Sunday, October 31, 2010

Jose Carerras Interview on Youtube:

No The Mad Scene hasn't forgotten that Jose Carreras is appearing here soon; in fact I've tried to get an interview with him, but that didn't work out very well. To make up for it, here's an interview that he's done recently on Korean television, where he discusses among many things the passing of his friend Pavarotti and recovering from leukemia:

Check out the Events Page for more information on his concert here.

Taiwan Gay Pride Parade

This is not opera-related but I've had so much fun marching along with these happy campers that I thought of sharing my pics here with you. The event got off a rousing start at 2pm as the procession went through the hip Ximenting area, to the thumping beats of Madonna, Mariah and their younger disciples. Somehow I bumped into a bunch of friends from school and marched with them for about 2 hours before retreating from the cold weather and drizzling rain. While I really hope that I won't fall sick tomorrow, I have to say that it was a lot of fun in support of a worthy cause.

Check out the rest of my pictures here.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Teenage Boy Aspires to be Queen

This seems to be the most popular viral video in Taiwan at the moment: check out this 15 year old boy's pitch perfect Queen of the Night!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Interview with Gabrielle Maes

Hot off her recent sccess in the breast cancer fndraiser Pink Beats, Canadian Gabrielle Maes is staging her solo performance of Kurt Weill's songs in a cabaret presentation. Titled Kurt Weill Cabaret, an Homage to Wayward Women, this show will also be her stage farewell to Singapore as she will be moving to the States soon.

Now The Mad Scene doesn't usually run two interviews with the same personality within such a short time period, but given the circumstances I think its understandable that I would like Singaporean audiences to get to know Gabrielle better while she is still here. Having heard her sing wonderfully in many genres, from a dazzling Una voce poco fa to a heartfelt Cry Me a River, I think this show will be a great opportunity for us to catch her in action while we still can. So here goes our interview:

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Salzburg's Marriage of Figaro

This 2007 release of this Marriage of Figaro from the Salzburg Festival's celebration of Mozart's anniversary is just about the most pointless production I've had the misfortune to witness. Never has such a promising, star-studded cast been wasted on the mismanagement of both conductor and director. But this is not a failure due to incompetency of those at the top, rather its a well thought-out, finely honed and ultimately successful attempt to drain all life and joy out of this most beloved of operatic comedies.

Director Claus Guth directed the proceedings with so much solemnity that you'd think its a production of Tristan instead. This being Salzburg in the modern day, a fair bit of weirdness is probably expected; so we having Figaro cutting open Cherubino's arm while the Count holds him during Non piu andrai and smearing blood all over his face,  and Cherubino later making out with both Susanna and the Countess during Susanna's make-up aria (his arm mysteriously healed in the preceeding interval). Every performer sings with a dazed facial expression, especially in the drearily slow recitatives, as if they were all speedballing cocaine laced with marijuana (thanks Whitney!) Poor Bo Skovhus as the Count had to sing Hai gia vinta la causa while a male fairy sits in his left shoulder and shoves his crotch into his neck. Little wonder then that he declaims the aria more than sings it.

As for the singers, its rare these days for any company to have assembled a top notch cast that includes Anna Netrebko as Susanna (Mozart figured quite a bit in her early career but has since taken a back seat after she has became a star), Dorothea Roschmann as the Countess, Christine Schaefer as Cherubino, Ildebrando d'Arcangelo as Figaro and as mentioned above, Bo Skovhus as the Count. I hesitate to judge their assumption of these famous roles based on this production. Suffice to day that they are mostly in good voice, with vocal resources more than sufficient for their parts; everyone looked chic and sohpisticated in their suits and gowns, and a pre-pregnancy Anna Netrebko looked especially fetching in her maid's outfit. However, I do not recommend this DVD nor the audio CD release at all, whether you are a fan or not, unless you are having a masochistic frame of mind.

Gabrielle Maes sings Kurt Weill Songs

Click to enlarge

Canadian mezzo-sporano and musical theatre singer Gabrielle Maes presents Cabaret Kurt Weill, An Homage to Wayward Women this coming Friday, 29 October 2010. Last seen recently at the breastcancer fundraiser Pink Beats, this will be Gabrielle's last performance before moving out of Singapore. She has extensive experience performing all over the world, so its a great chance to catch a wonderful performer while she is still here. Click on the image above for more details.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Maestro on Speed

You've got to admire the members of this orchestra for being able to play in time despite this erm...hyperactive maestro.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Houston's Opera Vista

The story of how a Bangkok-based composer saved an American opera company from going bankrupt - by composing a new opera that requires an elephant! A true story of how artistic merit can actually be profitable. other opera companies should start taking notes:

Thursday, October 14, 2010

OMG Free PDF Scores!!!

So I was searching for a piano-vocal score of Bach's cantata Ich Habe Genug; the edition for full orchestra is widely available but I've yet to find an arrangement for vocal-piano at brick-and-mortar stores, so I decided to go online to find a store and buy it. Thank goodness then that the first result of my search yielded, where I could download the entire 3 movement work on PDF for FREE! Its a great resource and doesn't even require signing up! Many pieces for various instruments and ensembles are available, including full scores of Messiah and Semele. Go check it out!

Also, do take a look at for more freebies. Special thanks to my friend Zhi Bin for the tip.

Monday, October 11, 2010

RIP La Stupenda

Wow its the end of an era. Dame Joan Sutherland was born in 1926 and went on to wow the world with her stupendous voice. As a tribute from The Mad Scene, let's go back to where it all began: a recording from THAT debut run of Lucia di Lammermoor at Covent Garden in 1959:

For something a little off the beaten track, I recommend opera critic Sonny Lim's 2007 feature about Dame Joan, as published on his blog Opera Recordings.

News source: Sydney Morning Herald via Parterre Box.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Choral Concert this Sunday - Manila, ManiLAH!

PsalmiDeo, a choral group made up of largely Filipino expats, will be staging Manila, ManiLAH! Now we know that our Filipino friends have wonderful voices - our SLO productions would only have 5 choir members left if not for their participation - so this is a great opportunity to see them take centrestage (quite a few SLO choir members belong to this group as well). Here is a brief but impressive list of what PsalmiDeo has achieved since coming together in 2003:

  • October 2010 - SCO Ensemble Series 2010 at the Singapore Conference Hall's Concourse;
  • August 2010 – Singapore Heritage Fest 2010, Suntec City Atrium;
  • June 2010 – Philippine Independence day celebrations at the Philippine Embassy, Singapore;
  • June 2010 - Collaboration with Rose Borromeo Spanish Dance Company, Dance Circle Studios and SaltShaker Productions, “Noche de Estrellas” Spanish fiesta at Villa Frangipani, Gilman Village;
  • November 2009 and January 2010 – participation in the events to commemorate 40 years of Philippine-Singapore diplomatic relations (November 2009 – Asian Civilizations Museum; January 2010 – Singapore Arts Museum);
  • December 2008 and 2009 - performance with Ms. Babes Conde at the Esplanade Open Amphitheatre during the “Celebrate December” activities;
  • June 2007 - Philippine Art Trek (part of a series of Philippine Independence day celebrations), at the ARtrium of the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA);
  • June 2006 - Philippine Independence day celebrations at the Kallang Theater
  • December 2005 - the group’s first concert at the Singapore Arts House;
  • March 2005 - Guest appearance at “Babes & Friends” with Ms. Conde at the Esplanade Concert Hall;
  • October 2004 – represented the Philippines at the United Nations General Assembly in 2004 (at request of the Philippine Embassy);
  • July 2003 - represented the Philippines at the ASEAN@Play sports event (at the request of the Philippine Embassy)

The Mad Scene speaks to conductor Kiko Dimalanta about the show:

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Opera Siam (formerly Bangkok Opera) Rebrands, Launches World Opera Week

The company formerly known as Bangkok Opera will now be known as Opera Siam. In conjunction with this new image is the launch of World Opera Week, a series of productions from 16 to 22 December including a visit from Opera Vista Houston, who will be presenting Somtow's opera The Silent Prince. The local company will also present a new production of Carmen by Darren Royston, starring Grace Echauri and Nancy Yuen. So if you really CAN'T WAIT to catch La Yuen's Micaela, here's where you can get more information.

Here is Grace Echauri singing a duet from José Pablo Moncayo's opera La Mulata de Cordoba with Rollando Villazon:

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Pink Beats Interviews

Pink Beats takes place this coming Thursday, 7 October 2010. Three different concerts bringing together artistes from over the world and featuring numerous genres, all coming together to raise money and awareness for breast cancer (read more about the concert here). The Mad Scene is pleased to introduce two featured artistes:

Gabrielle Maes

Originally from Canada, Gabrielle Maes is a charismatic and multi-talented performer who's training and career has brought her to England, Jerusalem, Malaysia and Singapore in addition to her native Canada. Currently teaching musical theatre at LASELLE SIA, she will be featured in the cabaret section of the evening. You can find out more about Gabrielle and hear her sing on her website

The Mad Scene: Hi Gabrielle, thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us what is your experience in classical vocal music, and how did you end up here in Singapore?

Gabrielle: I studied early music in Canada. I have a graduate degree in it. I ended up in Singapore because my husband took a job here, and we were looking for interesting places to live. Singapore definitely lives up to the standard of interesting! Also, so I could work doing what I do best. Singing of course!

The Mad Scene: What pieces would you be performing for us that evening?

Gabrielle: Actually, I will be singing in the cabaret part of this show. There are three sections, so the audience has the pleasure of moving around each station and being entertained by a bunch of great musicians who do everything from jazz to grand opera.

The Mad Scene: Describe your voices for those of us who have not heard you.

Gabrielle: I have many voices…hehehe..I am pretty versatile. You have to be in order to survive the entertainment business, or at least make a living doing so. I have done everything from opera to musical theatre, from comedy to very serious stuff. I am a mezzo, but will sing whatever I enjoy!

The Mad Scene: This event is a fundraiser for breast cancer. Please tell us what breast cancer and early prevention means to you as a woman and singer.

Gabrielle: Its ironic that I am singing this show. My sister who I love with all my heart has breast cancer now, and is struggling through all the standard procedures. She has just undergone a mastectomy. She basically raised me when my mother died of ovarian cancer when I was eight. Breast cancer runs in my family, so I am fastidious about checking myself regularly. Also, most breast cancer is not genetic, so it is very important to bring breast cancer awareness to women. Come to think of it, I am due for a check now!

The Mad Scene: Who are your favourite singers, classical or otherwise? And why?

Gabrielle: I love Victoria de los Angeles for her natural warm sound, and her genuine musicality. Nina Simone for her great musical intelligence, and Patti Lupone for her powerful voice and theatrical presence. Those are three women off the top of my head. The list goes on and on and on..

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why should we all come attend Pink Beats on 7 Oct 2010?

Gabrielle: Because the show will be fantastic!! You will have some of the best women in Singapore strutting their stuff. Sexy cancan dancers , a bit of comedy, dramatic opera arias for the more sophisticated, cabaret for the marginal folk…Its going to be a blast, and you can contribute to a very important cause! Keeping man’s best friend healthy!!


Soprano Satsuki Nagatome started classical singing since she was 7, with the famous NHK orchestra's children's choir no less. Now settled in Singapore for work, Satsuki glad to take part in this series of performances in order to raise awareness for this disease that is very close to her heart.

The Mad Scene: Hi Satsuki! Thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us what is your experience in classical vocal music, and how you ended up here in Singapore?

Satsuki: I started classical vocal training as a member of NHK Tokyo Broadcasting Children's Chorus at the age of 7, for 13 years. I had a chance to work in Singapore one day, so I came here. I’ve always been attracted to Singapore. While I was working here, I joined TPCC in 2000 and the SLO choir in 2001. I started classical vocal training as a soloist from 2002 under Mr Lim Shieh Yih, and now I’m studying as an opera singer under Ms Khor Ai Ming.

The Mad Scene: What pieces would you be performing for us that evening?

Satsuki: I will be singing the Flower Duet from Lakme by Delibes together with Ms Khor Ai Ming.
As a solo number, I will be singing Song to the Moon from Rusalka by A.Dvorak.

The Mad Scene: Describe your voices for those of us who have not heard you.

Satsuki: I thing my voice is brighter than the operatic voice we often hear, maybe because of my background in children’s songs and musicals rather than classical songs. I believe you can recognize my voice after hearing it for just one time (I hope tonight??).

The Mad Scene: This event is a fundraiser for breast cancer. Please tell us what breast cancer and early prevention means to you as a woman and singer.

Satsuki: I have a few friends who have breast cancer. It’s a serious and familiar problem for all women, not just a few. And for a singer, having good health is the most important thing. So I believe early prevention can help us a lot.

The Mad Scene: Who are your favourite singers, classical or otherwise? And why?

Satsuki: Actually I have many favorites, but if I need to choose only one, it would be Renee Fleming. I really love her performance when she sang Song to the Moon, and this is one of the reasons why I’ve decided to sing this number in the concert.

The Mad Scene: As our e-zine is called The Mad Scene, please tell us what is your favourite mad scene, and why?

Satsuki: I’m not sure what my favourite mad scene is, but I love The Mad Scene because I can find lots of information about local musicians like us!!

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why should we all come attend Pink Beats on 7 Oct 2010?

Satsuki: You can enjoy performances by a cast of 13 artists from 8 nationalities, and all women! Opera, classical, jazz, blues, pop, and cabaret all in one night!! It’s a rare chance!! You must come to watch us!!


Hear that fellas? Once again, Pink Beats is on this coming Thursday, 7 October. Ticketing information available on the Events Page.