des Grieux - Lee Jae Wook
Geronte - William Lim
Edmondo - Melvin Tan
Inn Keeper & Naval Captain - Martin Ng
Dancing Master & Lamplighter - Lemuel dela Cruz
The Singapore Lyric Opera Chorus
The Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra
On the whole, the performance was a succes in terms of music making and the singing. The orchestra's playing was moving and the appropriate Puccini passions played out. My general complaint is that the balance between the orchestra and the singers were not good at least half the time. In a number of areas, the supposedly mood music overpowers the singers and it sounded much like the orchestra was playing solo and the singers were supporting it. This happened much too often duirng the evening and I found myself saying, 'the orchestra is too loud', a few times.
The singers were all good, not a weak link. Manon had a delicious creamy voice throughout that shows easy stamina. I do suspect she had difficult high Cs becasue they were all sung short. Nonetheless, this doesn't take away from the generous vocal delivery otherwise. Ee Ping's voice, although strong and creamy thick, wasn't consistent in it projection in the Esplanade theatre. She came across strong and beautiful at most but there were a significant number of moments it doesn't across the hall and she blended into the background. E strano! Her portrayal of Manon is believeable. However, I noticed she does 'happy' then 'sad'. In Act 2, during her moments of panic and sadness, she stiffened her arms at her side rather than take them to her face for a stronger 'gestural' visual of her anguish. 'In quelle trine morbide' was well sung but it lack the dramatic impetus because I felt she didn't ride on the crescendos in the ascending notes in both climaxes. That being said, she did a marvellous job in Act 4. Her dying scene was great. This was one situation where she sang 'piano' and the voice carried across the hall like a beam of light! E strano!
Des Grieux was a vocal powerhouse throughout, giving a generous outpouring of lyricism rather than the dramatic 'shouting' one might get in this role. Puccini is not kind to tenors but this held no fears for Lee who gave all the moments required in the vocal line. I found in Lee, also a better portrayal of 'happy' than other emotions. Alright, 'angry' was also good but 'panic' not so, and that was evident in Act 2.
The set had a stage wide bridge that added to the interesting chorus' movements on stage. The chorus was very lively and there were much realism acting goings-on that made the scenes interesting. Dressed in contemporary costumes, they were playing out their individual lives here and there. You could see a guy or two running after their girlfriends to woo them and then another dude gathering their newly arrived guests to the card tables.
A dialogue with blogger Steven Ang and myself after we watched the performance is published at http://the-mad-scene.blogspot.sg/2012/09/slo-manon-lescaut-review-31-aug-2012.html