TORONTO—When opera singer Carole Borsu felt a shiver upon hearing soprano Geng Haolan at the Shen Yun Performing Arts show at Canon Theatre on Friday night, she knew she was witnessing something truly exceptional.
“Whenever I sort of shiver or feel something tingle, there is definitely something that resonates with me and I could feel that in her voice. And it wasn’t just the power, because her voice kind of rang, her voice felt like it was outside her body, so there was something about it that was very special. And you could also tell by how the audience reacted—they seemed to really enjoy her,” she said.
Ms. Borsu, a trained opera singer and performer, is a dramatic coloratura, one of the rarest of voice categories. She is also a voice-over actor.
Besides Ms. Geng’s singing, Ms. Borsu said she particularly enjoyed the folk dance from northern China called Handkerchiefs, as well as Wu Song Battles the Tiger, a story-based dance in which the hero slays a man-eating tiger after fortifying himself with liquor at the local inn.
“I thought that was so comical and charming and sweet,” she said.
The colourful costumes also impressed her.
“The costumes were gorgeous; they looked really expensive,” she said. “You just see these beautiful flowing silk gowns and things that they were wearing—they were just so beautiful, especially those long sleeves, the way they flow. I love that, it is such an effect when you see it, it is very beautiful and light and airy.”
Ms. Borsu said she was moved to tears during Nothing Can Block the Divine Path, a piece in which a mother and daughter are attacked by police for practising Falun Dafa exercises in a park. Falun Dafa is a spiritual discipline rooted in traditional Chinese culture that was outlawed by the Chinese regime in 1999.
“[The show] was quite remarkable. It certainly went through different themes,” she said.
“Some of it made me laugh, some of it made you feel more intense and more emotional, and some of it made you think. That’s what was good about it—there really was a variety of things you could experience with that, whether it’s the aesthetic, or something emotional, or maybe even intellectual.”
New York-based Shen Yun will perform three more shows at Canon Theatre: two on Saturday at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and a matinee on Sunday at 2 p.m. For more information, please visit www.shenyunperformingarts.org.