Is this Peng Mun’s farewell performance?
It needs great effort for a male to sing in an artificial female voice in a 3-hour long opera. To be honest, I think his voice now has lost the feminine qualities of a ‘hua dan’ – unlike about 10 years ago when he performed with Aw Kai Meng an excerpt from the same opera. I have been watching his performances all along so I got used to the gradual changes. But someone who has not seen him for quite sometime or someone who was seeing him for the first time would find his voice queer. His excellent opera skills could only partly compensate for this. It was a good thing that in this opera there is no second ‘hua dan’ besides the empress who just sang a few lines.
So I think it is good for him to ‘retire’ earlier, at least from full-length operas and leave his fans with fond memories. I wonder if he would consider performing the male role instead. Perhaps, having performed as a ‘nan hua dan’ (female impersonator) for such a long time, the mannerisms of the hua dan are so entrenched in him that he finds it difficult to change roles.
On the whole it was a good show. Chan Fook Hong and Christopher Choo put up great performances. But I think there is no need for so many monks in the last scene. Rather than enhancing the scene, they caused distraction and confusion.
Just my non-professional sincere views; hope Peng Mun's supporters won' t get offended.
My write-up on Aw Yeong Peng Mun: