Interview: Aileen Tang speaks to Martin Ng, baritone, about ‘The Italian Baritone’

Italy-trained Singaporean martin_ng_2016_posterbaritone Martin Ng – last seen in the title role of Wagner’s The Flying Dutchman – presents a programme of excerpts from classic Romantic Italian operas at the SOTA Concert Hall, School of the Arts, on Sat 17 Dec, 7.30pm, with Germany-based soprano, Li Jie, and pianist Boris Kraljevic.

Aileen Tang spoke to Martin to learn more.

Is there any piece on the programme which holds special significance for you?

The aria Cortigiani vil razza dannata from Act II of Verdi’s Rigoletto was one of the earliest pieces I studied during my transition to the baritone repertoire, so it holds a special place in my heart. Right from my early teenage days when I first listened to Tito Gobbi ‘s rendition, with all the vocal shadings of anger, sadness, despair and resignation…I told myself that this was THE aria I wanted to sing!

Which of these arias do you consider the most challenging?

That would have to be the Pura siccome un Angelo duet from Verdi’s La Traviata. It is technically demanding as it lies high in the voice and requires faultless phrasing and legato typical of the Italian bel canto (“beautiful singing”) tradition.

How has it been working with soprano Li Jie and pianist Boris Kraljevic?

Boris is always so intense on stage and the colours he infuses in the piano parts already puts you into character to interpret the piece. He is also very attentive to the singer’s breathing and follows you very well. It cannot be any more pleasurable to work with a pianist like him! Li Jie’s timbre is lovely and ideal for roles like Gilda (Rigoletto) and Violetta (Traviata), which is why she was an ideal choice for a programme so heavy on Verdi!

Most Singaporean audiences would know you from your leading role in The Flying Dutchman presented by the Richard Wagner Association in October this year. What was your biggest take-away from that?

Learning to sing convincingly in a different style and language away from my comfort zone. It was my second title role but the first of such intensity and length. Singing a full production of the Dutchman has taught me to pace myself to sound fresh and last right to the end of the opera.

What can audiences who are new to this genre expect from your concert? How about for the connoisseur?

For newcomers to the genre, it is the lovely tunes and the powerful emotions of love, jealousy, fear, anger, pride – all typical of Italian melodrama! For the connoisseur, it is a programme packed with middle period Verdi and the golden age of Italian romantic opera. It is a programme of mammoth proportions with excerpts from all 3 operas of the Verdian trilogy: Rigoletto, La Traviata and Il Trovatore

Describe in three words what we can look forward to on the evening of 17 Dec?

Drama in Song 😉

Tickets for The Italian Baritone, produced by Steven Ang of The Mad Scene, are available at: (Online) (Offline purchases)
$40 (standard) with a special price of $36 for students and NSFs.

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