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David Denton
David's Review Corner, April 2017

A historic reissue of a recording made in 1978 by the highly gifted young soprano, Ella Kiang, coupling popular operatic arias from her stage performance repertoire. Originally trained in Hong Kong, she moved to Italy to complete her studies, and remained there for some time afterwards before embarking on an international career. She was a spinto soprano who must have made a tragic little character in Madama Butterfly, her voice tailored to that rather childish quality that was hugely fashionable in provincial Italy at the time. I could equally visualise her as a pretty Mimi in La Boheme, or the faithful Liu in Turandot which sits perfectly in her vocal range, though she was less successful as the vibrant flirt in Musetta’s Waltz Song from La Boheme. How she was visually on stage in dramatic roles is less documented, the aria from Ponchielli’s La Gioconda totally unsuited to her voice. Throughout, the Japanese orchestra is a well-schooled ensemble under the guidance of Tadashi Mori, a highly experienced conductor who enjoyed an Indian summer in charge of the Tokyo Metropolitan Symphony and NHK Symphony. He here adds a very well shaped La Traviata prelude and an urgent view of the Cavalliera Rusticana intermezzo devoid of the usual sentimentality. I am sure many in Hong Kong will remember Kiang with considerable affection, and though the sound quality belongs to the 1970’s, I have returned to her Mimi extract several times wondering why she was never asked to record the complete opera. © 2017 David’s Review Corner





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