Thursday, December 15, 2011

Wicked - Media Invite and Review

WICKED - the musical

A Review by
Hawk Liu

I had an amazingly 'wicked' day at the media session in the Grand Theater. Armed with a goodies bag of 'Wicked' media material and a wicked 'Wicked' green water bottle (!) I went into the theatre into the company of some TV crew and many photographers and reporters of sorts, some from other countries including Indonesia and even Australia. A pleasant surprise was seeing my friend, Emilie-Ann Oehlers with her friend Joanne, attending the event too.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

SLO 'Don Giovanni' and SSO 'Fidelio' Cast Announced

February looks set to be an epic showdown between our only professional Western orchestra and opera company, as both the SLO and SSO are presenting their own opera presentations only a week apart. Both works are masterpieces of the classical genre, one uses a familiar, largely local ensemble cast while the other presents a roster of ang mohs who have undoubtedly sung their parts elsewhere with acclaim. The tragedy is that I won't be in town to witness the fight in person, but for all of you who cares, here's a glimpse of what we can expect:

SLO Don Giovanni
24, 25, 27, 28 Feb

Don Giovanni - Song Kee Chang
Il Commendatore - William Lim
Donna Elvira - Ee-Ping
Don Ottavio - Melvin Tan
Donna Anna - Nancy Yuen
Leperello - Huang Rong Hai
Masetto - Martin Ng
Zerlina - Cherylene Liew

Really, what better way to cast an ensemble opera than with an ensemble of made-in-Singapore stars (by this I'm referring to artists who have become familiar here through many performances over many years)? Do check out our favourite live opera singers as they take on their respective landmark operatic roles in this most dramatically engaging yet equally comedic of musical masterpieces.

SSO Fidelio
18 Dec

Sinéad Mulhern (Leonore/Fidelio)
Stuart Skelton (Florestan)
Diogenes Randes (Rocco)
Camille Butcher (Marzelline)
Michael Heim (Jaquino)
Carsten Wittmoser (Don Pizarro)
Johannes Schmidt (Don Fernando)

Singapore Symphony Chorus
Singapore Bible College Chorale
Hallelujah Chorus
The Philharmonic Chamber Choir
Lan Shui conductor

I have personally heard Stuart Skelton's Florestan in Taiwan, also with Lan Shui at the helm, and its a really solid voice (and figure) to behold. Those of you are hungry for a true dramatic tenor with the right colours and ease on the top have something to look forward to. If that performance is any indication of Maestro Shui's intentions, we can expect a small, lean, orchestra  delivering the music at neck-breaking tempi.

Details on the Events Page

Saturday, December 10, 2011

"Belle Epoque Shanghaied" in Review

Belle Epoque Shanghaied
Esplanade Recital Studio

8 to 10 December (Thurs/Fri 8pm; Sat 3pm & 8pm)
written by Hawk Liu

Belle Epoque Shanghaied was loosely about an European couple who had an adventure in a cabaret in Shanghai with little twists and turns. The story is richly decorated with operetta songs in English, German, French and Mandarin, and the dialogue uses just as many languages.

The multi-cultural cast was certainly watchable, each with their own distinct identities that made them believeable. There was a song at every turn which was a pleasure. The two most attractive and technically able voices in my esteem were Brendan-Keefe Au and Tan Ting Lim though diction was a little lacking in the latter. Both do not come across as the strongest actors. In contrast, Sabrina Zuber was full of fun in the acting department and took every opportunity to show how comfortable she was in her character. She displayed a good range in her acting abilities. Though her voice projected easily, I did wish it stayed longer in each pitch she sang.  

Allison Lester as the proprietress of the Cabaret was fun to watch, a diligent actor who never let down her character as long as she was on stage. Sustaining her laughing 'marathon' during Sabrina's laughing song from Die Fledermaus was admirable. A very pitch-accurate, though a somewhat less-strong voice, Allison gave us a very haunting 'Mack the Knife' in the original German and also in Mandarin! Allison's spoken Mandarin was also amazing! By the way, I love her high-collared shiny Mandarin costume which befitted her character. Robert Jenkin's beautiful voice was loud and clear and I believed his querky character totally. I did wish he took his patter song a lot faster! Dayal Singh, playing a seemingly minor character, had a lot to do a stage and was physically the most engaged on stage. I swear he could do a cartwheel while singing at the same time. Although not a technical singer, he nevertheless sang his boots off in every song.

The dialogue was interesting enough if you put it in the context of a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta, and a multi-lingual one. The actors were convincing, switching languages at every turn. A key element that lacking for me was the speed of delivery; I felt as if I was watching a Gilbert and Sullivan in slow motion.

I love the use of spotlights on the sets and the lantern theme was very attractive. While some parts tend to move slowly, it was altogether an enjoyable evening. A celebration of operetta songs that fans of operettas would love!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The Mad Scene in Concert

Poster, click to enlarge 

Somehow it never occurred to me to blog about this concert on The Mad Scene: my compulsory year 3 recital (yeah its been that long!), especially when the source of inspiration for design is obvious. If you happen to be in Taipei this coming Thursday 8 December 2011, do drop by and check out The Mad Scene - in Concert. I'm a nervous wreck right now trying to squeeze in last minute practices, tying up logistical loose ends and coping with the erratic weather here. More details can be found on the Facebook Invite.

Postcard front 

Postcard back


Friday, December 2, 2011

SLO Annual Concert in Pictures

The Singapore Lyric Opera's recent 2011 Annual Concert has concluded with star-studded performances by Nancy Yuen, Song Kee-Chang and Lee Jae-Wook. Here are some pictures of the night's proceedings: