Italian Evening At Sole e Amore Concert

September 12, 2012

Cecilia Yap: “Talking too much hurts the voice.”

Malaysian soprano Cecilia Yap makes two concessions to keep her voice in top shape—the first is to “keep quiet” and the second to forgo eating chillies before a concert.

Both are presumably difficult for her to do, being firstly, a naturally chatty person and, secondly, a chilli lover.

“To me, chilli is a natural food for warming up the voice,” said the award-winning singer. “I love eating chilli but before singing I try not to eat it because it will irritate the throat.”

In addition to this small dietary sacrifice, Yap finds that a good way to protect the voice is to talk less. “Talking uses the lower voice registers and tires the voice. It hurts the voice more (than singing). When our vocal cords are tired we can get back their freshness by singing correctly,” she said.

Yap will join forces with world-renowned Italian pianist Maurizio Colacicchi to intrigue Malaysian audiences with an “authentic Italian experience” at their Sole e Amore concert on 22 September at the KL and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur.

The pair will pay tribute to the forefathers of Bel canto—Vivaldi, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi—and showcase repertory from the late romantic period also known as the Age of Verismo with works by Puccini, Cilea and Catalani. They also hope to delight audiences with the much-beloved art songs of Paolo Tosti.

Maurizio Colacicchi: “Italians have a long tradition of vocal music.”

Yap and Colacicchi first collaborated four years ago in Kuala Lumpur. “Cecilia was a close friend of the famous, late Malaysian tenor Armando Chin Young, who was previously my student in Italy,” said Colacicchi. “She’d invited me to conduct a masterclass in Kuala Lumpur, where I heard and coached her beautiful voice as well those of the many fantastic Malaysian singers who took part.”

According to Colacicchi, there are no significant vocal differences between European and Asian singers. “A person with a beautiful voice has a beautiful voice. It is the respective cultures that are so different.

“In Asia, the students are highly committed to and serious about their studies. They have the desire and drive to reach a very high technical level. In Europe, the students are naturally predisposed to singing and are fortunate to grow up surrounded by the culture from which opera music originates.

“Italians, in particular, have a long tradition of vocal music, from the Baroque through to the Romantic and then the Verismo periods. Bel canto, for example, is Italian. It is made in Italy,” Colacicchi said.

Yap couldn’t agree more with her accompanist. “There are some songs that must be played by an Italian because they are linked to the text, to the poems,” she said. “Both the singer and the accompanist must connect not just with the music but also with the text.

“Some songs really require an understanding of the text.”

“Some songs really require an understanding of the text, otherwise one cannot paint the colours properly,” she added.

An example is Luigi Denza’s Se. “It is so recitative, so declamatory. In the first half, it is like speaking. The second half is full of emotion. If the pianist cannot understand the text, you cannot bring out the mood,” explained Yap.

Another example is Paolo Tosti’s pieces. “They are so intuitive, the flow of the songs must be so natural. It’s not easy to play Tosti. If you just go by the beat, it will kill the singer,” declared Yap, who feels that they need to be played by an Italian because “it’s in their culture.”

She feels that Colacicchi is, therefore, the perfect accompanist for her. “I feel that I want to do this concert with him. He knows my voice well and is an experienced pianist who has played with world-renowned opera singers,” said Yap.

Colacicchi, whose passion for music was ignited when he saw the film version of Aida at seven years, has played with such opera greats as Ghena Dimitrova, Piero Cappuccilli, Maria Chiara, Mariella Devia and Giuseppe Giacomini.

Audiences at the concert, sponsored by the Italian Embassy and the Italian Malaysian Business Association (IMBA), will be able to read the translated text in English on a big screen.



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