Duc Tuan “attacks” semi-classic music

Published: 17/04/2009 05:00



Visiting the website of famous British conductor Paul Bateman, his working schedule for August is “Concert in Vietnam”. He has been invited to Vietnam by singer Duc Tuan, who recently went to Canada the second time for a semi-classic music project.

How is this trip important to you compared to your trip two years ago? And how is it significant for your “Music of Night” album?

They are all important. The first occasion, for the first time an opera expert instructed me in basic techniques from singing to performance. I applied that valuable experience in my shows. This time, I carefully practiced each song on the album with another expert. He was whole-hearted, followed me to every recording session and instructed me from singing techniques to how to accurately pronounce English and French.

Is it true that because you plan to sing songs in famous operas you have to study foreign languages?

I learn foreign languages to meet necessary standards, not try to force myself to pronounce exactly like English and American singers.

Famous opera singers in the world come from many countries and they sing English songs with Italian or Spanish accents and they are still attractive.

I will not lose my characteristics to be praised “singing English in standard”. I studied English methodologically so I know what is standard.

Who is your instructor? Why did you choose Canada, not the UK, France or the US, powerful countries of opera?

He is Marcin Brzezinski, a reputed vocal professor in Quebec and Canada. He invented the famous DVI formula, which combines new vocal techniques and traditional skills.

He is also known for helping singers to deal with problems in their larynx. Many opera artists from Broadway also learnt from him.

So I chose him. Canada is also a powerful country of opera. Many great operas are performed in Canada before Broadway (US) or West End (UK), the two musical centres of the world.

It is said that you paid $20,000 for “Music of Night” album, is it true?

Yes, to have a product meeting international standards and that can be distributed outside of the Vietnamese border.

You will give a live opera show in August 2009. Do you think that singing opera is less competitive and not so uninspired like other genres of music, because they are immortal songs?

The question is the answer.

Is it because opera requires foreign experts that you invited conductor Paul Bateman to join your live show?

This live show is very important to me. I want to do my best. I don’t accept the thinking “It is sufficient in Vietnam”. It is lucky that Mr. Paul Bateman enthusiastically agreed. He is a famous conductor and he has mixed many excellent semi-classic albums, the musical genre that I’m pursuing.

You plan to use the Symphony Orchestra of the HCM City Opera and Ballet Theatre, with around 60 instrumentalists. How much will you have to pay for the show?

I’m negotiating with some sponsors. Some have promised to fund my show. But with or without sponsors, the live show will take place on the planned scale.

Duc Tuan and the first opera album in Vietnam

The singer paid $300 in royalties for each of the eleven tracks on his album “Music of Night”. The expenditures for this album, which was recorded in Canada, are around $20,000.

In this situation, it seems that Duc Tuan has invested in a project from which he is unlikely to regain capital. So why did he invest in this album? Tuan said: “It is because of my great passion for opera”.

During his visit to the US in 2003, Tuan saw opera on Broadway and he was charmed by opera songs. It was not until late 2006 that he was able to afford to produce an opera album. A Vietnamese-Canadian musician, Ignace Lai, helped record the album in Canada.

Previously, Tuan offered this project to some recording firms in Vietnam but they refused because the project was unfeasible for regaining investment and the production time required was too long. Tuan said that the album was recorded in three weeks but he went to Canada several times to attend vocal courses.

Besides extracts from operas which are quite strange to Vietnamese listeners, there are some popular ones, such as Phantom of the Opera (duet with Genevieve Charest), This is the Moment and Memory. There are only two tracks that Tuan sings in French, Le temps des cathedrales and Libères-moi. “I don’t speak French as fluently as English but it is no problem in singing,” he said. When he was a high-school boy, Tuan won third place in the national English contest.

Tuan said he produced “Music of the Night” not only for Vietnamese but also foreign audiences in Vietnam. The first 5,000 CDs may not sell out immediately but the vitality of this album will remain because of the “immortality of the above songs”. Tuan revealed that he will organise a show to introduce the album to around 200 spectators in June 2009.

Asking him whether it is a problem that the young seem to be indifferent to opera, Tuan said: “Love is not a gift for adults only. This is an album of love that every one can find themselves in.”

Tuan said he will pursue opera to the bitter end and he is about to attend an Italian language course. “I want to sing Italian opera extracts in a pop style to be appropriate to today’s atmosphere.” Nhacvietplus


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