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!


  1. I was there on Saturday. Some thoughts:

    The orchestra was poor from the start: messy and with some ugly tones but improved into mediocrity thereafter. The solo parts were decently taken, e.g. in una furtiva lagrima.

    Nemorino - the Saturday one, I understand the roles were doubled - cracked a note almost immediately in quanto e bella and left me in great apprehension for the rest of the evening. As it happened, he improved dramatically and showed a very pleasing timbre. On the other hand, most of the runs were at least slightly smudged and almost every high note was ducked.

    Adina was I think almost the pick of the cast. She was technically very sound, coasting through much of the coloratura (especially after prendi, per me sei libero) with relative ease. Her voice is silvery and light, almost like a soubrette, and it got lost in the ensemble, but was otherwise very pleasing and secure.

    Dulcamara was the most impressive. His is a proper bass that is still perhaps a few shades too light for the part but that is perhaps normal for students/young professionals. The patter was pitch perfect; more than all these he had that magical something called stage presence, dominating the show whenever he was on. I've always felt l'elisir ended strangely, with dulcamara's reprise tacked on as a coda with seemingly little justification, but this was one time that the conclusion felt just right, so much did he dominate proceedings - not just as a buffa character, but a godfather, rather like alidoro in cenerentola. The only flub was one or two missed cues/forgotten lines in the first act.

    Belcore was rather too light and too often anonymous when he wasn't inaudible. Giannetta (with two n's - the programme notes used both single and double n's) did really well with her small part and seems quite capable of taking a lead role. The chorus was messily if enthusiastically sung. The production was serviceable and the updating to modern times was rather more well done than is usually the case.

    More generally, while it was on the whole a thoroughly enjoyable performance considering the background of the singers and the company, there are some things that i thought were really objectionable.

    1. The SIA theatre at Lasalle is tiny. The orchestra was proportionately down-sized. So there seems no call then to mike up the stage, as I think was done.

    2. There were numerous mistakes both in the programme and in the english translation projected on the screen: grammar, spelling, typos etc. This is quite unforgivable, although as even the SLO is often guilty of such lapses, it may be too much to hope for correctness on this front.

    3. $100 and $80 for top tickets is impossible to justify. No doubt the new company is in need of funds; no doubt there were only two shows; no doubt the theatre is tiny; but there is no call to charge such high prices for what is after all a semi-professional production cast largely from students and junior professionals. I've heard Florez, Machaidze, Damrau - all in l'elisir - for less. I think the poor turnout showed what the public thinks of stealth donations, for that is the most generous construction one may take of the pricing.


  2. Hi cx, thanks for posting, haven't heard from you in a long time!

    Belcore certainly can be heard from where I was sitting, even when he was further upstage where the stage mikes were less effective. He did seem a little subdued compared to his Friday night performance, then again he was jumping in at the last minute to help out a sick colleague, so perhaps we should cut him some slack. I agree with the miking being intrusive although we don't know what the music would have sounded like without it (the theatre might be small but the wide space and carpeted floors might not make for ideal acoustics). I thought the use of projections was quite cleverly done, at times they look even more realistic than the usual hand-painted sets. I do however find it hard to believe that a cleaner would address his CEO by name, much less put the moves on her. But then its bel canto opera so it seems silly to even argue about what's realistic in the first place.


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