Monday, July 30, 2012

Interview with Brendan-Keefe Au

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So I had a chat with Brendan Keefe-Au to discuss his upcoming recital Stories from the Garden on 17 August 2012. Brendan is always pleasant to talk to, and full of enthusiasm when discussing topics ranging from his upcoming recital to pursuing a full-time singing career. Here's what we discussed:

The Mad Scene: Why a garden-themed recital? How did this idea come about?

Brendan Keefe-Au: well, it presented itself I would say. I started off by looking all over the place for songs that fitted my voice and personality, and soon enough, I realised that I had a lot of songs about flowers, birds, trees, fields and interesting vignettes that happened in the garden. So I thought, why not? It has turned out to be beautiful so far and I'm immensely enjoying the preparation process.

The Mad Scene: are you a nature person?

Brendan-Keefe Au: I can be, but I'd say I'm more of a city person on the whole - I need a bit of hustle and bustle, buildings, bright lights and activity, but I also need my fair share of time walking in forests, nature reserves and parks. The city energises me, but nature refreshes me.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

New Opera Singapore Auditions

Fresh off a triumphant debut, New Opera Singapore will be holding auditions to cast its 2012/13 season on 4 August 2012. Here's more information:

Dear Singers,

New Opera Singapore is delighted to announce our coming open auditions for our 2012/13 season. Our open auditions present local singers of all levels with the opportunity to join us for all our productions in the coming year. Auditionees will be eligible to be invited to join us for solo and chorus opportunities.
The highlights of our 2012/13 season include Schubert's Die schöne Müllerin, our Opera Comique series as well as Henry Purcell's Dido and Aeneas.

The details of our open auditions are:
Venue: NAFA Campus 1, 2nd floor, Seminar room.
Date and Time: 4 August 2012, 2pm - 5pm

Interested applicants are encouraged to bring along their resumé and biography to the open audition. To apply, please reply to with the following information.

Voice Category:
Phone number:
Email address:
Audition repertoire:

Your audition repertoire should include 2 art songs or opera arias. Preferably one in the English language. Please also note that your audition has to be sung from memory.

Once we have received your application, we will be able to give you a more specific audition time. Please come 15 minutes before your assigned audition time.

From all of us at New Opera Singapore, I wish you all the best at the coming auditions and I look forward to seeing you there. Please feel free to contact me for any further information or clarifications you may need.

Best regards,
Jonathan Charles Tay
New Opera Singapore Ltd.
(+65) 98265421

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Ee-Ping Interview with SNGS Alumnae Association

I chanced across this interesting interview that Manon Lescaut star Ee-Ping did for her secondary school alumni's website back in November 2011. Its quite a comprehensive article and uncovers many aspects that we do not know about our local-born prima donna. Click here to check it out. And don't forget to get tickets for Manon Lescaut (opening 31 August) at SISTIC

Friday, July 27, 2012

"La Cage aux Folles" in Review - 24 July 2012

Imagine the glitz and glamour of the Boom Boom Room turned up a hundred times! This production is a grand extavaganza in every sense of the word. Part song-and-dance revue, part music drama plus a bit of stand-up comedy thrown in for good measure, no expenses were spared on the lavish sets and costumes. Certainly no Tanjong Pagar shophouse can possibly contain the gigantic, hyper-realistic sets specially constructed for this production, and actors change into increasingly glittery costumes that outshine even the most lavish Thai transvestite cabaret.

The numbers were so glitzy that they threatened to drown out the story-telling at many moments in the first act, but act 2 followed a stricter narrative flow, where songs are used to move the story along. No stranger to playing drag or outright female roles, Ivan Heng imbued his role of Albin with every drop of fabulousness the role requires, but he manages to flesh out the role so that we see the character's human side, his happiness and pain behind all the make-up and sequins. The main couple's middle-age drama in the beginning is as deeply felt as the main plot that came after. Singing in general had a speech-sing quality, while the orchestra sounded fuller than what we usually get from local musical productions.

My hats off to the Cagelles too, the nightclub's troupe of dancing chorus men/women/whatever, who's exacting job went beyond providing a simple backdrop for the main cast. Consisting of men and women from around the world, their tireless singing, dancing, acting and even acrobatic maneuvers were most impressive. The show's most complicated dance moves belonged to them and they pulled it off like the seasoned professionals that they are. This production is in every sense a feast for the eyes and ears, and one to make local theatre proud. Do not miss the chance to catch it!

La Cage aux Folle runs till 4 August 2012. Check out the Events Page for ticketing details.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Lao Jiu 《老九》in Review - 22 July 2012

Consider this another first for The Mad Scene. Since this is an English-language publication, we have decided to go the extra mile by having my Basso Canaries partner Andrew Xiao pen his opinions in Chinese, while my thoughts are documented on an English review. Lee Kwan-Yew has often said that we shouldn’t take our bilingualism for granted, so here’s your chance to sharpen your skills.

Director Kuo Jian-Hong said in pre-production publicity materials that she intends to make this musical adaptation of the late Kuo Pao-Kun’s play more accessible by ‘Disney-fying’ it. And so it was filled with many entertaining song-and-dance routines, capably performed by pop-singing competition contestant Sugie and his co-stars. But once the glossy veneer is stripped away, one is hit by the same difficult questions that the late Guo had posed to the audience and exemplified by the title character: the question of whether you should pursue your dreams that might not be in accord with what society expects, or follow what others might think is best for you.

Such is the dilemma of Lao Jiu, being born with a brain that is smarter than most, and at most times stifled and weighed down by the tremendous expectations his family had placed upon him. We also see the effects of our rapidly growing society have made on the past generation, how the once-popular trade of puppetry has died off and bringing along with it the puppeteer's means of earning a living, and the elders’ hopes that their children can avoid suffering a similarly tough life through education.

And so the title character, with the world’s expectations weighing down on him, is at once a sympathetic hero and the unwilling villain of his family and other well-intentioned supporters. One is made unclear as to whether we should be happy or disappointed with the final outcome; while we are happy to see that he has finally found his voice, we are nonetheless unsure as to whether he has made the right choice.

The play gives no easy answers. Leaving the theatre after watching Lao Jiu, I came away thoroughly entertained but yet also filled with a strange sense of unease, strong emotions that are difficult to put into words. The genius behind this work is that in bringing up these hard questions in such a relatable character and in a societal context that we can all relate to, one is in turn forced to question his or her own inner psyche: what decision would you have made if you were in his position? What price are you willing to pay to pursue your dreams? For myself who is also pursuing an artistic career, the impact is all the more deeply felt.

I also came away with deep admiration for Sugie, who plays the title role. Throughout this 2 and a half hour production he barely gets to leave the stage, yet sings, acts and dances perfectly in time with his cast-mates; his boy-next-door demeanour makes you root for him as you would root for yourself, so relatable is his characterisation.

In the end, this is a musical with the total package: attractive song and dance, a star-studded cast, and a good script with lots of heart. It’s even a good psychotherapy session too!



谁是老九? 老九本身有代表什么?这是我在观看已故本地戏剧大师,郭宝崑的代表作,《老九》刘晓义改编的音乐剧,《老九》所发出来的问题。








Lao Jiu runs till this coming Sunday 29 July 2012. Check out the Events Page for details.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Interview with SLO Stars William Lim, Melvin Tan and Martin Ng

Manon Lescaut Cast Interview with William Lim, Melvin Tan and Martin Ng
By Steven Ang
18 July 2012

The Singapore Lyric Opera will present Giacomo Puccini’s 1893 opera Manon Lescaut on 31 August, 1, 3 and 4 September 2012 at the Esplanade Theatre. The opera was premiered in the Teatro Regio in Turin and marked his first foray in the professional arena. Puccini’s publisher Ricordi was initially against this project as he feared comparisons with Massenet’s setting of the same literary source, Abbé Prévost’s tale of materialism and loose morality. However Puccini stood his ground, “Manon is a heroine I believe in and therefore she cannot fail to win the hearts of the public. Why shouldn’t there be two operas about Manon? A woman like Manon can have more than one lover. Massenet feels it as a Frenchman, with powder and minuets. I shall feel it as an Italian, with a desperate passion.”

As he had predicted, the opera was a great success and opened the path for the composer to achieve greater heights with his next efforts: La Bohème, Tosca and Madama Butterfly. I speak to three Singaporean singers and cast members William Lim, Melvin Tan and Martin Ng to get their take on this classic musical tale, and what we can expect when curtains open from 31 August to 4 September.

Postcard promoting the premiere production
Steven: Hi William, Melvin and Martin, thank you for doing this interview with me. Firstly, please introduce yourselves to our listeners and tell us what role you will be playing?

OperaViva's Original Opera "Fences"

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At long last, OperaViva's original opera Fences by John Sharpley and Robert Yeo is going to be fully staged on 18 to 19 August at the NAFA Theatre. Coming after New Opera Singapore's debut and only a few weeks before the SLO's Manon Lescaut opens, its great to see such a wide variety of operatic activity taking place in only such a short time. The opera is a Romeo and Juliet-style love story in tumultuous times as Singapore was getting separated from Malaysia. Bringing this very Singaporean love story to life is an international cast from Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, Russia and of course Singapore. Here's a description of the opera from their press release, and the cast and crew behind this production:


About “Fences”

OperaViva will premiere “Fences” and will be its third production after “Kannagi, the story of the Jewelled Anklet” in 2009. “Fences” is an original opera in two acts written by Dr John Sharpley and Mr Robert Yeo, and conceived by Mr Leow Siak Fah nine years ago.

“Fences” is about the fences in our hearts told through a version of the Romeo and Juliet story set in the tumultuous 1960s just before Singapore joined Malaya, through the period when Singapore was in Malaysia and into separation from Malaya.

Charming & flirtatious Steven Lee from Singapore and devout but liberal Nora Ibrahim from Kuala Lumpur, meet in Malaya Hall in London in the 1960s and fall in love. They return home to face objections from their fathers. Watch their love story unfold against the tumultuous racial, religious backdrop of the efforts of Singapore and Malaya to merge as a single political entity and their eventual parting of ways.

The question is whether love will triumph despite parental objections and racial and religious divisions.

Creative Team:

- Robert Yeo - Story and Lyrics (Singapore)
- John Sharpley - Music Composer (Singapore/US)
- Chandran K. Lingam - Artistic Director (Singapore)
- Darrell Ang - Conductor (Singapore/UK)
- Darius Lim - Choral Master (Singapore)


- Akiko Otao  - Nora Ibrahim (Singapore/Japan/US)
- David Quah  - Steven Lee (Hong Kong)
- Satsuki Nagatome - Mrs Ibrahim (Singapore/Japan)
- Nomer Son - Mr Ibrahim (Philippines, Manila)
- Anna Ivanenko - Mrs Lee (Singapore/Russia)
- Reuben Lai - Mr Lee (Singapore)
- Ivan Choong - Sarawak Student (Singapore)
- Frasier Tan - Sabah Student (Singapore)


Find out how to get tickets at the Events Page.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

New Opera Singapore's Debut

Its official, Singapore now has TWO opera companies! (We'll see if a third one will materialise next month.) Hawk Liu will come up with a formal review in due time, but I just have to say that I had the most enjoyable time today; hiccups were abundant but there was also great camaraderie and sense of striving for something bigger than themselves. I should also praise the team's creative use of limited resources. All the singers, soloists and ensemble alike, presented themselves well. While Hawk may not necessarily agree with all my points above, for my own I find it a very satisfying production and will see how this company grows with anticipation. Pity that it was not well-attended. The Sunday show was cancelled for whatever reason, but there's still the Saturday show so please do not miss this opportunity. An auspicious debut, my congratulations to all involved!

Find out more on the Events Page. 

UPDATE - 1:25pm, 21 July 2012

Hawk has just sent in his report of last night's proceedings:

New Opera Singapore
Donizetti’s L’elisir d’amore
SIA Theatre LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore
20 July 2012
Adina……………..Teng Xiang Ting
Nemorino…….. … Kee Loi Seng
Sgt. Belcore……..Jeremy Koh
Dr. Dulcamara......Yun Seong Woo
Gianetta………….Li Song Wei
New Opera Singapore Orchestra and Chorus

a review by Hawk Liu

For a first venture, New Opera Singapore did a credible job. L'elisir lends itself well to a small theatre and every expression was clear. The entire cast did an excellent job in the acting department. Top marks for the chorus which non-stop, high energy acting made their scenes work well. Never a dull moment with them!

I expected a big fat guy to appear as Dulcamara and when this scrawny tall chap dashed onto the stage I thought no way he was going steal my attention. I was wrong. He was as busy as any con man should be and I didn't trust him with my wallet! With immaculate diction, persuasion was his middle name in every scene, and that voice packed a punch tirelessly the whole way through. Adina's voice warmed up after the first aria and one hears the clarity in her tone. A light, attractive lyric voice, the coloratura was exciting and technique even throughout the entire range. Nemorino had a beautiful timbre and deserved a prize for physical acting. Nemorino could be a tiring role with a punishing tessitura and Loi Seng lasted well with glorious singing, albeit some signs of strain and nasality in a few scenes. Belcore had a beautiful voice which I believe will grow to a larger instrument. It was even throughout and the acting convincing. For the short solo showing, Gianetta made a mark with her lovely singing.

The orchestra did a fair job and despite missing cues in a few places, had the right interpretative energies where it mattered. The overall sound of the performance was difficult to judge as stage mics were used - pity.

I am going to the second night show tonight to see the next cast! It's always exciting to see any opera being performed in the country! Come along!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Annie @ Marina Bay Sands – 10 July 2012

You know that you are getting on with age when you almost tear up at such an innocent, heart-warming piece of musical theatre. Set in the Great Depression era of 1930s, Annie’s moral of not letting the bad times get you down is at once high-quality entertainment and an injection of optimism in these unpredictable times of global economic woes.

Production values are as high as any big-budget musical, flanking a top-notch and very well-rehearsed ensemble cast of British actors and Singaporean girls. Acting is along the lines of big campy movements, in the style of children’s programmes that we see on TV. Su Pollard played a nasty yet sympathetic Ms Hannigan. As the title-character's hope-to-be adoptive father Oliver Warbucks, David McAlister lived his character well though his singing showed obvious signs of discomfort, and Katie Howard as Annie, although pre-adolescent in age, played the part with all the skill, finesse and charisma of a veteran actress. Her voice showed a little hoarseness, perhaps as a result of opening night jitters and the tiring media call earlier in the day, but she nonetheless had the technique and preparation to pull off the big and long sings while performing intricate chorography and stagework at the same time.

The cast of orphans, consisting of British and Singaporean girls aged between 9 and 13, were most impressive in their teamwork. At no point was there a “UK vs SG" sentiment, at least not any that I can detect. 6 year-old Chloe Choo stole the show by dancing along and saying her lines perfectly in time with colleagues much bigger in age and size than her.

Nonetheless, neither a big budget nor the most talented cast can create a classic without a quality, relatable script and songs at its core. I believe that the world-wide success of Annie is due to its wide-eyed optimism that strikes a chord with many folks bogged down by the world’s troubles. One can’t help but chuckle at the scene where President Roosevelt orders his cabinet to take a break from their meeting of world affairs to sing a chorus of Tomorrow, before resuming their discussion with renewed optimism. So too will the audience sing along to the many refrains of this classic song when leaving the Sands Theatre with renewed hope in their hearts.

Annie is currently running till 4 August 2012. Check out the Events Page for tickets.

Broadway Meets Opera - 29 Sep 2012

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Our own correspondent Hawk Liu will stage a concert with his on 29 September 2012, 2 shows at 3pm and 8 pm at the Arts House Living Room. Tickets will be on in due time, do come and support!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

New Opera's "L'elisir d'amore" - This Weekend

Just a reminder that New Opera Singapore's production of L'elisir d'amore opens this weekend (tomorrow!). We haven't got any new features regarding this production but if you haven't read our previous exclusives, perhaps you may like to catch-up on them here:

Time Out Singapore feature on Jeong Ae-Ree and leading man David Charles Tay

Our interview tidbits with the same fellas above:

And our 13 February 2012 interview with La Jeong where we set out to discuss the company's Opera in the Classroom performance but ended up talking way too much on the L'elisir production instead:

Get your tickets at the Events Page!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Mad Scene on SingTel NewsLoop

I am extremely proud to announce that The Mad Scene is now a syndicated content provider of SingTel's new service NewsLoop, a free iPad app that coallates the latest news from over 1,500 content providers from local, regional and international news sources and niche topic bloggers like us. Here's an introduction to what NewsLoop is about:

Here's another video where my (ahem...) new and more-established colleagues share their thoughts on this new service:

When this project takes off, opera and classical music producers will find a much wider audience through coverage on The Mad Scene, so consider this a triumph for all of us. You can also find more information on their official website Better yet, just download NewsLoop for free on iTune now and try out it for yourself!

Interview with Darius Tan and Seong Hui-Xuan (La Cage)

I interviewed Darius Tan and Seong Hui-Xuan during the La Cage aux Folles media call with the intention of transcribing it in writing as I usually do, but we had such a fun time doing it that it would seem a waste to have their words in writing without bringing their personalities across. So I'm just going to upload my scratch tape, warts and all. So please excuse the untimely fire-alarm siren, reminders from the PR lady and my blubbering attempts at being Barbara Walters. Meanwhile, I believe there's still much to enjoy:

Darren Tan: seated, Seong Hui-Xuan: right, Karen Seah on the left.
Publicity and media call pics can be viewed on our Facebook Page La Cage aux Folles runs from 20 July (this coming Friday) to 4 August 2012. Visit the Events Page for ticketing information.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

"Stories from the Garden" - a Recital by Brendan Keefe Au

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After a series of successful collaborations, Brendan-Keefe Au goes solo this time in a botanic-themed recital entitled Stories from the Garden, with a programming consisting of German masters Schubert, Mozart, Mahler plus English, Italian and French numbers. Hye-Soon Choi accompanies on the piano. Full programme and ticketing info are available at his website!stories-from-the-garden.

Virginia Zeani and Placido Domingo in "Manon Lescaut"

This clip of Virginia Zeani and Placido Domingo singing the finale of Manon Lescaut is one of my favourite things on YouTube. And if have no idea what they are singing about, how about catching the live performances that will open on 31 August 2012 in Singapore to find out?

Monday, July 16, 2012

Free Barenboim-Beethoven Documentary on iTunes

Sometimes the circumstances behind a performance is just as or even more fascinating than the performance itself. This documentary charts the recordings and performances of the complete Beethoven symphonies by Daniel Barenboim's East Western Divan, an ensemble that consists of young Isreali and Arab players. Such a set-up might sound like a recipe for trouble, but with such a strong and charismatic personality as Barenboim at the helm its a premise for something good to happen, though I'm not quite sure what that is specifically. And if anything can bring about world peace, it is the spiritual and revolutionary music of Beethoven. The movie is downloading on my iTunes right now, you can download it for yourself here:

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Interviews with "Annie" Cast Members David McAlister and Katie Howard

If you haven't already seen this on our Facebook Group, Hawk continues with David McAlister who plays Oliver Warbucks. Prior to headlining our MBS Theatre, David has spent time in Covent Garden's Royal Opera House playing a non-singing role together with Angela Gheorghiu and Placido Domingo. Hawk quizzes him about that:

Katie Howard, one of three actresses who will be playing Annie, discusses life between theatre rehearsals, studies and just doing kids stuff:

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Annie Exclusives on The Mad Scene

Hawk and I attended the media call and opening night last evening, fantastic show with colourful sets and costumes, fantastic songs, great foreign and local talent and lots of heart. Our Facebook page carries an exclusive interview with Su Pollard, conducted by Hawk Liu. A review is in the works, meanwhile please check out our Facebook Group page to see the interview and the first batch of our own production photos (more to come in due time).

Annie runs till 5 August 2012, check out the Events Page for tickets.

"Chi disprezza gli infelici" by Rossini

From the pen of Rossini: "For the opera Ciro in Babilonia (1812) I had a horrible seconda donna. Not only was she ugly beyond all description, but her voice too was without any dignity. After the most careful testing, I found that she had a single note, the middle B flat, which didn't sound too bad. I thereupon wrote an aria in which she had to sing just that note. I set it all in the orchestra, and as the piece was liked and applauded, my unitonal singer was delighted with her triumph."

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Virgin Attempt at Buying from SG iTunes

Starting from last week or so we Singaporeans are finally able to buy from iTunes with our SG-issued credit and debit cards. So I decided to hop onto the Apple bandwagon and attempt to purchase Anna Netrebko's Live from the Met CD album. If you are curious to try but are not sure how to, here's a step-by-step series of sreengrabs to help you figure it out (click on any of the images below to enlarge for clarity):

Step 1: Open up iTunes programme. If you haven't already had it installed you can download it for free at

Step 2: Select "iTunes Store" on the left column. You should see an exciting array of ads for downloads of music, movies, ebooks and podcasts. Type in the recording you are looking for in the toolbar on the top right corner. Alternatively you can simply type in an artist's or work's name and browse through the selection that the system offers:

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Jeong Ae-Ree and David Charles Tay on Time Out Singapore

This month's classical page features Jeong Ae-Ree and David Charles Tay, discussing the challenges of  running New Opera Singapore, the delights of Donizetti's comedic masterpiece (running 20 to 22 July) and that unfortunate incident.

Check out the Events Page for ticketing details!

Anna Netrebko Tries Out Il Trovatore

I love this stunning clip of Anna Netrebko performing the complete Tower Scene of Trovatore Act 4. Sumptuous voice, superb technique and detailed acting, and it certainly helped to have Jonas Kaufmann fill-in for Manrico's lines in the Miserere chorus as well. One hopes that she will attempt to sing the full role of Leonora in the future.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lao Jiu 《老九》The Musical

Check out this fantastic trailer for Theatre Practice's upcoming musical adaptation of Kuo Pao Kun's classic play Lao Jiu (老九). This current run is supposedly a completely different work from the 2005 musical adaptation, a completely new reinterpretation of the original play instead of upgrading the first musical attempt. Project Superstar and Taiwanese One Million Superstar alum Sugie (潘嗣敬) plays the title character and indie princess Inch Chua is the female lead. Lim Kay Siu, Marcus Chin and Shi Xin-Hui (石欣卉)form part of the star-studded cast. Our own tenor extraordinaire Lim Shieh Yih even chips in as vocal coach!

Here's more info from their press release:

“One of Kuo Pao Kun’s widely accessible works, Lao Jiu touches many hearts because of its captivating theme - the pursuit of one’s dream.”
Lianhe Zaobao

Kuo Pao Kun Festival 2012

Lao Jiu: The Musical
A Boy. A Dream. A Choice.

Original script by: Kuo Pao Kun
Script Adaptation: Liu Xiaoyi
Director: Kuo Jian Hong
Associate Director & Choreographer: George Chan
Composer: Eric Ng
Lyricist: Xiaohan
Arranger: Bang Wenfu
Puppet Design: Benjamin Ho (Paper Monkey Theatre)

Lao Jiu is one of Kuo Pao Kun’s most popular and accessible works. In 2005, Lao Jiu was adapted into a dazzling musical for the first time, and this year it will be restaged as an entirely new creative production to be rolled out featuring an exciting new lineup of performers and creative collaborators!

As the only son in the family, Lao Jiu (the ninth born) realises that he should grasp the prestigious scholarship opportunity that has opened up for him; yet, he hesitates at the critical junction of attaining the academic prize. Where his passion lies instead is in mastering the traditional art of puppetry. Will Lao Jiu persist in pursuing his dream, or will he continue upon the well-trodden scholarly path? Caught in between what his heart dictates and what his family desires, what decision will he make?

About Kuo Pao Kun Festival 2012- In Search of Kuo Pao Kun
2012 marks the tenth anniversary of Kuo Pao Kun’s passing. Perhaps best known for pioneering and developing multicultural themes in his body of works, Kuo’s humanistic ideals, integrated into his brand of theatre continue to rouse and inspire theatre-makers today. This festival is open to all who share our passion; beyond honouring him, we wish to explore our intricate relationship with Kuo Pao Kun a decade later.

Lao Jiu: The Musical
Premium Package
Price: $159
1. A pair of top tier tickets valued at $68 (includes $3 sistic fee per ticket)
2. An exclusive EP
3. A copy of Kuo Pao Kun: and love the wind and rain (retail price: $25)
4. Two copies of autographed show programmes

For more information, please visit SISTIC website or call SISTIC hotline +65 63485555

The Little Rascals workshop (age 4-9)
Drops your kids off at our workshop and pick them up after the show! Activities include story-telling and theatre games! Open to ticket holders of 22 July show. Fee: $10/ child.
Call +65 6337 2525 to register.

So will Lao Jiu get to fulfill his dreams of becoming a puppet performer? Get tickets from the Events Page to find out!

And speaking of singing puppets....

W!LD RICE‘s "La Cage aux Folles"

Ivan Heng appears shows off another series fabulous gowns in W!LD RICE's localised production of La Cage aux Folles. It looks set to be a no-holds-barred song and dance extravaganza that I personally can't wait to check it out:


Cast :
Ivan Heng as Albin
Tony Eusoff as George
Hossan Leong as Jacob
Tan Kheng Hua as Jacqueline
Darius Tan as Mr D.D. Tan
Karen Tan as Mrs D.D. Tan
Judee Tan as the Kopitiam Aunty
Andrew Lua as the Kopitiam Uncle
Brendon Fernandez as Francis
Aaron Khaled as John
Seong Hui Xuan as Anne

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES, Broadway’s most fabulous musical comedy, arrives on our shores this July in a divine new production by Singapore’s sexiest theatre company, W!LD RICE. Boasting an international cast, spectacular sets, lavish costumes, snazzy dance routines and truly heartwarming songs, this boisterous and uplifting musical is a grand celebration of family and love.

With director Glen Goei at the helm, this 11 time Tony award winner will be given a total
makeover in the inimitable W!LD RICE style. By his side and leading a powerhouse cast of 22
performers, Ivan Heng plays Albin, an aging cabaret star plagued by mid-life insecurity. Following the success of Emily of Emerald Hill, this new collaboration between the two theatre doyens promises to raise the bar yet again.

WILD RICE is proud to present two of Malaysia’s finest musical theatre talents, Tony Eusoff and Aaron Khaled. Making their Singapore debuts with LA CAGE, the pair will play the lead roles of George (Albin’s partner) and John (George’s son). Supporting them and providing much of the musical’s comic relief is a lineup of Singapore’s best: Hossan Leong, Karen Tan, Darius Tan, Tan Kheng Hua, Brendon Fernandez and Judee Tan.

No musical is complete without a singing and tap dancing chorus line. 13 tall, beautiful, feisty and rather dangerous showgirls known as Les Cagelles have been cast from Singapore, Malaysia, Philippines, Hong Kong, Australia, U.S.A and the United Kingdom. Audiences are in for a treat with this dynamite bunch as they set the stage alight with their pizzazz.

LA CAGE AUX FOLLES guarantees to be nothing short of high-camp fabulousness as Goei has assembled a creative team of individuals who are at the top of their fields. With musical direction by Elaine Chan, choreography by Lisa Keegan, sets by CK Chia, lighting by Mac Chan, costumes by Frederick Lee, hair by Ashley Lim and makeup by Beno Lim, LA CAGE is set to be the most dazzling and highly anticipated theatrical event of 2012!

Almost 30 years since it first premiered on Broadway, LA CAGE AUX FOLLES remains as
relevant today as it ever was with its themes of family, love, acceptance and being true to one’s self. Featuring a glorious score of memorable songs (including I Am What I Am and The Best of Times), LA CAGE is undoubtedly a musical comedy classic and W!LD RICE’s extraordinary new version will show you why!


Want to experience the show in all its fabulousness? Check out the Events Page for ticketing details!

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Interview with Andrew Xiao and Elaine Su Yiwen

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Living with George F. Handel stars the Basso Canaries, Andrew Xiao and myself, Steven Ang, as well as soprano Elaine Su Yiwen and pianist Beatrice Lin. You've read enough of my ramblings on this blog already, so here's an introduction to my two other singing colleagues. Andrew Xiao is a graduate from the Singapore Raffles Music College, studying under William Lim, while Elaine hails from China, is currently a student at NAFA and winner of their faculty's singing competition, and is a student of Lim Shieh Yih. Here's a quick chat with the two:


The Mad Scene: Thank you for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, tell us why did you choose Handel for a recital programme?

Andrew: George Frideric Handel is one of the most important composers in the Baroque era. The idea of choosing Handel crossed my mind after I had the Feb 6th concert this year (Living With The Basso Canaries). Later on, when I met my vocal teacher Mr. William Lim for a cup of coffee, he asked me what I want to do for this coming August 6th concert, I asked him what he thought of doing a full Handel programme, he said was a good idea and that is how this recital came about.

Also, the Baroque period is a period where you can find the births of vocal genres such as opera, cantatas; oratorios etc, so why not dedicate a programme to this repertoire? Interestingly, the year 1685 in the Baroque period marked the birth of 3 great Baroque composers, namely Domenico Scarlatti, J.S Bach and of course, our George F. Handel.

Elaine: For me, I feel that Handel is a great master of the Baroque era and his musical legacy should not be forgotten. Also most vocalists put a lot of focus on other masters in other periods such as Verdi, Mozart and Puccini. Since the Baroque period is such an important time in the development of music, we should remember Handel for what he has done during this period; therefore we are staging this recital to remember him by.

Andrew Xiao

The Mad Scene: What will you be for us singing that evening?

Andrew: For this recital, I will be singing Revenge, revenge Timotheus Cries from Alexander’s Feast, also known as the The Power of Music. Alexander’s Feast is specially written for the St. Cecilia’s Day which falls on November 23rd.

I will be also be singing Tu se il cor in questo core from Giulio Cesare in Egitto (Julius Cesar in Egypt). In this opera aria taken from Act 1, my role is an Egyptian general Achilla who is madly in love with Cornelia, widow of Roman general Pompey.

Elaine: I will be singing So shall the lute and harp awake from Handel’s oratorio Judas Maccabeus and two duets, Che vai pensiero folle pensier with Chunyuan and Caro, Bella from Giulio Cesare in Egitto, Act III with Steven (you!)

Andrew: According to Google Translate, the meaning of "Che vai pensiero, folle pensier" in English is apparently "What goes thinking is thoughtfully mad". So if you are asking me which aria or song to watch out for, this is the one cos it‘s mad!

The Mad Scene: Which are your favourite Handel operas or oratorios, and why?

Andrew: I think that Handel composed a lot of operas and oratorios during his lifetime and all these works are very beautifully written. As for which is my favourite Handel vocal work, I think Messiah is one of them. Especially the Hallelujah Chorus!

Elaine: My favourite Handel opera is Giulio Cesare in Egitto because it has a lot of beautiful music and arias that are very suitable for me to perform. As for the oratorios, I love the music from Messiah especially the Hallelujah Chorus, very famous number.

Elaine Su Yiwen

The Mad Scene: Which are your favourite CDs/DVDs of Handel’s music?

Andrew: I really do not have many Handel CDs, but I will recommend Handel Arias by Bryn Terfel.

Elaine: I have a CD called Best Handel 50. It consists of 3 compact discs that contains great opera arias, orchestral, instrumental and vocal masterpieces. It is really worth the price of purchase because it has lots of classics.

The Mad Scene: Who are your favourite opera singers? Why?

Andrew: I do not have a particular favourite opera singer, however I do listen to the 2 Thomas’s: Thomas Allen and Thomas Hampson, as well as Bryn Terfel.

Elaine: I have so many favourites! Firstly, Anna Moffo for her excellent bel canto technique and performance skills. Also New Zealander soprano, Kiri te Kanawa, she whose beautiful lyric soprano is very famous; I wish I will be like her some day. Besides these two, there is also Maria Callas whose voice is so angelic and of course Freni whose technique is the best. Lastly Montserrat Caballe whose interpretation skills are wonderful.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why we should all come and attend Living with George F. Handel?

Elaine: The repertoire that we chose to perform are great Handel classics; if you want to improve your understanding of classical music and especially the music of the Baroque, this concert is the one that you should attend!

Andrew: If you are a beginner in Baroque music, Handel suits you best because Handel is a beginner’s guide to Baroque music. Also we have lined up excellent arias and especially the chamber duet, che vai pensiero,folle pensier which is very rarely sung, so there’s something even for seasoned listeners too!


Living with George f. Handel is on 6 August 2012. Tickets are now available at the Arts House Box Office. You can also email to book online. 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Jennifer Larmore's Lady Macbeth (Part II)

An interested reader sent this to me, another clip of Jennifer Larmore's opening scene of Lady Macbeth, but this time in much clearer sound. Plus we also get to hear the spoken letter reading at the beginning. No video, but there are quite a few nicely taken photos of the lady in action. Check it out:

Coca-Cola Hotpot

An example of American-influenced junk-on-junk food (deep-fried Snickers bars anyone?), Coca-Cola hotpot is exactly what it sounds: a hearty serving of meat and veg with boiled Coca-Cola as a soup base. Thing is, as the waitress told me, that the flavour of the soft drink alone is not sufficient enough to lend any flavours, we are told to mix it up with a secondary soup base, which they offer a wide variety including South-east Asian laksa, Thai tom yam, milk from Hokkaido and what I chose: American cheese. 

click to enlarge
After boiling, the fizziness of Coke is all but lost, leaving behind a mild sweetness, which the cheese lent a thickened texture. The sweetness also permeates the food, including the cabbage, variations of fish cakes and meats. Quite an unusual experience, not sure if I would go again but worth checking out just for the novelty of it.