Lea Salonga’s pure voice, pure music

Community News & Features Nov 16, 2009 at 5:29 pm

TORONTO- Music lovers got a special treat when Lea Salonga performed in a solo concert in Toronto for the first time.

Although the Queen Elizabeth Theater seats were not filled to capacity, the good crowd managed to purchase the mainstream-priced tickets for the two-hour long show, never mind if prices ranged from $45 to $100. In fact, some fans did not mind paying $100 for a seat on the first three rows, with some of them tellling this writer they had no regrets shelling out the money for good seats.

For all the good reasons, they said. Lea gave a stellar performance, displaying her beautiful voice, and sharing the full breadth of her professioanl experience through a wide-ranging repertoire. She also charmed her audience by maintaining close rapport with them throughout the night, as could be gleaned from an engaged audience response.

She even asked one lucky gentleman from the audience to join her in the popular Alladin duet.

She sang Broadway classics; Disney hits, screenplay favourites, Tagalog love songs, Michael Jackson and The Beatles’ John Lennon’s signature song, “Imagine.”

Just as interesting to the audience were Lea’s own introductory comments about the songs she had performed. She candidly shared personal stories about how certain songs were meaningful to her life, on one hand; and how her actual life experiences had given a deep resonance to her song’s interpretation.

For instance, she revealed that only when she became a mother had she been able to profoundly emote the Miss Saigon song, “I’d Give My Life for You.”

Lea confided that when she essayed the role of Kim in Miss Saigon, she was then only an 18-year old college-bred girl who did not know anything about love, much less motherhood.

She had the audience laughing with amusement when she revealed she had to turn to her own protective mother’s advice on how to act out romantic affection to her American soldier lover in Miss Saigon. Her conservative mother, Ligaya Salonga, could only prompt Lea to act out such innocent gestures as touching her lover’s face, etc.

Lea sang favourites from the musicals Cats, West Side Story, Les Miserables, Fiddler on the Roof, and others. Aside from her Ålladin songs, she also rendered Mulan favourites, to the delight of children in the audience.

She confessed to a great admiration for the late Michael Jackson, whose death she said she had grieved, as she sobbed her heart out while viewing TV footages of his memorial services. Her affection for the great artist was palpable in the way she had aptly emoted one of Jackson’s most beautiful songs, “Gone Too Soon.”

Lea’s performance of the Les Miserables favorites, Eponine’s”On My Own,” and Fantine’s “I Dreamed a Dream,” were remarkably moving. These were two roles she had played at differeent runs of the famous musical, indicating Lea’s musical acting versatility.

Easily among the evening’s favourites, based on audience response, were Lea’s interpretation of the theme song of her movies with Filipino actor Aga Mulach; one of them, the hauntingly beautiful composition by Gary Valenciano, “Sana Maulit Muli,” and the other, “Bakit Labis Kitang Mahal,” where the audience joined her in song as she pointed the microphone toward their direction, as if on cue.

The audience was in rapt attention as Lea soulfully interpreted two broadway favourites “I’ve Never Been in Love Before,” from Guys and Dolls; and “Memory” from Cats, singing them in a style all her own, with a slight hint of Barbra Streisand’s musical flair.

Even the members of her all-Canadian band, each one of whom she had graciously introduced at the start of her show, looked mesmerized at the sheer power and beauty of Lea’s voice, as they were seen intently listening to her songs and closely observing her performance onstage.

For her great show, Lea received several standing ovations, coming out three times to respond to the audience’s call for encores.

She was just as magnanimous with her person as she was with her music, as she met friends and relatives at the bar for some autographs and brief exchanges; and later when she signed CD’s DVD’s and photos of her, for fans who had patiently formed two lines as they waited for her to come out.

She even posed for media friends with her three-year old daughter, Nicole, and family members at the reception. And she had willingly obliged to have her photo taken with Toronto fans.

LEA Salonga (centre) with daughter Nicole, during the informal reception after her concert.

LEA Salonga (centre) with daughter Nicole, during the informal reception after her concert.

Wishes do come true! Lucky guy Aristotle Domingo was auspiciously chosen from the audience to sing with Lea Salonga during the latter’s concert on Nov. 4 held in Toronto.  They performed “A Whole New World” to the delight of the crowd. Photo: Josie de Leon

Wishes do come true! Lucky guy Aristotle Domingo was auspiciously chosen from the audience to sing with Lea Salonga during the latter’s concert on Nov. 4 held in Toronto. They performed “A Whole New World” to the delight of the crowd. Photo: Josie de Leon

Lea Salonga gladly signs an old photo taken of her at the Philippine Consulate by Reporter’s Mila Garcia.

Lea Salonga gladly signs an old photo taken of her at the Philippine Consulate by Reporter’s Mila Garcia.

Lea Salonga with Bert and Au de Lara of Philippine Heritage Band.

Lea Salonga with Bert and Au de Lara of Philippine Heritage Band.

With adoring fan at after-concert reception.

With adoring fan at after-concert reception.