Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Opera in the Park 2013 (free concert, 15 June) + Interview with Su Yiwen

 Opera in the Park returns this coming Saturday with a cast of new and old faces including Soprano Su Yiwen, mezzo-soprano Anna Koor, alto Azura Farid, tenor Melvin Tan and baritone William Lim. We speak to China-born Su Yiwen about the upcoming concert, why she chose to come to Singapore and the success she has received here.

The Mad Scene: Good afternoon Yiwen, thanks for doing this interview with The Mad Scene! How are you today?

Yiwen: I'm fine, thank you.

The Mad Scene: Firstly, describe your voice to those who have not heard you before.

Yiwen: I'm a lyric soprano with coloratura.

The Mad Scene: what are your favourite pieces to sing?

Yiwen: A lot! Like French chausson Chére nuit, Strauss's Morgen, and some arias by Mozart. I would also like to sing Sempre Libera from La Traviata one day, but my voice is still too young for it.

The Mad Scene: So how long have you been in Singapore?

Yiwen: 4 years.

The Mad Scene: What is your opinion of the opera/classical music scene here (compared to China maybe)?

Yiwen: It's more traditional

The Mad Scene: What got you interested in singing?

Yiwen: Because I'm interested in opera, as it allows me to act and sing at the same time. When I watch opera I'm excited.

The Mad Scene: At what age did you start singing? And why did you want to learn singing?

Yiwen: I started at 8 years old. Actually my mum likes singing so she forced me to learn. After that I found that when I'm singing I'm very happy and relaxed. I actually started my classical music journey after I came to Singapore.

The Mad Scene: What made you decide to come to Singapore?

Yiwen: My dad just asked to me try the audition of NAFA for fun, and I'm surprised I got in. So I came to Singapore!

The Mad Scene: The audition was in China?

Yiwen: Yup.

The Mad Scene: so you only started singing classical music when you came to Singapore?

Yiwen: Actually I started when I was 16 years old.

The Mad Scene: how old are you now (if you don’t mind my asking)?

Yiwen: I will be 23 in the end of this year.

The Mad Scene: What have you learnt here that you wouldn’t be able to learn in China otherwise?

Yiwen: Here the environment is more western, more professional, so the repertoire is more reasonable.

The Mad Scene: Professional in what way? The standard of teaching?

Yiwen: Yup, about academic matters, such as music history and music analysis

The Mad Scene: I see. How about singing technique? any differences in teaching that is different from the China-style?

Yiwen: I can only speak from my own experience, but compared to my singing teacher in China, the breathing technique is different.

The Mad Scene: When you first came to Singapore, did you have a difficult time adjusting to live and classes here? What are the challenges you faced?

Yiwen: The most challenging thing I need to face is adapting to the language here which is English. As most of the classes are being taught in English here in Singapore, I could not really understand many academic matters because these things have never been taught to me before.

The Mad Scene: What advice would you give to other students from China who want to study music in Singapore?

Yiwen: I would like to advice them to have a stronger command of English and to be more independent. Studying in Singapore can be tough for a foreigner especially for people from China, because there are so many things that they have to get used to, not only adjusting to the environment but also regarding to academic matters. They should not give up easily, instead they need to be more courageous in facing these difficulties.

The Mad Scene: Your singing career in Singapore seems to be taking off really well even though you are still a student, are you surprised at all the opportunities you have received so far?

Yiwen: Yes! I really appreciate the people who have helped, supported and encouraged me. I need thank my late beloved teacher Mr. Lim Shieh-Yih and my recent teacher Jessica Chen for their help and support.

The Mad Scene: nervous about Opera in the Park?

Yiwen: Yes, but more excited! it's my first time singing in a concert with a live orchestra!

The Mad Scene: what are your favourite pieces in the programme that you are most looking forward to sing to the audience?

Yiwen: I like all my songs but my favorite one is the Flower Duet. It's a lovely duet with a nice melody, and if the singers' voice can match together it will be pretty nice!

The Mad Scene: The hot and humid Singapore weather is not really helpful for maintaining a glamorous opera singer image. Have you planned any strategies to keep your hair and make-up fresh on that day? Thought about what to wear?

Yiwen: Not yet. But it's true I need to think about it, in case that I will become a clown on the stage!

The Mad Scene: well you have sung with the SLO many times in the chorus and small roles, do you enjoy working with the company? Why?

Yiwen: Yes I enjoyed working with them a lot. They have a very professional crew and organisation, and they provide a lot of opportunities for young singers.

The Mad Scene: What other performances do you have coming up besides Opera in the Park?

Yiwen: I have another performance on 26th June in esplanade recital studio, its called Symphony of Motherhood.

The Mad Scene: ah! You’re singing that? What is the recital about?

Yiwen: It’s a concert meant to celebrate pregnancy and childbirth. When women are pregnant they can listen to classical music and play classical music to the baby. After they give birth they also ask their babies to listen even learn.

The Mad Scene: what will you sing there?

Yiwen: I will be singing Chere nuit, Brahms's lullaby and a Chinese pop song.

The Mad Scene: I see. Well thanks so much for your time Yiwen, have a good show at the Botanic Gardens!

Yiwen: Thank you very much!

Opera in the Park is on this Saturday 15 June 2013, 6pm. Admission is free. More information including programme available here: 

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