MELBOURNE, Australia— “A wonderful, natural instrument. You know there are singers and then there are singers, but that was pure singing,” said Charles de Long, a tenor, after hearing soprano, Yuan Ling, sing “A Choice Once More” and soprano, Min Jiang, sing “The Message You’ve Awaited” at the Shen Yun Performing Arts performance at State Theatre, Arts Centre Melbourne on the evening of Feb. 21.
“She’s a natural, god-given voice, and she must be very proud and thankful for that,” he said. “Un-grande spectacular! A beautiful show!”
Mr. de Long was a household name during the 1970s, performing in South Africa and throughout Europe. He was the principal singer for “Eoan Group Opera Company” and has performed in such operas as “Pagliacci,” “Cavalleria Rusticana,” “La Boheme,” and “Il Trovatore.”
This was the second time Mr. de Long has seen Shen Yun and the first time he was amazed that the soloists were able to sing bel canto style in Chinese text, the speciality of the Shen Yun singers.
“The singer must, while continuing to meet the challenges inherent in bel canto technique, retain proper Chinese pronunciation and diction. Today, these singers’ ability to do this is unparalleled,” the Shen Yun website states.
He said he can sing in English, French, German, Italian, and Africans, but singing in Chinese is the most difficult and most people are unable to master it. He was so inspired listening to them last time that he has tried to learn it, but had not mastered it. He said he was in the process and it was very unique and challenging.
For those unable to understand Chinese, the words are displayed in English on the backdrop. Mr. de Long said he read the subtitles but could understand what they were expressing through their voices, their bodies, and their expressions.
“I really enjoyed, … I saw all the subtitles on the screen and then you can take direction from that, and the interpretation that she conveyed to us, fantastic!” he said.
According to the website “the song texts the singers perform are original works written for these pieces. Brimming with philosophical reflection about human life and containing deep layers of meaning, the texts go beyond the boundaries of nation, race, and culture, and have been fondly received and appreciated the world over. Some audience members even express that Shen Yun’s vocal pieces are reminiscent of sacred music.”
New York based Shen Yun is based on classical Chinese dance but also incorporates solo singing and instrumental performances and is accompanied by a blended orchestra of traditional Chinese and classical Western instruments.
‘The Erhu Excels’
The solo erhu performance by Linda Wang touched Mr. de Long’s heart.
“I’ve got so much respect for this small little instrument and the sound that it can make. It’s amazing! It’s a wonderful!”
The website states, “The erhu is incredibly expressive, capable of imitating sounds from chirping birds to neighing horses. An alto instrument with a middle-high musical range, its melodies can be tender or sonorous. In its lowest and middle range, the erhu is especially stirring and somber, a quality eminently suitable for conveying the grand pageant of China’s history and the emotions of its people. “
Mr. de Long said you know you’ve got this orchestration going with lots of instruments, many large and powerful, “but the erhu excels above that … so small, but so prominent.”
“It’s amazing the legato, the sound from the one note into the other.”
The orchestra added to Mr. de Long enjoyment of the performance, as well.
“Oh man! The combination!” he said, noting some Chinese instruments used.
“Fantastic! I marvel at the way they combine and the way the instruments of yesteryear, ancient instruments, were integrated with the modern instruments,” he said.
“It’s a beautiful sound. I mean singing, music, is all about sound, and the sound that they made tonight, it’s got to be commended. It was fantastic! I really enjoyed it!”
He said he would recommend to everyone to see Shen Yun. “You don’t know what you’re missing if you don’t come and see the show.”
‘The choreography was marvelous’
The classical Chinese dancing for Mr. de Long was beyond perfection.
“The choreography was marvelous. The person who was responsible for the choreography should be highly recommended. And I think it’s a fantastic show,” he said.
“I think it was spectacular … Everything’s in perspective, you look at one dancer and you try to differentiate between them and you see all of them look the same and it’s amazing how well the choreography was done.”
He was fascinated with the choreography and skill of the dancers and how there could be so many dancers on stage working together as one, all separate but all connected.
“I watched the feet, I watched the legs, I watched the movements. It’s amazing!” he said.
“They must have spent tremendous amount of time to get the show to the perfection that I’ve seen because even when they did the dancing, with the scarves and the movements that they made, surely you had to have a certain amount of time or space between one another, but everything was done to the tee. It must have taken a lot and a lot of practice.”
As an opera singer, Mr. de Long has performed in many productions and he recalled the difficulty and clumsiness of using props, he said.
And, although personally he was reluctant to use technology, he was delighted with the state-of-the-art digitally animated backdrop in Shen Yun. It transported him to other places, other realms.
“The technology is fantastic,” he said. “Look how marvelous it is now … it’s like you are right there in the area of whatever scene takes place. Look at them coming from the big screen and onto the screen. Marvelous!”
Summing up the whole Shen Yun experience Mr. de Long said he was immersed in the divine beauty from start to finish. It was beyond words and something one had to experience for themselves.
“The music is so tranquil, and the dancers, and the acts, just grab you,” he said. “It’s something you can’t describe because it’s something you must feel. And they create that feeling within you; I felt it,” he said.
“There was one stage where the orchestra played and the dancing, and I said to myself ‘oh that’s beyond me!’ Because it’s something you must feel, it’s indescribable!
“Sometimes you experience something and you say to yourself ‘I know I’ve been on stage, I know what you must feel like.’ But this is not acting, this grabs you hook, line, and sinker. Fantastic, I really enjoyed the show.”
Reporting by NTD Television and Leigh Smith
New York-based Shen Yun Performing Arts has four touring companies that perform simultaneously around the world. For more information, visit Shen Yun Performing Arts.
Epoch Times considers Shen Yun Performing Arts the significant cultural event of our time. We have proudly covered audience reactions since Shen Yun’s inception in 2006.