Tempo in the Soprano Arias of Puccini's La Bohème, Tosca, and Madama Butterfly
"Over the past several decades, musicians have placed new emphasis upon historically accurate interpretations, not only of early music, but also of works that have remained in the repertory. Zhong's careful research provides an excellent resource for the reexamination of the performance practices for these Puccini arias."
-- Journal of Singing (2004)
"The work is enormous in scope … nothing less than the first-ever attempt to reinterpret Puccini's operas from the perspective of source and performance-practice research…. Mei Zhong makes her start at the heart of Puccini's operas, the arias for the soprano heroines of his most famous masterpieces. The results of research and insightful interpretation open a surprisingly new vista on what we all thought were thoroughly familiar works. This is not just for singers. Everyone who loves these operas will find Mei Zhong's discussion fascinating and revealing."
-- John Walter Hill
"The major contribution of this work lies in the tight analysis it gives of certain Puccini arias and the differing interpretation of various singers, especially, but not exclusively, with regard to tempo. I particularly enjoyed the suggestions the author herself made concerning performance. This takes considerable bravery, which, however, seems justified by her impressive scholarship. Performers might do well to take these recommendations to heart. In pointing the way for such an in-depth examination of various arias, Ms. Zhong has performed a valuable service. An age of operatic deconstructionism needs frequent reminders that not everything is, or should be, up for grabs. Of particular value for the historian, musicologist, and opera lover are the comments made on how opera interpretation has changed over the years, with the greatest liberties taken, interestingly enough, in the years closest to the composer's life."
--W. Laird Kleine-Ahlbrandt
Anthology of Chinese Songs, Volume II: Traditional and Modern Chinese Art Songs
(ISBN: 1-878617-77-X) and its companion recording are available via http://www.leyerlepublications.com/ or from quality music or book stores in the United States.
"The quality of the recording is excellent, and Mei Zhong's singing is beautiful, warm, and highly expressive. As a Puccini soprano, she brings a flawless singing line and heartfelt lyricism to every song. A better model would be hard to find. …This volume and CD are 'a must have' for voice teachers, especially those who have some Chinese students who could perform these songs with ease and help American singers learn to appreciate and sing them."
-- Journal of Singing (2009)
"In this anthology, Dr. Zhong has collected traditional Chinese songs arranged for voice and piano by earlier Chinese composers, and new compositions of ancient Chinese texts by three composers trained in the West. The 'modern' portion represents very sensitive settings of these texts by Paul SanGregory (b. 1964), Derek Healy (b. 1936) and Chin-Chin Chen (b. 1964). The musical style is appropriately contemporary though never overly complex. The traditional songs, in contrast treat their melodies very much in the manner of 19th century Lieder.
We have here a wonderful volume, a treasure house of new material of an important culture to add to our concert programs. The Chinese language is excellently transliterated and an outstanding recording accompanies the Anthology to aid in the interpretation of both music and words. Most helpful is the beautiful reading of the texts by Dr. Zhong on the recording-the language here sounds just like music. I congratulate her on a most valuable contribution to the song literature of our day, which I know will be of great benefit to the renewal of recital programming."
"Following the success of her first anthology of contemporary settings of Chinese folk songs, Mei Zhong draws us deeper into the rich repository of Chinese vocal art in her new and challenging collection of traditional and modern art songs. Dr. Zhong has called upon the genius of contemporary composers to create original melodies and settings in evocative and beguiling admixtures of traditional and contemporary musical garb. Traditional art songs of the respected Chinese composers Huang Zi, Yang Yinliu, Qing Zhu, Huang Youdi, Li Yinghai, and Liu Wen Jin provide equipoise to these more adventurous works.
Part I of the anthology consists of 26 songs for medium and high voice. Part II for medium and low voice contains 21 songs. Dr. Zhong has significantly enhanced the anthology by including verbatim translations, poetic translations, recorded pronunciation of texts and performances of every song, as well as commentaries and written histories of the poets and composers. This is but the second phase in Dr. Zhong's plan to enhance our understanding and appreciation of poetic and vocal treasures of China and this musical feast whets the appetite for delicacies that are yet to come."
Anthology of Chinese Songs, Volume I: Newly Arranged Chinese Folk Songs
(ISBN:1-878617-64-8) and its companion recording are available via http://www.leyerlepublications.com/ or from quality music or book stores in the United States.
"Dr. Mei Zhong, has begun an important musical contribution to the multicultural education that is so necessary in our increasingly intertwined and interdependent world. …For those interested in learning something about Chinese singing and performance tradition, this volume is a gold mine."
--Journal of Singing (2007)
"With this publication of newly arranged Chinese folk songs, Dr. Mei Zhong makes an important contribution to the repertoire that is available to the twenty-first century singer. During the final decade of the past century, the vocal repertoire of Eastern Europe became more common in recital performances. However, there are still musical frontiers to be explored, one of which is the music of the Orient. Dr. Zhong makes the singing of songs from the culture of the East a possibility for the western singer. She deals with the difficulties faced in singing this music by those who do not speak oriental languages… …She has made the repertoire, which has remained hidden for centuries, available to the western world in a very practical manner. I believe that this publication will open the door to a new culture for singers. As we hear the songs in this volume in recitals, the thirst for more such repertoire will most likely follow."
"To increase my familiarity with various kinds of Asian vocal music has long been a desire of mine, but that region of my musical background remained an empty chasm. The most powerful impediments to fulfilling my ambition, of course, were those exotic languages and their impenetrable written symbols. Now, in her anthology of Chinese folk songs, Dr. Mei Zhong of Ball State University has given us the opportunity to stretch our vocal and musical muscles to include a large variety of Chinese songs, made accessible with IPA symbols and, in the companion recording, an understanding of the style. What a pleasure to delve into these lovely and varied pieces."
-- Shirlee Emmons
"Now that China is becoming a new and vital force in the musical culture of the world, this book and CD, collated and performed by a wonderful Chinese artist: Mei Zhong, will give teachers, students and singers a way in which to broaden their repertoire and vistas."
"Soprano and Professor of Voice Mei Zhong has gathered herein 12 intriguing arrangements of delightful Chinese folk songs from different regions of that vast country. Set by composer Ting-Yi Ma, the highly melodic vocal lines are nestled harmonically and rhythmically within sophisticated musical constructs that heighten the lyrical nature of the spoken language. The accompaniments provided by Ma support and illuminate the honest utterance of the vocal line, weaving wonderfully evocative tonal tapestries that challenge and delight; there are no simplistic harmonizations for these uncomplicated melodies.
Volume I contains arrangements of each song for both high and low voice, and a CD recording of the songs sung by Dr. Zhong provides expert performances with which to whet the interpretative imagination. She also delivers dramatic readings of each text with clarity and nuance, thus presenting the student a model appropriate for acquiring the melodic, inflective characteristics of the spoken language.
This publication should become an essential part of the holdings of libraries in schools and conservatories of music throughout the western hemisphere. As China becomes a more important player on the global stage, understanding and appreciating the multi-layered tapestry of its culture is of increasing moment. Dr. Zhong has opened an exciting door for those of us who build our bridges through song. For this she has my gratitude, and I shall look forward to those companion volumes planned for future publication."
--George I. Shirley
"How wonderful to have an authentic guide to Oriental song repertoire that is understandable and usable! Chinese Folk Songs by Mei Zhong will serve singers, teachers, and coaches as a valuable reference to this unfamiliar repertoire. Twelve folk songs from various regions of China are presented in attractive and interesting arrangements by Ting-Yi Ma. Translations, commentaries and IPA transcriptions of each song are included, with a special study aid-an accompanying CD on which Mei Zhong performs the songs and pronounces the texts. This appealing repertoire deserves to be heard. Many thanks to Dr. Zhong for her comprehensive introduction to one of the last unexplored frontiers of song literature!"
"What a joy it is to discover Professor Mei Zhong's book of 'Newly Arranged Chinese Folk Songs.' Copies of folk songs using the Chinese numerical notation can be obtained easily enough in Chinatowns throughout the world, but this is the first time I have encountered such a precise and authentic version of such songs notated for Western concert use.
Not only are the songs accurately and expressively transcribed together with detailed ornamentation, but the original song texts are notated using two methods, giving the performer a choice of International Phonic Alphabet and the more user-friendly, but possibly less accurate, Pinyin system.
The excellent Commentary section also contains both a word-for-word and a literary translation of the texts, together with notes on each individual song's background together with brief analytical notes.
The accompaniments written by Ting-Yi Ma are expressive and colorful, calling to mind the techniques used on traditional zithers and lutes. A CD is available of performances of each of the songs by Mei Zhong accompanied by Chi-Yin which help to reinforce the text."
Heart Whispers, Contemporary Chinese Art Song Book II (Medium/Low Voice and Medium/High Voice)
Classical Vocal Reprints, CVR5225 and CVR5226，2019
Contemporary Chinese Art Song Book I (Medium/Low Voice and Medium/High Voice),
Classical Vocal Reprints, CVR 5107 and CVR5108，2018
“Her overall research extends to a wide range of interests, including not only the art song of China, but more specifically to guides to singing Chinese in choral settings, the music of Anton Bruckner, and the introduction of Western in Chinese music education.…The songs are pleasant, tonally conservative, and could be good additions to a program by singers seeking to add repertoire that lies outside of European and Western classical traditions….It is obvious that these songs are a labor of love on the part of Dr. Zhong and her colleagues.”
--Journal of Singing (2021)