I attended the recital of soprano Michiko Masuyama (增山 美知子) last Friday, a free event for the“2006 Australia-Japan Year of Exchange”.
I hadn’t previously heard of Masuyama. On the Japanese Consulate General’s web site, a brief introduction of Masuyama is posted as follows:
“Michiko Masuyama has studied opera and vocal music at Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music and has studied under Ettore Campogalliani in Milan as well as Gerhard Husch, Weisen Born and others. She has won the Ataka Award twice as well as various Art and Cultural awards. Masuyama has performed at many recitals in Japan and abroad including the US, Austria, Finland, Sweden, Italy, France and Poland to name but a few and has been prolific in publishing four books as well as releasing 5 CD albums.”
The recital took place in the elegant St Michael's Uniting Church in the Melbourne City centre. The program started with about 12 Japanese songs followed by a few more well-known pieces by European composers.
Masuyama seemed to be going OK during the Japanese part of the performance. Although I suspected that she sang flat on a few occasions, I wasn’t completely sure as I didn’t know the songs. When it came to “ O mio babino caro” (Oh, my beloved father – [i] Gianni Schicchi[/i] - Puccini), one of my operatic favourites, her defects became more obvious. First of all, she seemed to have avoided all the high A flats which are the key feature of this aria. Secondly, she sang flat on 3 consecutive notes. When that happened, I could see an old lady in front of me turned her head to her companions. A reluctant round of applause only arose 2 seconds after the piece was finished.
Towards the end of the performance, Masuyama won her popularity back with the Australian folk song “Waltzing Matilda”.
I found the songs performed during the encore part were two of her better ones. They sounded a lot more mellow and smooth while some of her earlier pieces appeared to be a bit inconsistent. Perhaps she was able to relax down after the main part of the performance was over.
Overall I was a bit disappointed with the performance given her impressive background. Perhaps she was just in bad shape on that day. To be fair, I should acknowledge that the pianist really did a great job, though. Regardless, it was still a graceful and civilised way to end a week.
Photo: 好美的St Michael's Uniting Church，這張照片是從大堂二樓拍的（不是我拍的啦），圍欄是用維多利亞式的iron lace，非常優雅。