Friday, 6 June 2014

Cecila Yap: Life in opera

Soprano Cecilia Yap will be performing in Kuala Lumpur next week.

On stage, she is the prima donna who delivers enigmatic operatic and classical vocal performances. But in person, soprano Cecilia Yap is affable and chatty, devoid of any airs of an opera singer, and is eager and candid to share about her life and her first love: music.

With a powerful voice, Yap is a natural-born performer. Her strength has always been in singing Italian opera roles of Puccini and Verdi, however in recent years, she has taken a liking in singing art songs of every language.

“Art songs are even more challenging to sing compared to an aria, as they require superb control of breath and voice,” says Yap, who since returning from Italy 14 years ago, had been steadily making a name for herself as a vocal teacher and performer.

From her first local recital with Dama Orchestra If My Verses Had Wings – French and Italian arias and art songs – that drew rave reviews in 2000, Yap has been involved in many operatic productions including acclaimed appearances in the Penang Arts Council’s productions as Micaela in Carmen, Mother in Hansel and Gretel and Liu in Turandot.

“A good vocalist is also recognised by being a good teacher. Although I love performing, I also have a passion to teach and share my knowledge. However, many people think a vocalist should concentrate either on performing or teaching, as it is impossible to do both. But I disagree as I have the capability and passion to do both,” says the youthful-looking mother to a 21-year-old daughter and 19-year-old son.

Hailing from Ipoh, Perak, Yap studied piano at a young age but had not discovered the world of classical vocal until she was 16.

At 20, she left Ipoh and furthered her classical vocal education at the famed Santa Cecilia Conservatoire in Rome, Italy, under renowned sopranos K.S. Ann Saldarelli , Lorraine Nawa Jones Marenzi, and Marcello Ferroni, who is one of the most acclaimed operatic directors in “Arte Scenica”.

She didn’t know a word of Italian at first but worked hard to pick up the language that was used as the medium of instruction. She also immersed herself in the world of opera that Italy has to offer.

She was the winner of the 7th International Vocal Competition at Cascina, Italy in 1994, and she was the only Asian to enter the finals.

Today, Yap has dedicated much of her time to sing in concert tours with Grace Melody Music Ministries (Italy). The group has been presenting sacred music concerts in Europe, the United States and Asia. At the same time, she had also been invited to participate in opera gala, oratorio and recitals, such as singing as soloist at the grand concert hall of Aula Simfonia in Jakarta.

While her singing engagements are predominantly overseas these days, Yap does not neglect her audience back home, as she has been staging a solo recital every two years.

On June 13, she will be presenting her latest solo concert entitled Music Of My Heart. Accompanied by renowned pianist Loo Bang Hean, the pair will offer, in Yap’s words, a “challenging and different” repertoire.

While the first half of the programme consists of Italian arias and art songs by Italian and German composers from Puccini to Mozart, from Bellini to Schubert and Beethoven, in the second half, Yap will attempt a Russian song by Tchaikovsky and some 20th century South American art songs in Spanish and English.

“For all my recitals, I want to introduce music that is different and new each time to my audience,” says Yap, whose last solo recital in Kuala Lumpur two years ago saw her collaborating with well-known Italian pianist Maurizio Colacicchi presenting Sole e Amore, which contained purely Italian music.

Cecelia Yap’s Music Of My Heart will be held at The Gardens Theatre, The Gardens Mall in Kuala Lumpur on June 13. Show starts at 8.30pm. Tickets are priced at RM80. For bookings, call Samuel 016-219 9328/ Ashley 019-278 8497 / Shawn 012-935 3352. Children under six years old will not be admitted.

Tags / Keywords: Entertainment , Cecelia Yap , soprano , concert


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