Friday, 22/04/2011 09:43

Opera stars launch Hennessy concert

Sing it loud: Opera artists Hao Jiang Tian (left), Norah Amsellem, and Fernado de la Mora will perform at the Ha Noi Opera House tonight. — File Photo

Sing it loud: Opera artists Hao Jiang Tian (left), Norah Amsellem, and Fernado de la Mora will perform at the Ha Noi Opera House tonight. — File Photo

HA NOI — International opera stars Norah Amsellem, Fernado de la Mora, Hao Jiang Tian will kick off the 15th annual Hennessy Concert Series tonight at the Ha Noi Opera House, accompanied by pianist Katherine Chu.

The concert would pay homage to the Italian operatic tradition and celebrate French grand opera, said Chu, the artistic advisor of the Hennessy Concert Series. The artists will perform pieces from such operas as The Barber of Seville, Macbeth, and Faust.

Hao, a native of Beijing, will open the show with pieces from The Barber of Seville and Faust. Highlights of his recent seasons include the role of Turandot at the Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing, in a new production directed by Zhang Yimou. Hao has earned worldwide recognition as one of the world's most talented operatic basses and has been highly praised for his appearances in many international theatres, including the Metropolitan Opera. He was nominated for a Grammy Award in 2008 as a principal soloist in the Best Opera Recording of The First Emperor.

This will be Hao's first visit to Viet Nam, although he says it feels familiar. At age 16, he says, he worked in a factory in China where he met a Vietnamese engineer who taught him to play guitar.

"I never thought about becoming an opera singer," Hao said at a press briefing in Ha Noi on Wednesday. "I want to thank him for the guitar lessons which inspired me about music."

In tonight's concert, Amsellem and Mora will perform a duet from the French opera Manon. Amsellem has performed opposite such distinguished tenors as Placido Domingo, Roberto Alagna, and Rolando Villazon in such operas as La Boheme, Carmen, Romeo and Juliette, and Mariage of Figaro with well-known orchestras on the stages of the most prestigious theatres, including London's Royal Opera, the Vienna State Opera, and the Berlin State Opera.

Amsellem first performed the role of Manon when she was 22 years ago and has performed it in many theatres around the world.

"Each time I perform Manon I have been inspired by different tenors," she said.

After only three days in Viet Nam, she will return to perform the role in Vienna. Her partner in tonight's performance will be Mexican tenor Mora. With over 20 recordings under his belt, he has worked with world-renowned conductors such as Zubin Mehta, Riccardo Muti, and Sir Charles Mackerras. His acclaimed performances include Romeo and Juliet, Manon, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, and Macbeth.

"This is an interesting chance for me to perform with my colleague Tian again as well as to understand more about Norah, one of the most talented sopranos," Mora said.

Tonight's performances will be accompanied by Chu, whose association with the Hennessy Concerts began in 1999. She became the artistic advisor of the Hennessy Concert Series in 2002.

The series has been held in Viet Nam since 1996. Tonight's performance, beginning at 8pm, will be simulcast on a giant video screen on the plaza outside the Ha Noi Opera House. The concert will then by aired nationally on VTV3, in a delayed broadcast. — VNS

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