Monday, September 30, 2013

Maestro Long Yu Discusses the Shanghai Orchestra Academy

The Shanghai Orchestra Academy is accepting applications for its inaugural school year. It is a collaboration between the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra (SSO), New York Philharmonic and Shanghai Conservatory of Music. I speak to its director, famed Chinese conductor Long Yu, to find out more about this school that promises to train the next batch of top orchestra musicians.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Renee Fleming on David Letterman

Ok some of you may have already seen this on other blogs, but if you haven't, its hilarious!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

[Sponsored Videos] DROPPED: Philippines Official Trailer

Two Europeans get to know each other on a Survival-style challenge on a 'deserted' Filipino island, while ingested lots of Heineken.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

FREE SCO Concert at Hong Lim Park! 12 Oct 2013

SCO Community Concert: Euphonic Folk Tunes
Date: 12 October 2013, Saturday
Time: 7.30pm
Venue: Hong Lim Park
Free admission
Resident Conductor Quek Ling Keong
Assistant Conductor Moses Gay
SPH Gift of Music Series presents SCO Community Concert at Hong Lim Park

Singapore, 13 September 2013 (Friday) – Singapore Chinese Orchestra (SCO) returns to Hong Lim Park on 12 October 2013 to present an evening of international folk tunes to the community! This concert is made possible with the support from Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) under the SPH Gift of Music Series. Admission is free.

Under the baton of Resident Conductor Quek Ling Kiong and Young Assistant Conductor-in-Residence Moses Gay, audience will go on a tour with the SCO on a trip to revisit folk music around the world. Travel to America with Kentucky and Susanna, China with Colourful Jiangnan, Taiwan with Capriccio of Taiwan Folk Tune, Melodic Potpourri which is a medley of favorite pieces including Japanese folk tune Sakura, English folk tune Farandole, our very local Chan Mali Chan, and more. Renowned soprano Zhou Xiaoman will also sing familiar pieces - Tibetan Highlands and Under the Silvery Moon.

The SPH Gift of Music Series has been entertaining Singapore audience since its launch in 2005. Supported by SPH, the popular free concert series has brought music to the community in various locations such as the heartlands, parks, shopping malls, schools, campuses and the Esplanade.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Karen Seah Sings Puccini

Click to enlarge
Soprano Karen Seah will present an evening of Puccini's music on 14 October 2013 at the Arts House. Tickets available at The Arts House box office. Find out more on the official ARrts House website:

Sarah Silverman Sings Perfect Night

Finally, a dance song that best describes a typical Saturday night for me! Well just substitute a box of durians for that bit in the video about YouPorn...

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Introducing Emilio Marcucci and Monica Tarone

Isn't it nice to have friends who are such wonderful singers? Both Emilio Marcucci and Monica Tarone are professional singers on the European circuit, performing leading roles in numerous houses. Monica Tarone in particular is a frequent guest of La Scala, and counts Riccardo Muti, Caudio Abbado and Bryn Terfel as colleagues. Check out these clips of their singing, there's more on YouTube too if you wish to find out more.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Life with Mozart (Media Preview Night) – 17 Sep 2013

As the play begins, a middle-age man in modern clothes walks onstage and opens his lines with “Dear Mozart”. One wonders exactly which milieu are we in: contemporary times or in Mozart’s? Is the Figaro production being described by the unnamed protagonist the premiere production, or just a revival taking place in his neighbourhood opera house?

Things became clearer as the play went on: we are in modern times, and the 'Mozart' that the protagonist was referring to is an abstraction, as one would call out “Dear God”, only that this deity responds through music. The entire play reveals itself to be a series of one-sided conversations by the protagonist to the dead composer.

On stage right, a piano quintet (that’s a piano and string quartet for you, in this case the Take 5 Quintet) play arrangements of arias accompanying singers from New Opera Singapore, in addition to performing the appropriate quintet and quartet repertoire whenever the script brings up the piece. Excerpts performed include arias from The Marriage of Figaro, Don Giovanni and The Magic Flute among others.

And so we see how a man of 45 has come to realise the meaning of life through Mozart’s music. From encountering a rehearsal of Figaro as a 15 year-old awkward teenager with suicidal tendencies (wondering if anyone would find his penis attractive), to chancing upon a choral performance while cynically Christmas shopping as a young adult, through difficult times supporting friends and family dying of AIDS among other bittersweet stages of life, Mozart's music has provided much solace and deepened his understanding and appreciation of life.

Monday, September 16, 2013

PsalmiDeo – 'Psalmu’t Sari' - 14 September 2013

The lights dim, a row of singers cupping (battery-operated) tea candles come offstage from the wings and line up both sides of the auditorium. A handful of singers stand in darkness at stage rear. They imitate the rustling sounds of a forest. A single spotlight shines on a lone female soloist who begins the solo part of the soulful Silence My Soul (composed by Rabindrah Tagore Francisco Feliciano).

And so the concert by  PsalmiDeo, the choir of Filipino expats, began with this quiet, atmospheric presentation. After simple introductions by host Timothy Go (yeah, the newscaster from CNA), the choir resume their regular formation: members from each vocal category mixed together for a more integrated sound, presenting their programme entirely memorised and mostly performed without piano accompaniment, occasionally augmented by traditional and Western percussion instruments.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

10 day Singing/Accompaniment Workshop with Graham Johnson in Thailand

Famed lieder accompanist Graham Johnson will be heading to Thailand for an intensive 10 day art song workshop culminating in a live recital. He will also conduct individual masterclasses from 6 to 8 January. The workshop requires THB25,000 (approximately SGD990) of course fees while the masterclass will cost you THB10,000 (approximately SGD396). Here are more details from the administrators:


Please find attached the information and details for the upcoming Winter Journey 2014 Workshop at Hua Hin, Thailand next year. Applications are now officially opened and the deadline will be 30th September 2013. The workshop will begin on the 4th of January and the final concert in Bangkok will be on the 14th of January 2014. Hence, if you are interested, you will need to make sure that you are available from 3rd - 15th of January.

This year, we are privileged to have Graham Johnson as part of this project. For those of you who are interested to have masterclasses with Graham Johnson, you will need to fill out both forms. However, only a selected number of applicants (through an audition process) will be able to perform for him.

Download the application forms here:

Winter Journey workshop application form

Masterclass application form

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

PsalmiDeo's 'Psalmu't Sari' Concert

PsalmiDeo, the choir made up of Filipino expats, stages their annual concert on 14 September 2013. Please call 9235 1378 or email:

Find out more about it at their FB invite page!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Placido Domingo's 'Verdi' Album

Placido Domingo: Verdi

01 - Perfidi! All'anglo contro me v'unite! ... Pieta, rispetto, amore

02 - Pari siamo! ... Io la lingua
03 - Cortigiani, vil razza dannata

Un ballo in maschera
04 - Alzati; la tuo figlio ... Eri tu che macchiavi quell' anima

La Traviata
05 - Di Provenza il mar, il suol

Simon Boccanegra
06 - Abbasso le spade! ... Plebe! Patrizi! ... Popolo dalla feroce storia!
07 - Ecco la spade

08 - E questo il loco
09 - Oh, de' verd'anni miei

Il Trovatore
10 - Tutto e deserto ...
11 - Il balen del suo sorriso
12 - Qual suono!...Oh ciel!....Per me, ora fatale

Don Carlo
13 - Son io, mio Carlo
14 - Per me giunto e il dì supremo
15 - Che parli tu di morte?

La forza del destino
16 - Morir! Tremenda cosa
17 - Urna fatale del mio destino
18 - E s'altra prova rinvenir potessi?

In the year of Verdi's 200th birthday celebration comes this CD of arias from the great Placido Domingo. although the 'B' word doesn't appear anywhere on the cover, what it is is a programme of the composer's greatest baritone arias.

In all appearances, for whatever anyone says about his having sung baritone a century ago as a teenager, this is decidedly a tenor singing in his lower and middle range. The colour is significantly lighter than what we are used to hear in these arias; low notes tend to thin out, while some high notes lack the resonance and high-wire thrill factor that one would expect. Even more discerning is the sense that the singer is making do with whatever voice that is left: certain lines grate with hoarseness, breaths hurriedly snatched in between syllables of a word, and he has a tendency to scoop unmusically from below the pitch. The sound can also become overtly nasal at times.

Dr. Michela Bertagnolli's Vocal Masterclass in KL

Dr. Michela Bertagnolli Febvre returns with accompanist Florian Caroubi for another round of masterclasses in Kuala Lumpur. Check out details below:


We are delighted to have Dr. Michela Bertagnolli Febvre accompanied by Maestro Florian Caroubi back in KL from October 12 – Nov 4 for our production of Carmen by Georges Bizet.

While they are here, we are also arranging to conduct some vocal master classes starting from 28 October till November 3. This time, we will be adding a piano master class with maestro Florian. As we will be busy with the production, we are not able to conduct the master classes any earlier.

Detail of the classes is as follow:

Monday, September 9, 2013

Saturday, September 7, 2013

SLO "La Traviata" 2013 in Review

Hawk attended opening night of the SLO's La Traviata, and weighs in on the production:


Singapore Lyric Opera’s production:
Verdi's La Traviata
6 September 2013
Esplanade Theatre, Singapore
Violetta Valery – Nancy Yuen
Alfredo Germont – Kota Murakami
Giorgio Germont – Song Kee-Chang
Conductor – Joshua Kangming Tan
Director – Stephen Barlow

A Review by Hawk Liu

The curtain opened to a very pretty picture of Violetta’s party with her guests set out nicely in a predominantly white set which was simple and effectively. A white piano featured Violetta sitting on the piano top in an amazing red dress. The wardrobe did a nice job with Violetta. Overall the party (opera) went well. The acting was committed and convincing. The singing was great. Everyone that had a part sang wonderfully, right down to the comprimarios.

Violetta was believable as the young, emotionally fragile courtesan. Her light silvery voice portrays a vulnerable woman. ‘E strano’ came off wonderfully with lots of pianissimos and the final E flat to boot. Alfredo’s total physical acting brought out the personality in the character. I felt the impulsive young man in him, with his unabashed love for Violetta, and also the difficult relationship with his father. He sang with a firm, beautiful tone throughout. The second act aria was sung well with the final high, interpolated high C. No sweat. He gave a single high pianissimo in the last act which I totally enjoyed. The voice reminded me a little of the young Pavarotti’s timbre. Papa Germont had a solid focused tone that was beautiful throughout, whether it be forte or piano, and he did give us many dynamic shades. The long act two Germont-Violetta scene was a joy.

The chorus was great to watch when they did commit to their acting which wasn’t consistent among the actors though. The orchestra did a great job with the music albeit a little too loud in a few places. For example, the act one waltz music before ‘un di felice’ sounded too much in the fore while Violetta and Alfredo seemed like they were singing in the background.

The production sets the action in modern times without being abstract. Mobile phones and tablets were featured in the action. There were many nice touches to the overall design of the production. This was a tender Traviata that had a lot of heart.


The SLO's production of La Traviata runs till 9 September 2013 (no show on 7th). Tickets are available at SISTIC. 

Check out our Facebook Group for more production pictures!

Friday, September 6, 2013

Our Fifth Anniversary!!!

You like my new design? Having used bloody red and scary black in previous looks, I think a little glamour is in order correct? Since madness is the theme of this website, surely some over-the-top effects is not out of place!

We at The Mad Scene are in a celebratory mood, given that we’ve been around for 5 whole years since we made our first post in September 2008! Even though four of these years are largely operated in Taiwan where I’ve been based while studying for a second degree in music, now that I’m done with my studies I plan to head back to Singapore ASAP, in order to greatly expand the capabilities of this website, and bring you our brand of exclusives in the local and regional arts scene that you have come to know from us.

Meanwhile, I hope that The Mad Scene has been of value to you. It has certainly been of value to many arts professionals, many whom offered their congratulations! Scroll down to read them, and feel free to contribute your own in the comments!

SLO's Verdi Gala - 24 October 2013

Even before the Singapore Lyric Opera's new production of La Traviata opens (THIS COMING FRIDAY!!!), they are already planning their next outing: an all-Verdi tribute at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 24 October 2013. Stars appearing are soprano Jessica Chen, mezzo Anna Koor, and Australians Jason Wasley (Tenor)and Christopher Hillier (baritone). Darrell Ang will lead the SLO Orchestra and Chorus. Here's more information:

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

My First Peter Grimes

(Wikipedia page of the opera here if you are unfamiliar with this opera but want to know it better.)

What's cockney English for 'OMG seriously creeped out'!?! Who are the people who once criticised Benjamin Britten for being 'too melodic'? And where harmonies go are parallel seconds now the new parallel thirds?

Suffice to say, the music takes some getting used to; it really calls for quite a bit of patience for the audience's ears to adjust. But then the story starts to get really compelling, and you don't really know whether to sympathise with the increasingly deranged protagonist or side with the gossiping villagers for attempting to call him out.

Music wise, the composer is a genius at creating tension through pacing, unsettling rhythms and unrelentingly eerie harmonies. He is wonderful at composing for large forms, as can be heard from the many scenes where over a dozen vocal soloists, chorus and orchestra build up what started as a simple accompanied dialogue to a full fortissimo passage, yet so many different instrumental and vocal colours, melodies and textures can be heard clearly even at its loudest. What an embarrassment of riches!

And then there's Grime's mad scene, or rather, mad scenes! I shall not go into detail in case you want to check it out yourself, but in the right performer's hands (and Peter Langridge is just unbelievably compelling in the part), is musical declamation at its best. This opera is certainly not for casual popcorn viewing, but is worth the time and emotional investment if you are ever so keen to go along for the ride.

Now let's get back to the always reliable Joan Rivers, because I really need a laugh!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

FREE SSO Concert at Kranji Racecourse!

Join the Singapore Symphony Orchestra as they cheer on the stable of racehorses with a free concert! Here's more information:


Joshua Tan and the SSO at the Singapore Racecourse (Kranji)

Join Joshua Tan and the SSO at the Singapore Racecourse (Kranji) on September 14 as they perform familiar favourites such as Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Suppé’s Light Cavalry Overture and Shostakovich’s Ballet Suite No. 1. Children may look forward to receiving free balloon sculptures and photo-taking with friendly Singapore Turf Club mascots Racer and Clover!

SSO @ The Racecourse is a community project the SSO to reach out to Singaporeans from all walks of life and is supported by the Singapore Turf Club. Gates open from 6.30pm. Concert is subject to prevailing weather and environmental conditions. Complimentary parking is available from 6pm at the Singapore Racecourse.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Echo Philharmonic Society Presents "Under the Silky Moonlight"

Well this concert has performances from a local soprano, a tenor from abroad and three live choirs, plus piano accompaniment from one of the country's most popular pianist; isn't that everything? Click on the poster above to find out how to get tickets!