Thursday, January 31, 2013

Interview with Israel Lozano

Because the Singapore Lyric Opera's new production of Madama Butterfly is opening tomorrow, here's more information about tomorrow's Pinkerton, followed by an exclusive interview with The Mad Scene:

Tenor Israel Lozano, from Madrid, Spain, started his studies with soprano Emelina Lopez and tenor Alfredo Kraus. Studying at the Superior School of Music and Queen's Superior School of Music in Spain, Mr Lozano made his operatic debut at the age of 22 as Count Almaviva in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia at the National Symphony Auditorium of Madrid. He holds a Graduate Performance Diploma in Opera from Peabody Conservatory where he studied with tenor Dr Stanley Cornett. In 2002/04, he completed the Domingo‐Cafritz Young Artist Program and prepared, covered and sang roles at the Washington National Opera under the artistic direction of Plácido Domingo. Mr Lozano has received support from "La Fundación y Protección del Arte" in Spain.

Lozano sang in a televised gala concert with tenor Plácido Domingo in the Isle of Mainau, Germany, after receiving an unprecedented three prizes (Opera, Zarzuela and Audience Prizes) in the Plácido Domingo International Operalia Competition 2003.

His repertoire includes roles in La Traviata, Manon, L’elisir d’Amore, The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Die Fledermaus, Don Giovanni, La Bohème and Rigoletto, in addition to roles in Zarzuela, a Spanish form of operetta, and he has sung at the Baltimore Opera, Washington National Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Palm Beach Opera, Opera Carolina, Carnegie Hall with the National Symphony Orchestra, Teatro Real in Madrid, Ludwigsburg Festival in Germany, Sarasota Opera, Teatro Liceu of Barcelona, Theater an der Wien in Vienna and Bangkok Opera.

Monday, January 21, 2013

"Voices" by Jayanthi Siva-Lecolley and Michael Corbidge - 1 and 2 Feb 2013

I would like to bring your attention to this production opening on 1 February 2013 at Drama Centre: Voices is a production by local theatre practitioner Jayanthi Siva-Lecolley and British Michael Corbidge, featuring a a cast of artists from many disciplines including the vocalisms of bellepoque diva Sabrina Zuber. More information below:

Jayanthi Siva-Lecolley, Singaporean producer, director and choreographer, together with writer and poet Michael Corbidge, presents VOICES, a dynamic collaboration with 9 other multi-disciplinary artists, coming from Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, the West Indies and Europe, on 1 and 2 February at the Drama Centre, Black Box.


VOICES is an authentic production which explores hybridity with various performing art-forms while integrating traditional and contemporary dimensions, thanks to the presence of 11 artists coming together from very diverse training backgrounds.

Voices is made up of several short journeys, which will be weaved together by a thread, that is the poetic text of Michael Corbidge.

Each story explores and presents the respective artist’s personal perspective of identity and realization in response to the concept of voice. On this collaborative platform, these professionals play and devise their ideas, together with director Jayanthi, and take on the challenge of juxtaposing surrealism and naturalism on the same stage.

The stories told are about a woman whose voice is lost due her circumstances, a man and his encounter with the voices that are judging him, a young man and his head full of voices from the past, present, future and his dead wife, a ‘clairvoyant’ woman confused by the voices she hears and the voice of a Mother and the cries she hears.

A segment of Voices has been invited to both The Castlemaine State Festival and Queesnland University of Technology in March 2013.

The Cast
The uniqueness of this production is the involvement of a multi-disciplinary and multi-ethnic cast, with artists coming from Singapore, Australia, Malaysia, the West Indies and Europe. Voices adds an additional layer of diversity with the inclusion of various languages in the performance, including French and Italian.
Conceptualized and directed by Jayanthi Siva-Lecolley (Singaporean), written by Michael Corbidge (British), in collaboration with:
• Bhagya Murthy (Singaporean) – Indian Classical Vocalist
• Sabrina Zuber (PR-Italian) – Opera Singer/Actress
• Pavan J Singh (PR-Malaysian) – Movement Artist/Actor
• Sharon Frese (British) – Actress
• Hayley Gerrard(Australian) – Dancer/Actress
• Quentin Bernard (French) – Actor
• Sara Lenzi – (Italian) Sound Designer
• Marco Galardi (Italian) – Sound Designer
• Bill Fisher (Australian/British) – Technical Director/Lighting Designer

Fast facts

Date: 1 and 2 February 2013

Venue: Drama Centre, Black Box

Time: 1 February: 8pm
2 February: 3pm and 8pm

Duration: 70 minutes (with no intermission)

Ticket price: 25S$ /18S$ (for students with passes, senior citizens and NS men)

available at: Ticket Booth Hotline: 6296 2929

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Interview with Mako Nishimoto

In the first part of our two-part SLO Madama Butterfly exclusive, we bring you an exclusive interview with Japanese soprano Mako Nishimoto, an outstanding young Japanese soprano who will bring her unique take of the role to Singapore. Here's more information about her:

Mako Nishimoto was born in Shizuoka, Japan. From her  childhood,  she  received  training  in  a  wide variety  of  musical  instruments  and  she  completed  her  Bachelor’s  and  Master’s  degrees  in  Vocal 
Performance  at  the  Musashino Academy  of  Music, where she graduated at the top of her cohort. 

Mako  was  First‐Prize  winner  of  the  56th  Student Music  Contest  of  Japan,  and National  Champion of both  the  Tuzuki  Music  Awards  and  the  NHK awards. 

She  has  portrayed  a  variety  of  roles  such  as Susanna in Le  Nozze  di Figaro,  Donna  Anna  in  Don 
Giovanni, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte, Adina in L’elisir d’amore,  Mimì  in  La  Bohème,  Liù  in  Turandot, Angelica  in  Suor  Angelica,  Giorgetta  in  Il  Tabarro,  Nedda  in  Pagliacci,  Térèse  in  Le Mamelles de Tirésias and Micaëla in Carmen

Her  solo  symphonic  repertoire  comprises  major  works  such  as  Vivaldi’s  Gloria, Händel’s  Messiah,  Haydn’s  Missa  in  Augustinis,  Mozart’s  Requiem,  Beethoven’s  9th Symphony, Schubert’s Messe in G‐dur and Mendelssohn’s Lauda Sion

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Julia Lezhneva's 'Alleluia' CD

For some reason I tend to roll my eyes when I hear of another gorgeous, young rising Eastern European opera star. But after giving Julia Lezhneva a chance, I'm more convinced that she is the real thing. After receiving so-so reviews for her debut CD of Rossini opera arias, her follow-up of motets by Mozart, Handel, Vivaldi and Porpora seem more suitable repertoire for her voice: a light sound that is striking in its purity of tone and flexibility throughout her wide vocal range. The baroque orchestra Il Giardino Armonico, famed for accompanying Cecilia Bartoli on her landmark Vivaldi Arias CD among others. Check out the trailer here:

And then, here's a bootleg live recording of her demonstrating just how agile her vocal gymnastics are:

Thursday, January 10, 2013

'Voices of Splendour' with Yuan Chen-Ye, Liang Ning and He Hui

I'm so excited to learn about this upcoming concert on 15 February 2012: three generations of top singers from the Mainland collaborate in a gala concert with our very own SLO Orchestra. He Hui is an up-and-coming international star after having made debuts at the Metropolitan Opera and important houses on Continental Europe, singing such career-defining roles as Aida. 

Liang Ning is of course a familiar face with SLO audiences having sung in their Barber of Seville among others. She is also a regular in the European and American opera scenes. Baritone Yuan Chen-Ye is one of the veterans of Chinese opera stars who paved the way for these young' uns and is a top artist in the Mainland. This concert gives one a retrospective of the rise of Asian artists in the international opera scene. I wouldn't miss it for anything.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Discounted SSO Tickets for Students

The SSO and sponsor now offers tickets to students at only $10! Find out more about their offer here:

Swire-SSO partnership makes concert tickets affordable for all students

The Singapore Symphony Orchestra (SSO) is proud to announce the launch of the Swire-SSO Ticketing Scheme in 2013 which will benefit all primary and secondary school students in Singapore.

The demand for SSO student tickets which are heavily discounted has increased significantly over the years. At the same time, it has been a financial challenge for the SSO to increase the number of subsidised student tickets. Come January 2013, the Swire group will lend its generous support with a $60,000 sponsorship towards the Swire-SSO Ticketing Scheme, so that even more students can enjoy the SSO concerts throughout the whole year at a nominal ticket price of $10.

Says Mr Chng Kai Jin, General Manager of Singapore Symphonia Company Limited: “Over the years the size of our young audience who enjoy live classical performances has grown tremendously. While the SSO is heartened to see that its efforts to nurture young listeners have had a very positive impact, we have been concerned that we would not be able to increase the number of subsidized tickets to more students. We are delighted to welcome the generous support of the Swire group to help young listeners appreciate the best of the Classics. We hope that many of them will grow up to become music lovers and regular concert goers.”

Says Mr Charles Bremridge, Director of John Swire and Sons (Southeast Asia) Pte Limited: “The Swire group is delighted to be able to play a small part in helping to create opportunities for Singapore students, particularly under-privileged students, to enjoy classical music through this Swire-SSO Ticketing Scheme for schools."

With a minimum booking of 20 tickets under the Swire-SSO Ticketing Scheme, primary and secondary school students can not only enjoy the live experience of a full orchestral concert, but also a specially designed music appreciation talk conducted by a music specialist which will enhance the concert experience of the students.

About Swire

Swire is a highly diversified global group. Many of its core businesses can be found within the Asia Pacific region, where traditionally Swire's operations have centred on Hong Kong and Mainland China. Within Singapore, Swire's activities come under both the group's publicly quoted arm, Swire Pacific Ltd, and under parent company John Swire and Sons Limited. It has five major divisions: Property, Aviation, Agribusiness and Food Chain, Marine Services, and Trading and Industrial. For more information, please visit

For more information, please visit

Saturday, January 5, 2013

'Les Misérable' The Movie in Review

As any lover of opera and musical theatre would, I of course was beyond excited to catch the Les Miz movie, which has already opened in Singapore and the USA on Christmas. Unfortunately Christmas is really no big deal for most folks in Taiwan, so it will only open in Feb 2013 to coincide with Chinese New Year, by which time I will be back in Singapore to visit relatives as well as catch the SLO's new Madama Butterfly.

So it seems that life as a jetsetter between these two places has pretty much killed my dreams of watching the movie in a proper movie theatre. So while I'm waiting for the DVD release, I got Hawk to share his thoughts on how the movie fared. Here's his take:

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Singapore Chinese Orchestra Appoints Quek Ling Kiong as Resident Conductor

As informed by the SCO's Press Department:

Singapore, 2 January 2013 (Wednesday) – Quek Ling Kiong has been appointed as Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO)’s Resident Conductor with effect from 1 January 2013. Quek Ling Kiong joined the SCO as Percussion Principal in 1997. His career in professional conducting took off when he became SCO’s first Conducting Assistant in 2003. In 2004, he became SCO’s Assistant Conductor as well as the Conductor for the Singapore Youth Chinese Orchestra (SYCO).

Quek Ling Kiong was appointed as SCO’s Associate Conductor in 2008. During his appointment as an Associate Conductor, he introduced and choreographed many well-received SCO concerts – SCO’s Mother’s Day Concert, Concerts for Children, Community Series concerts, Outdoor Rhapsody, Caring Series concerts, Lunchtime Concerts and SYCO Concerts.

Quek Ling Kiong started learning liuqin from young. After being inspired by his teacher, Cultural Medallion recipient Tay Teow Kiat, he started learning percussion at the age of 13 and this unveiled his talent for the percussion instruments. He started his career in professional conducting after he met the talent scout in his life, Maestro Tsung Yeh, in 2003. He had thought of giving up further studies in professional Chinese music due to financial difficulties but he overcame all challenges and pursued his interest. Today, Quek Ling Kiong is one of Singapore’s best conductors. He said, “Music is a good thing. In my life, I want to share it with others.” He will continue to create good concerts that represent Singapore and culture, with music that people love, cultivate more young music talents and promote the Chinese music in Singapore.

Find out more about the SCO at their official website

How 'Les Miz' Should Not Be Sung

Transposed keys, jazz-ed up orchestrations, a rather sprightly tempo, ornamented high notes and frankly just not enough pathos. These guys wouldn't do the same to Puccini, so why did they inflict their 'improvements' on what is already a masterpiece?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year!

Welcome dear readers to a brand new 2013! Let us leave our troubles behind with the passing year and welcome a new period of possibilities and exciting adventures! Cheers everyone!