Liverpool’s strong cultural links with China were underlined by last year’s unforgettable performances by the Chinese National Opera company at the Echo Arena. Now they’ve been demonstrated again by the triumphant British debut of one of world opera’s rising stars, the Chinese baritone Yunpeng Wang, at St George’s Hall.
Wang trained in Beijing and is now a singer with New York’s Metropolitan Opera House. In the magnificent setting of the St George’s Hall Concert Room he wowed the audience with a selection of celebrated and lesser known pieces, including songs from Verdi’s La Traviata, Mozart’s The Marriage Of Figaro and Rossini’s The Barber Of Seville. Wang has a rich, expressive voice – the power of which belies his relatively slight physical frame – capable of conveying sorrow, tenderness, anger and delight with equal aplomb. His performance was a visual as well as an aural pleasure, his vocal prowess accompanied by excellent acting skills as he strode across the stage, raised his arms in supplication or cast mischievous, knowing looks at the audience. At one point he even left the stage and sang to us from the body of the hall. Everyone knew they were in the presence of a true master of his craft.
Wang was ably supported by local pianist Kirsty Ligertwood and Hungarian soprano Ingrid Kertesi, an experienced and highly accomplished singer whose purity of tone was well suited to such pieces as Ave Maria, her opening song. She also clearly enjoyed as much as the audience her delightful duets with Wang.
The performers received a deserved standing ovation and were presented with gifts by representatives of the local Chinese community. For his encore Wang appropriately chose a beautiful, haunting Chinese piece. He clearly has a great future in opera and his appearance in Liverpool was a real coup for St George’s Hall.
This was the second in Liverpool Opera’s ‘Four Seasons’ series of concerts at St George’s Hall. The third concert will feature Stefan Pop.