Saturday, May 26, 2012

Quick Chat with Anna Koor

OK just remember that Opera in the Park is on 2 June, this coming Saturday at 6pm. The SLO Orchestra, headed by Joshua Kangming Tan, accompanies Melvin Tan, Cherylene Liew and Anna Koor in a popular selection of arias, duets and orchestral excerpts. The Mad Scene speaks to Anna Koor and gets her to weigh in on the event:

The Mad Scene: Hi Anna, thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us what got you interested in opera?

Anna Koor: Since young, I was always amazed and impressed by the way the opera singers sing and act at the same time.

The Mad Scene: Which opera singers do you consider as role models/inspirational figures?

Anna Koor: I love the legendary soprano Maria Callas. She was so elegant and sophisticated when she performed. She not only sings well, but acts well too!

The Mad Scene: You are one of Singapore’s few singers who has achieved a professional career without long-term academic studies in Europe or America, what advice can you give to young hopefuls who don’t have the resources to head overseas?

Anna Koor: I believe that my voice is a gift from God. One must have passion in singing, be humble and willing to learn. Seize every opportunity to learn and widen your repertoire. Work hard to upgrade oneself and watch and listen to more classical music, opera CDs and DVDs.

The Mad Scene: Heard or seen any good opera CDs/DVDs recently that you would recommend to our readers?

Anna Koor: Verdi’s Aida by The Metropolitan Opera on Blu-ray.

The Mad Scene: What led you to choose the pieces that you will be performing for us on 9 June?

Anna Koor: The programme is done by the Singapore Lyric Opera. SLO is very kind to include me in the programme as I believe it has been a couple of years that they have done works for mezzo-soprano.

The Mad Scene: The hot and humid Singapore outdoors is not really conductive to maintaining a glamorous opera singer image. Have you planned any strategies to keep your hair and make-up fresh on that day?

Anna Koor: I plan to wear a gown that is sleeveless and light. I may bun up my hair to keep cool and will be using Studio Sculpt foundation for my makeup. I will think cool to keep cool and enjoy myself!

Yuri Bashmet with the Moscow Soloists in Review

Yuri Bashmet with the Moscow Soloists
Friday, 25 May 2012 07:30 PM
Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore
Event sponsored by Gazprom

Mozart - Divertimento in D K136
Paganini - concertino for viola and strings
Rossini - sonata #3 in C
Stravinsky - Russian song for siola and strings
Tchaikovsky - souvenir di Florence

A Review by Hawk Liu

I felt the tension in the audience as it waited with anticipation for the one-night-only concert to begin. They weren't disappointed. The opening strains of Mozart started and I realised how very warm the sound of the ensemble was. The playing was superb throughout the evening. What came through, as it should, was very beautiful music filling the hall, rather than just an academic exercise in ensemble playing. The sound was full and lush and one doublebass did enough wonders to balance the overall sound.

But I do have one major complaint about the balance: when Bashmet was playing the solos, he was standing too near the rest of the ensemble and as a result, the viola didn't stand out and many precious lines were very sorely missed. The Paganini solo lines didn't quite do it for me. Paganini is operatic in his writing for his concertos and I felt Bashmet didn't play it with the flair the music required. Vibrato was often left at the door with a lot of straight tone playing, and the florishes didn't florish. I was really disappointed. Bashmet appeared to be an unassuming man and his body language was reserved. Hmm....a big dose of Liberace wouldn't hurt! Still, I am not taking away the fact that the ensemble was a luscious sound and hugely beautiful.

The pieces chosen for the night were by no means famous ones, or maybe I am just less into chamber music beyond Baroque. I didn't know a Mozart divertimento could be so exciting as the one played here. The Rossini, strangely, sounded very much like another Mozart, with a dab of Verdi here and there. The Stravinsky was priceless. Up to his usual inventive tricks, Stravinsky gave us a piece that had me thinking the ensemble and viola were playing in different tonalities from each other and yet they did come together well as a unit. I was baffled and delighted. The Tchaikovsky was a delight with the outer movements sounding like extended operatic interludes between scenes, and the middle movement made interesting use of pizzicato effects.

Standing ovations demanded encores and we heard a wonderful little piece of solo and ensemble playing a very inventive (I believe Russian) drunkard song armed with a number of 'tipsy', technical tricks: that final slow glissando on the solo was precious. The final encore was 'Happy Birthday' played with a few variations and in the styles of different musical genres such as the Vienese waltz, a Hungarian dance as well as the Argentinian tango. Yes, you would expect the crowd to go wild and they did. That last encore is definitely going to bring the crowd back should they come back for another concert.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Annie Casting Call for Girls

Parents adamant about having their young girls perform onstage now have a new opportunity to exploit develop their talents besides having them strut in inappropriate outfits at the campy annual channel 8 variety show singing competition. Check out the details below:


Singapore, Monday 14 May 2012- Singapore's aspiring young actresses will have the opportunity to audition for the roles of the orphans in the forthcoming UK production of the musical ANNIE, which opens at the Sands Theater, Marina Bay Sands, on 10 July 2012.

The producers, Lunchbox Theatrical Productions in partnership with BASE Entertainment Asia, today announced details of the auditions taking place on 2nd and 3rd June, and called for girls aged six to 14 who can sing, dance and act to register their interest by downloading the form from and emailing to by May 27th 2012.

The show's director and choreographer Roger Hannah, will be flying from the UK to Singapore for the auditions, and will be looking for three sets of nine orphans - the small and cute Molly, the 'Tom-boy' characters Pepper and July, as well as Kate, Duffy, Violet, Eleanor, Rosie and Becky. Each character must measure no more than 5'2" or 157cm in height.

Milan Rokic, Managing Director of BASE Entertainment Asia said, "We are really excited to be involved with Lunchbox Theatrical Productions and Singapore Repertory Theater in finding the right talent for this big International production coming to Singapore. This is a tremendous opportunity for children in Singapore to be offered the chance to perform in a large Broadway show. We look forward to finding local talent and growing their careers in what will be a spectacular introduction, via ANNIE, to The Arts and Broadway productions."

The role of Annie will be played in rotation by three UK-based children who will tour with the production.

ANNIE has become one of the best-loved family musicals of all time. The show boasts one of Broadway's most memorable scores, with the orphans performing some of the best tunes including It's The Hard Knock Life, You're Never Fully Dressed Without A Smile and A New Deal for Christmas. Plus there's fantastically visual choreography, a side-splittingly funny script and, of course, the adorable dog Sandy.

"A musical that tugs at your heartstrings"
The Times, UK

Successful candidates will be joining Britain's hilarious star of stage and screen Su Pollard, who plays Miss Hannigan, the dastardly gin-soaked Principal of the New York Orphanage, as well as David McAlister, a veteran of the West End stage and TV dramas, who will play the role of the kindly billionaire businessman Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks.

Producer James Cundall, Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions said, "For young actresses to have the chance to star on stage with actors of this calibre in an international production will be a dream come true and the chance of a lifetime. Early in her acting career the Hollywood star Catherine Zeta Jones appeared as an orphan in the London production of ANNIE so you never know where an opportunity such as this could take you!"

Monday, May 14, 2012

SSO 2012/13 Season Announced

And the vocal concerts are few but woah.... If I were in Singapore I would not miss the Messiah on 9 November for its star-studded cast: John Nelson conducting with counter-tenor Lawrence Zazzo, tenor Richard Croft and bass-baritone Nathan Berg (no idea who soprano Mary Wilson is but she's praobably just as great).

Then there's the 5 April 2013 concert of Britten's War Requiem (aaaahhhhhh!!!!!) Its such a profound piece of music that really has to be heard live to experience its full fragmented impact. The concert also features coloratura tenor superstar Barry Banks (though I don't expect him to break into his trademark Rossinian trills during the concert). A certain Juliane Banse completes the season's vocal highlights on 25 Jan 2013 with Berlioz's Les nuits d'été followed by an encore of Abscheulicher! from Beethoven's Fidelio. Check out the Events Page for more details.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Beethoven Lives Upstairs on Time Out Singapore

The SSO gets kiddie with it in this month's Time Out Singapore's feature of Beethoven Lives Upstairs, a skit about a young neighbour of Beethoven who has to put up with all his eccentricities. Check out my feature story here:

Thursday, May 10, 2012

I Fagiolini - Vespers EPK

This is a promo of a fascinating project of erm... I really don't know how to describe the nature of the piece being performed so here's the promo copy:

Celebrated British ensemble I Fagiolini reconstructs a 400-year-old lost choral masterpiece for 7 choirs and release a world-premiere recording of Italian Vespers extravaganza. Following on from their multi-award winning recording of Striggio's Mass in 40 Parts from 1566, Robert Hollingworth takes his maverick ensemble I Fagiolini on a new journey unearthing lost works from the High Renaissance and early Baroque.

Released on 4 June, the album 1612 presents the world-premiere recordings of Viadana's 4-choir Vesper Psalms, a reconstruction of Giovanni Gabrieli's 28-voice Magnificat, a reconstitution of his In Ecclesiis and other lost treasures from this glorious period of multi-choir music. 1612 is a majestic and intricate feast of kaleidoscopic colour for voices, brass, wind, strings, lutes and organs.


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

BAM II - The International Festival Chorus in Concert

Concerts these days are a dime a dozen, concerts that come bundled with booze are another matter. The International Festival Chorus's concert on 12 May (this coming Saturday) features the music of Mozart, Brahms and ASEAN composers and your weekend tipple. The appeal kind of speaks for itself doesn't it?


Event title: BAM II - The International Festival Chorus in Concert 

Date: 12 May 2012
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Lee Foundation Theatre, NAFA Campus 3, 151 Bencoolen Street, Singapore

Tickets: $25 for adults and $10 for kids, seniors, and students.
Inclusive of post-concert wine and canapés.

Book tickets by emailing

 Event Description: A choral concert by the International Festival Chorus, featuring delightful choral and opera works by Brahms, Mozart, and ASEAN Composers.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Vocalogy Musical Theatre Concert (8 April 2012)

Check out the young talents of Vocalogy Music School in action:


 Wanna get a piece of the stage for yourself? Find out more about Vocalogy's singing classes here:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

"Annie" in Singapore

The children's musical Annie opens in Singapore on 10 July, check out their press release below:


One of the World's Most -Loved Musicals of All Time - Annie to make its debut in Singapore!

Tickets are now on sale!

Singapore, 30th April 2012 - Everyone's favourite little red-headed orphan is headed to Singapore to entertain audiences with timeless classics. One of the most-loved musicals of all time, the acclaimed UK production of ANNIE will play in Singapore for the first time at the Grand Theater, Marina Bay Sands from July 10th 2012 for a strictly limited season. Tickets are on sale now.

Leading a supremely talented UK cast is Britain's hilarious star of stage and screen, Su Pollard, and David McAlister, a veteran of the West End stage and TV dramas.

Producer James Cundall, Chief Executive of Lunchbox Theatrical Productions said, "To be working with two of the UK's leading actors is a dream come true. Su Pollard became a national treasure with her performance in Hi-de-Hi!, where she demonstrated that unbelievable comedic timing which she will bring to the role of Miss Hannigan. David McAlister is a consummate star, with the most incredible array of credits spanning more than three decades and a wide spectrum of entertainment. Singapore is in for a real treat with these two wonderful actors starring in such a popular musical."

Perhaps best known for her brilliantly funny portrayal of Peggy in the hit BBC TV series Hi-de-Hi!, Su Pollard will play the dastardly, gin-soaked Miss Hannigan, Head Mistress of the hard-knock New York City Municipal Orphanage. The BAFTA Award-winning Hi-de-Hi! was a prime time favourite on UK television for eight years in the 1980s, turning its cast into household names, and is still frequently repeated on TV channels around the world as a 'classic' sit-com. As well as countless other TV roles, Su has appeared in numerous musicals and plays in London's West End (Godspell, Me and My Girl, Shout!) and around the UK (Grease, Little Shopof Horrors), and has performed her own cabaret show The Su Pollard Show on a UK tour, in New York City and on board the QEII cruise liner. Most recently Su has been performing the role of Miss Hannigan to great acclaim in the UK, and in 2010 was nominated for Best Leading Lady in a musical for her portrayal.

Playing the kindly billionaire businessman Oliver 'Daddy' Warbucks is David McAlister. David has enjoyed success in nearly every area of the entertainment industry from opera at Covent Garden (Franco Zefferelli's Pagliacci) to his own cabaret show at London's Ritz Hotel; from TV comedy (Harry Enfield & Chums) to TV classics(Brideshead Revisited); from radio drama (The Archers, The Lord of the Rings)to TV drama (The Bill, Miss Marple, Doctor Who);from film (Who Dares Wins)to the hugely popular British TV soaps including Eastenders, Emmerdale and Hollyoaks, for which he was nominated Best Villain.

His West End performances include the lead role in The Mousetrap, A Month in the Country with Ingrid Bergman, The Sound of Music and the lead role of Noel Coward opposite Joanna Lumley in Noel & Gertie at London's famous King's Head Theatre. He has a vast array of regional UK theatre credits, and since his first acclaimed performance in the role of Daddy Warbucks in 2007, David has now completed five nationwide tours of ANNIE.

Mr Cundall said "ANNIE is one of the major productions Lunchbox is bringing to Singapore this year in partnership with BASE Entertainment Asia. The show comes direct from a highly successful UK tour and features a cast and company of 52. The remainder of the cast have a combined total of 16 West End musical productions to their credit."

The role of Annie will be played in rotation by two UK-based children who will tour with the production.

From its Broadway beginnings to the classic film musical (released in 1982), the heart-warming rags-to-riches story of plucky young Annie's journey from the hard-knock New York orphanage to the luxurious home of billionaire businessman Oliver Warbucks, is a tale that has been told all over the world for decades.

"A musical that tugs at your heartstrings" The Times, UK

Boasting one of Broadway's most memorable, toe-tapping scores, including "It's The Hard Knock Life," "Easy Street" and the legendary "Tomorrow", plus fantastically visual choreography, a side-splittingly funny script and, of course, the adorable dog Sandy, it really is no surprise that ANNIE remains one of the most loved and universally appealing musicals of all time.

Fifty million people of all ages have been delighted by two Broadway runs of ANNIE, two Australian tours, two West End stints, five National U.S. companies, two hit movies and dozens of international productions, playing seasons all over the world. This UK production of ANNIE has been seen by over 3 million people during the last 10 years of touring to every major city in Great Britain.

"One of the most enchanting musicals I have ever seen" Sunday Times, UK

Inspired by the famous comic strip Little Orphan Annie which first ran in the New York News in 1924, Annieis set in Depression Era New York City at a time when the economy looked bleak, government seemed ineffective and the average citizen was desperate and frustrated. With its hopeful message and unwavering belief in a better tomorrow, ANNIE made its Broadway debut in April 1977 and played 2,377 performances before closing in 1983. The show won seven Tony Awards, including Best Musical, Best Book (Thomas Meehan), Best Original Score (music by Charles Strouse and lyrics by Martin Charnin), and Best Choreography.

"An irresistible show" The Daily Telegraph, UK

Now, 35 years after its Broadway debut, the timeless tale of Little Orphan Annie is back, giving a whole new generation the chance to experience a classic musical about never giving up hope. ANNIE is a delightful theatrical experience for any age.

ANNIE opens on 10 July 2012 for a limited run, and is presented in Singapore by Lunchbox Theatrical Productions Limited, in association with BASE Entertainment Asia.


Here's a clip of Su Pollard showing off her singing and comedic chops:


  Check out the Events Page for tickets.