Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Gramophone Hall of Fame 2013

Gramophone is getting your thoughts on who to induct into their Hall of Fame this year. You get 10 votes out of a huge list of conductors, instrumentalists and of course, singers! Don't bother searching out for Callas though because she has already been inducted eons ago. My votes went to Mackerras, Caballe, Tito Gobbi and Renee Fleming among others. You can chip in your own two cents here:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

New Opera's Opera Comique: at the Airport

New Opera's humorous Opera Comique series returns with At the Airport! Check out their press info here:


Opera Comique is back with its third installment . at the Airport! This opera-styled Glee tells the story of what happens when 8 people from different countries and backgrounds converge at a local airport.

The story explores how a four guys experience love as they meet 4 different and beautiful ladies. Will Joo Seng be able to tame reformed party girl Cleo? Will Kay Loh ever get over the painful rejection of is ex girlfriend? Will Glenn ever settle on one girl? And has Derek acquired a taste for something new? One thing is for sure, this visit will be their most challenging and life-changing visit to the airport.

Directed by Robert Jenkin and Written by Goh Ming-Siu. Opera Comique 3 will feature popular arias from La Traviata, Roméo et Juliette, Rigoletto and Don Giovanni.

Shaun Lee
Rebecca Li
Jeremy Koh
Joseph Yap
Moira Loh
Isyana Sarasvati
Bethea How
Lim Jing Jie
Albert Lin (Pianist)

S$25 (Regular) and S$15 (Students and NS Men)


More information on the Events Page. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

[Sponsored Video] Monkey Thieves!!!

Don’t you love monkeys? They are so cute and adorable until they steal every last bit of food from your brand new Samsung refrigerator. It doesn’t help that the new features make it so easy for just about anyone to take things out and keeps food so deliciously fresh. What makes the Samsung refrigerator such an innovation? These three features show why it is superior to the one you currently have at home:

Delivering optimal freshness and unmatched convenience

No other refrigerator assures maximum freshness like the new Bottom Mounted Freezer. A CoolSelect zone lets users control the temperature of each compartment with a simple-touch button display, maximising freshness and allowing the space to be multi-purpose, allowing both vegetables and meat fresher to be kept longer. Among these innovative features is MoistFresh Zone, which controls the air circulation to maintain the most ideal humidity levels, creating an environment that can store vegetables and fruit freshly for a long time. The refrigerator’s Easy Slide shelf also makes large amounts of healthy fruits and vegetables accessible to the user. Additionally, a digital inverter compressor maintains perfect freshness by automatically adjusting its speed to internal and external condition. No Frost Technology prevents ice buildup inside the freezer and prevents water drop formation in the refrigerator that can leave stains.

Maximum organization with no wasted space

An Easy Slide shelf smoothly slides out to make easy storing and removal of groceries more efficient, without wasting space deep inside the drawer. In a regular refrigerator, the drawer’s small entrance does not allow the user to easily place large items. But a Full Open Box in the new Bottom Mounted Freezer can be pulled out fully so you can store and take out large food items easily without any unused space. The Full Open Box can be pulled out so that every corner can be used and easily remove large and bulky stuff. A wider and deeper Big Guard door shelf allows you to store big and tall bottles – great for large parties (such as CNY gatherings) that require many types of beverages. Now you can make the most of your refrigerator’s space with Samsung’s new Bottom Mounted Freezer.

Superior digital inverter technology improves energy efficiency

The new Bottom Mounted Freezer features Samsung’s superior digital inverter compressor that improves energy efficiency and cooling performance by automatically adjusting across five speeds of RPM in response to cooling demands. Whether due to frequent door openings, outside temperature changes or a hot plate of food, the compressor reacts fast to provide cold air or slow down to reduce unnecessary energy consumption.

This bunch of monkeys demonstrates how easy it is to take things out of the new Samsung refrigerator:

Find out more on Samsung’s Website or follow Samsung on Youtube.

Sponsored by Samsung

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Plays: 8 Women and For Better of For Worse

While The Mad Scene doesn't usually feature spoken plays, its quite a slow news day on the opera/vocal front, plus the rare occasion that I'm free to update it today, so here's information on two upcoming plays that you might be keen to catch:

8 Women by Sing'theatre:

A murder‐mystery play turned into a critically acclaimed movie of the same name with Catherine Deneuve.

Embark on a journey that explores the depths of the female psyche: seduction, love, hate, resentment, anger, despair, tenderness and jealousy. This production captures it all!

Set in France in the 1950’s, in a country mansion a few days before Christmas, the man of the house is found murdered! But who could have “dunnit”?

Isolated from the rest of the village it could only be one of the 8 women in the household. Was it his powerful and beautiful Singaporean wife (Tan Kheng-Hua), with a knife? His spinster sister‐in‐law (Serene Chen), with poison? His miserly mother‐in‐law (Neo Swee-Lin), with a rope? Or maybe it’s the seductive French chambermaid (Morgane Stroobant) or the devoted Indian housekeeper (Daisy Irani), with a pillow? The perfect elder daughter (Sophie Wee) and the playful younger one (Julia Abueva) are not beyond suspicion either. A surprise visit from the victim's sister (Kimberly Creasman) sends the household into more confusion!

As events unfold, we discover each woman has a motive, each a plan, and someone is hiding the biggest secret of all…Murder!

This murder‐mystery dark comedy, directed by multi award‐winner Samantha Scott‐Blackhall (Freud’s Last Session, Lord of the Flies, The Physicists), will keep you entertained and guessing till the very, VERY end!

(Ed: note that unlike the movie version mentioned above, there won't be any singing in this theatrical presentation, not that the whining from the movie's cast can be considered singing anyway.)


Checkpoint Theatre's For Better or For Worse:

Checkpoint Theatre is proud to present its first production for the year 2013 with For Better or For Worse by Faith Ng!

Directed by Claire Wong and starring Jean Ng and Julius Foo, For Better or For Worse is a poignant and provocative portrait of a marriage made in Singapore. It performs at the Drama Centre Black Box from 20 to 24 March 2013. Early bird promotions are available until 17 February 2013, and there is a Facebook photo contest for photos that capture the meaning of the enduring phrase "For Better or For Worse".

For Better or For Worse also marks and celebrates the launch of Checkpoint Theatre's Associate Artists scheme.In addition, our For Better or For Worse Facebook Photo Contest continues to run till next Friday, 22 Feb. Top prizes include SpaBoutique voucher and a Thalion Cosmetics Skincare set worth $250. This is a chance not to be missed!


Ticketing information available on the Events Page.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

"Voices of Splendour" on Youtube

Breaking news: Liang Ning has injured her leg and thus cancelled her appearance. Zhu Hui-ling, another promising young Mainlander making waves in Europe, will replace her:

Here's a clip of He Hui singing Aida at the Arena di Verona:

But really where would all these newbies be if not for the work of their predessesors? So here's an example of how senior veteran Yuan Chen-ye paved the way:

But really, YouTube videos can hardly replicate the excitement these voices can produce live in person. So be sure to check out Huayi Chinese Arts Festival's Voices of Splendour concert! More information at the Events Page. 

Hearing Loss and Musicians

Happy Chinese New Year!

We at The Mad Scene know how much damage those high e-flats can do to our hearing, especially with volume control at full capacity. That's why we are presenting this guide for so that our music-making friends can properly take care of their ears, courtesy of  

More information available at Herzan's website. 

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Some thoughts on the 'Les Miz' Movie

So I was finally able to catch the Les Miz movie! Unlike Singaporeans which got to see it during Christmas, the movie will only open in Taiwan during CNY holidays. Thank goodness there are still theatres screening it here. By now I suppose everyone who has wanted to see it has already done so and have read all the publicity about it: how all the singing is done live, how wonderful Anne Hathaway was and how much Russell Crowe sucked, so I'm not going to write a review, but here are some thoughts that crossed my mind:

1) Victor Hugo wasn't kidding about the 'Miserables' bit, its not 'Les Somewhat Depressed' or 'Les Having a REALLY Bad Day'. No, these characters are truly as miserable as anyone can be!

2) That cup of teh-peng before the movie was not a good idea. I thought I wouldn't miss much if I made a quick trip to the washroom during Drink With Me, only to return and find Hugh Jackman/Valjean halfway through Bring Him Home. Arggh!

3) The musical director and his team deserve every award they can get for creating a coherent musical soundtrack from all that rhythm-free sprechgesang / speech-singing. A lesser accompanist would have had a stroke if his singer were to pull such tricks with the musical lines as they did.

4) It was wonderful in the way that only a movie version of the musical could be, and every bit as heart-rending (bring tissues). Still the production team has pulled every stop to ensure a classic in the making: investing in huge sets, CGI effects and a truly all-star cast: when even the Thenadiers are played by such marquee names as Helena Bonham Carter and 'Borat' Sasha Baron Cohen, you know the creative team is not doing things half-heartedly.

5a) Now I've already shed enough tears at Fantine's tragic fate over the years, so I wasn't going to get all maudlin this time round (Anne Hathaway is fantastic as always even when playing such diverse but equally iconic roles such as Fantine and Catwoman), but what hit me unexpectedly was the new song for Valjean, in which he ponders his new life as an adoptive father to young Cosette while on the run as a fugitive  Also strangely enough, Do You Hear the People Sing got me quite emotional too, the way everyone starts singing simultaneously, a capella, which then builds up into the great anthem that we are all familiar with.

5b) Fantine had to sell her TEETH!?!? Eeewww!!!

6) Grown-up Cosette is such a bimbotic role! Really her purpose to the plot is simply to fall in love with Marius so that Valjean would save him. Huh!?

6) I love the new arrangement to Stars! It has a subtly sinister quality that gave an edge to Jarvert's 'aria' that wasn't in the original. Too bad Russell Crowe had to croon his way through like a choirboy. This was the only misstep in casting but a great one, since we see Jarvert right from the start of the movie/musical. Someone should have told him that being in a band does not necessarily make you a good singing-actor.

7) Prior to watching I've read that Colm Wilkinson makes a cameo appearance, so throughout the movie I kept wondering where he was and whether I have missed it. And there he was at the very last scene, all decked out in religious wear and ready to welcome Hugh Jackman into the hallowed hall of great Valjeans. He has already made two videos and two recordings of his portrayal so I guess he's not even slightly bitter for not being considered this time round. I read that the original Eponine also made an appearance as one of the whores, but since I don't know who she is I don't really care about that (yeah I admit it! Lea Salonga is the original Eponine as far as I'm concerned).

Here's Anne Hathaway promoting Les Miz on talkshow Chelsea Lately, where she discusses how making the film almost drove her husband crazy, and why she said the 'F' word to Daniel Craig:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Off-Broadway Musical - The Last Five Years

This looks like a great minimalist production to check out; an award-winning piece by off-Broadway wunderkind Jason Robert Brown, produced by a new local theatre group Yellow Chair Productions with participation from the composer. Here's more information:

The Last Five Years is a powerful and intimate musical about Jamie (Jonathan Lum) and Cathy (Ethel Yap) who experience the trials and tribulations of falling in and out of love in New York City over the span of five years.

This Drama Desk Award winning musical for Outstanding Music and Lyrics employs a unique storytelling concept of having Jamie telling his story in chronological order while Cathy tells hers in reverse chronological order.

Yellow Chair Productions presents the Singapore premiere of this Off-Broadway musical sensation by Tony Award winning composer, Jason Robert Brown.

Jonathan Lum
Ethel Yap

Mohamad Shaifulbahri

Evening Shows:
Thursday, 14th February - 8pm
Friday, 15th February - 8pm
Saturday, 16th February 8pm

Matinee Shows:
Saturday, 16th February - 3pm
Sunday, 17th February - 3pm

General - $25
Student - $18
Package of 4 General - $88 ($22 per ticket)

We are also having a Special Launch Promotion. A one-time offer of cheaper tickets and it lasts till 1st January 2013!
General - $20
Student - $15

More information available at the Events Page

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

A Chat about the SLO 2013 'Madama Butterfly'

Ah how time flies… it seemed like only yesterday (actually 2004) when I was an innocent young man sobbing away at Nancy Yuen’s portrayal of Butterfly, then only my second experience with the opera (the first was on videotape). Now that I am older and wiser (or just more cynical), the tears just don’t come as fast, but I’m glad to report that this production is an absolute success, with unreserved praise for both leads and the entire cast and crew. So I went online and had a discussion with Hawk, here’s what went down.

(SPOILER ALERT: If you are not familiar with the opera and watching the SLO production is your first experience with it, its best that you skip this review until you’ve seen the show. You can still preview by looking at production pictures on our Facebook Group).