Zhang Liping (simplified Chinese: 张立萍; traditional Chinese: 張立萍; born 1965) is a Chinese-Canadian soprano, who has sung leading roles in the opera houses of both Europe and North America. She is particularly known for her portrayal of Madama Butterfly.
Zhang Liping was born in Wuhan, Hubei (about 650 miles south-west of Beijing) and is the daughter of a classical musician and a dancer. She entered the Wuhan Conservatoire to study voice. As a young student, she was selected to sing with Plácido Domingo in Tian'anmen Square. She then moved to Vancouver to study with Canadian mezzo-soprano Phyllis Mailing at the Vancouver Academy of Music. She later joined Vancouver Opera's Young Artist Program and sang throughout Canada in roles such as Mimi (La bohème), Leila (Les pêcheurs de perles), Liu (Turandot), Marguerite (Faust) and Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor). In 1997, she moved to London.
In 2002, Zhang debuted as Liu (in Turandot) at Covent Garden.
Geoff Brown wrote in The Times:
With Li Ping Zhang's lovelorn Liu, though, sweet drama and music came rolled into one. Her part's vocal perils left her unscathed; each word struck home in the heart in a way no one else's ever did.
Malcolm Hayes, writing in the Sunday Telegraph, remarked that: 'The biggest round of applause went to the Liu of Zhang Liping, whose sumptuous soprano had us hanging on her every note'
Writing in The Times, David Cairns remarked that:
Above all, Liping Zhang gave us a heroine of exceptional eloquence and intensity, no drooping lily but a vital, suffering, deeply touching creature whose élans and agonies raised the work momentarily to a higher plane.
David Fingleton, writing in the British newspaper, the Sunday Express, commented:
This soprano, in her early 30s, clearly has great insight and intelligence as well as good looks, and her clearly-drawn, thoughtful performance held the audience in the palm of her hand. When she sang the great aria One Fine Day in Act Two, where the abandoned Butterfly expresses her confidence in her husband's return, you could see the tears being shed. Her performance was a tour-de-force.
The Detroit News wrote:
In soprano Zhang Liping, the Michigan Opera Theatre production that opened Saturday night at the Detroit Opera House boasts a Butterfly who does more than carry the show; she represents the world standard. This is a singer, indeed a theatrical experience, not to be missed
Hugh Canning wrote in Opera Magazine that:
I was delighted to encounter her lovely, stylishly sung Mimi here: ... her subtle and idiomatic use of portemento, but this was no carbon copy and she had plenty of vocal swell for 'Il Primo bacio del aprile e mio' from her Act 1 narration and emotional depth in her Act 3 farewell
Liping Zhang's debut disc was released by EMI Classics. The recording features arias by Verdi, Puccini, Bellini, and Donizetti.
Notes and references
- Varty (November 18, 2004)
- *Ng (October 1, 2008)
- Los Angeles Opera, Artist biography: Liping Zhang
- Ng, David, A thoroughly cosmopolitan 'Butterfly': Personable Liping Zhang is nothing like the submissive heroine she often portrays, Los Angeles Times, October 1, 2008
- Varty, Alexander, Frequent Flier; Opera Singer Liping Zhang Recalls The Highs And Lows Of Her Trademark Role As Madama Butterfly, The Georgia Straight, November 18, 2004