Act II is what every fan of the Finnish soprano Tarja Turunen has been waiting for. After the success of Act I, Turunen released the live album ‘Act II’ that came to take our breath away. With a show of more than 1 hour recorded at Metropolis Studios in London, it was enough to amaze her audience for once more with her exceptional vocal skills as well as her ability on stage to attract even the most difficult viewer.
Before to analyse the performance, it is important to mention the editing and lighting techniques. Black and white cast shadows as well as experimentation with key lighting, back and frontal, create a mysterious environment as well as fitting the mood of each song. Furthermore, it is of a great importance how strong key light in a combination of frontal lighting, highlight each of the performer’s facial characteristics as well as accentuating Turunen’s expressions. Three point lighting emphasizes on Turunen (the important member of the band) by drawing the attention to her. The diagonal key light highlights Tarja’s right side as well as her hair in a combination with the fill light that balances the shadows. The backlight serves to accentuate the other band members behind her. The low key illumination is even more intense in black and white, creating strong contrast among the shadows that enhance the uncertainty of the environment. Another important editing technique used in the video is the dissolve that allows the viewer to absorb the scene gradually. Finally, the cuts that are part of the 180 degree rule make a smooth change between each of the different scenes without being distracting and noticeable by the viewer.
Moving away from lighting and editing techniques the performer’s attitude on stage is one of the most noticeable things apart from intonation.
“No bitter” is a great way to begin the show with a very peaceful introduction of Turunen’s soprano voice that is suddenly interrupted by the electric guitar. Clearly Turunen enjoys performing this piece as this can be confirmed by her expressions. It is known that her exceptional vocal skills don’t go unnoticed as they can be heard in the next song “Eagle eye“. The song begins in Em accentuating the sense of the so called ‘sad scales’ as well as creating a sense of melancholy allowing Turunen’s expressive performance to be successfully transferred to the audience. Furthermore, the piece accentuates Turunen’s ability to sustain notes accompanied by her unique vibrato. “Sing for me” can be described as a storytelling. The Metropolis alive performance of the song is even more mesmerizing and highly emotional as can be seen in the way in which Turunen performs the piece. The contrast of F sharp major from the verse, to Fm in the chorus, satisfies the listener. Moreover, the lack of heavy instruments in the first few seconds of the song show Turunen’s ability to control perfectly her voice. The next song “love to hate” focuses more on the main theme that moves in semitones between the notes beginning with Ab going straight to G.
There is no doubt that Turunen is an exceptional artist.
- Nordic Metal Review
From the early stages of her career until now, she maintains a purity and authenticity in her music as well as having a decent attitude on stage. Metropolis alive will not leave anyone disappointed as Turunen has always the way to amaze the audience with her magical voice.
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Moving away from the metal element, “the living end” involves more acoustic guitar and Celtic sounds creating a calm environment. Additionally, the snare drum accentuates the sense of a marching rhythm. “Medusa” has a very unique instrumental introduction focusing on ostinatos, ups and downs in Turunen’s voice, big leaps and high notes. “Calling from the wild” has an introduction that requires a great breath control something that Turunen achieves with no effort. “Victim of ritual” is a song with a strong marching rhythm enhanced by the snare for once more, as well as using more orchestral instruments. What cannot go unnoticed is the way in which Turunen emphasizes the word ‘ritual’. It is definitely one of the songs that can easily get stuck in your head. “Die alive” includes a haunting dissonance melody in Turunen’s expressive voice leaving the audience mesmerized by her abilities. The next piece, “innocence” involves Chopin melodies as described by Turunen admitting that they might by challenging for Christian Kretschmar the keyboardist. However, Kretschmar performed his part very meticulously and respect to Chopin. It is a powerful performance and highly emotional decorated by the chromatic scales of the piano. “Until my last breath” is performed in a great detail and perfectly intonated. Moreover, the absence of heavy instruments do not prevent Turunen from showing her skills as a soprano. ‘Too many’ is a sad song as explained by Turunen and said that it has to be the last song of the album because of the feeling of hope. Indeed, Turunen performs the piece in a very expressive way. Even though it has some challenging leaps, she successfully transfers the emotion and feelings to her audience.