Thursday, November 28, 2013

An Interview with Opera Siam Director Somtow Sucharitkul

I got to keep in touch with Opera Siam's maverick artistic director Somtow Sucharitkul, and discuss his upcoming production of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. The production will star Jessica Chen and new Wagnerian Kyu Won-Han in the two lead roles.

To attract out-of-towners to Bangkok (as if we need any special reasons to visit), the team has also came up a special land tour package that includes hotel and gala reception. Here's more info:

Land Tour Package for The Flying Dutchman
Luxury Package
Hotel: Kempinski
2 premium tickets to the gala of THE FLYING DUTCHMAN (value 10,000 baht)
a glass of wine in the intermission
invitation to reception
2 nights of luxury hotel for a couple with breakfast (approx value 20,000 baht)
transportation to the performance
Total value of package approximately 40,000 baht
OUR PRICE: 22,000 baht
Comfort Package
Hotel: Rembrandt
All the same perks as luxury package except hotel:
Value of package - approximately 30,000 baht
OUR PRICE: 18,000 baht
Budget Package
Hotel Ibis
2 nights for 2 persons at budget hotel
other perks the same as other packages
Value of package - approximately 25,000 baht
OUR PRICE 15,500 baht

for further info, write to

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Vox Camerata Presents Benjamin Britten's 'A Ceromony of Carols'

Choir Vox Camerata will present Benjamin Britten's complete A Ceromony of Carols and Poulenc's Four Christmas Motets among other works on 7 December 2013, featuring guest conductor Reuben Lai. Check out their Facebook Invite Page for more details as well as interesting videos about the composer:

re: mix Presents 'I Want to Break Free'

Chamber ensemble re: mix performs a crossover programme featuring transcriptions of Queen, Lady Gaga as well as 'serious' music by Beethoven and John Cage. Tickets available at SISTIC.

The Alphabet Series: M is for Marian Musings

The Sing Song Club presents a recital around the theme of the biblical Mary. Check out the brochure below for more information:

More info on the Events Page.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Opera Siam's 'World Opera Week'

Opera Siam
presents its fourth annual World Opera Week, featuring the Southeast Asian premiere of Wagner's The Flying Dutchman. Here's more information:

World Opera Week - Fourth Time Around

Approximately every 2-3 years, Bangkok Opera Foundation and its daughter organizations, Siam Philharmonic and Opera Siam, present a "World Opera Week." This year, we present 3 programmes between Dec 6-14, all of which expand the conventional ideas of "music theatre". This year we also commemorate the 200th anniversary of Richard Wagner and the 10th anniversary of the founding of the Richard Wagner Circle of Bangkok, inaugurated by HRH Princess Galyani Vadhana.

World Opera Week celebrates the Birthdayof H.M. the King this year in royal style, bringing the best of classic and contemporary culture to the Bangkok scene with both premium upscale events and free ones.

December 6: Lux in Tenebris - Bangkok Art and Culture Center (free) 7 pm.

advance booking strongly advised:

A stunning meditation in pictures, art and words about the life of Caravaggio, one of the most significant painters who pioneered the technique of chiaroscuro. The paintings will be brought to life by brilliant young dancer Kampanath Ruangkittivilas, last seen as Tabinshvehti, King of Pegu, in Somtow's highly successful SURIYOTHAI. Music directed by Jacopo Gianninoto. lyrics by S.P. Somtow, Nana Dakin narrator, and many others.

Dec 15 at 6:30 pm: Jeux3 by Philippe St Pierre

A little hors d'oeuvre before the performance of The Flying Dutchman will be the dance trio performing this work to the early avant-garde music of Somtow Sucharitkul - reconstructed from a rare 1979 audiotape.

Jeux explores the relationship between space and time: starting with a solo, then becoming a duet before ending up as a trio (jeux3), in an permanent oscillation and memory of what was and could have been. The dancers keep going from solos to duets to finally end up as a trio which could very well have no more future than the sum of its parts. As we are still alone in the deep space, encounters are short lived and the end comes as it started, in a perpetual circle of life and death.

Admission to Jeux3 is free.

Dec 15 at 7:30 pm - The Flying Dutchman - Southeast Asian premiere

tickets at 25% off until December 1 from Thai Ticket Major!

And all-star cast, veterans from the Bayreuth Festival and other top opera houses, comes together in Somtow Sucharitkul's startling new produciton of Wagner's ghost opera about damnation and redemption - and the sea. The opera receives an Asian twist.

For The Flying Dutchman tickets please contact Thai Ticket Major (02) 262-3456 or send an email to

For other events contact

English Play 'Bollywood Kee-Maa'

Bollywood fever seems to be hitting our arts scene; coming after the foreign dance spectacular of Merchants of Bollywood comes this locally produced English-language play by theatre company Evam Arts. Their play will run at the Alliance Francaise on 13 and 14 December 2013 (4pm and 8pm). Check out the trailer below, and don't forget to buy your tickets at SISTIC!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

SLO 'Così fan Tutte' - 28 Feb, 1 and 3 March 2014 (Early-Bird Discounts)

Lots of things can be said about Mozart's opera about confused lovers, their cynical mentor and cunning maid, but I think readers of this blog will be most interested to know who's singing. So here goes:

Rachelle Gerodias (Soprano/Philippines) as Fiordiligi, a young lady in love with Guglielmo
Du Qin (Mezzo Soprano/China) as Dorabella, her sister, in love with Ferrando                
Ee‐Ping (Soprano/Singapore) as Despina, their maid
Ferrando (TBC), a young man in love with Dorabella
Byeong‐in Park (Baritone/South Korea) as Guglielmo, a young man in love with Fiordiligi
David Hibbard (Bass/Australia) as Don Alfonso, an old philosopher

Joshua Tan Kang Ming, Conductor
Tom Hawkes, director      
Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra and Chorus

Here are the bios of the debutants:

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Starlight Express in Review - 13 November 2013

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A family oriented show for both young and old. Premiered in 1984, the original production of Starlight Express won tremendous commercial success by having its cast perform on roller skates throughout in a specially built theatre, with ramps that reach into the audience. This touring production uses 3D graphics in place of the ramps, which are used to perform train races. it also featured a few new songs not in the original cast recording, and was closely supervised personally by Andrew Lloyd Webber and his team.

Visually, this production had the look and feel of an 80s rock concert, with loud outlandish costumes, gravity defying hair and strobe lights that reach far into the audience. Numerous times during the performance, the actors beckoned at the audience to "wave your arms in the air", clap along or shout certain words (typically reticent Singaporeans that we are, we just meekly clapped along). Musical styles run the gamut from 80s rock anthems and ballads to Louis Armstrong-like blues-jazz, Elvis, 60s girl-groups, hip-hop and disco.

For all his bel canto stylings of Phantom, one forgets that Andrew Lloyd Webber's early success was in using pop music styles in musicals, a breakthrough for its time, creating musicals that resemble rock concerts in certain moments. Of course, no one expects to take a plot about the love lives of toy trains seriously, and the different musical styles, greatly contrasting and neatly arranged into set pieces, sometimes come off almost as parodies of the styles they are imitating.

I have always expressed to whoever would listen that live theatre is really the most definitive 3D experience, no glasses nedded (and that live unamplified sound is the ultimate Dolby-Digital-Whatever). The 3D clips that showed the trains racing, while very well-produced, only highlighted what we are missing without the actors physically acting out the races. Nonetheless it did provide a change in aesthetics, and are nicely segued in with the live action.

Throughout the two hour show the cast skated and pulled off complicate choreography with professional ease. no fault can be placed on the high level of every performers' skill and commitment. While the plot is paper thin, it provides for a setting to present impressively well rehearsed song and dance routines (most of the cast have been involved with previous revivals). The cast's chemistry and rapport is airtight, with every dance move perfectly in sync, and every note sung in place and with character.

A sing-along medley of the show's songs served as an extended encore, a finale aimed at pleasing the audience one last time as well as have them humming the tunes as they leave. This is great theatrical experience for those looking for a rollin' good time.

More pictures available on our Facebook Group.

Find out how to get tickets at the Events Page!

FREE (but donations appreciated): Benefit Concert "Albert Tiu and Friends" for Typhoon Haiyan Relief

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A message from Yong Siew Toh Conservartory of Music piano associate professor and native Filipino Albert Tiu:

Dear friends,

I would like to invite you to a benefit concert Albert Tiu and Friends next Thursday, 21 November 2013, at the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, National University of Singapore, in aid of the victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines. Organised in collaboration with Kris Foundation and with venue support from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, this concert will feature works by Schubert, Saint-Saens, Piazzolla and Joshua Pangilinan amongst others.

 I am grateful that my friends, YST colleagues and students have volunteered to perform with me during this occasion. This will not be a ticketed event. We will be accepting donations by cheque or cash at the door, the proceeds of which will be directed to the Singapore Red Cross Society and the Philippine Bayanihan Society (Singapore). In the wake of such massive destruction and devastation to the region of the Visayas that is my hometown, no amount is too small. Your presence and support will be much appreciated!

Admission is by registration - please email me at to indicate the number of seats you would like. Donation by cheque is preferred, made payable to "Singapore Red Cross Society". Please write "Red Cross Haiyan Relief" on the back of the cheque along with your name, contact number and address. I look forward to seeing you and thank you in advance for your support and kind donations.

Albert Tiu
Associate Professor of Piano
Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

FREE: Singapore Conference Hall Ensemble Series 2013/2014

The Singapore Conference Hall presents its inaugural festival to present homegrown community ensembles. Performances are held throughout the year. Best of all, its free! Here's more information from their press release:

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lightseeker Media Preview

I was honoured to be invited to a special preview of Lightseeker, an original musical produced by Resorts World Sentosa.  Despite an overwhelmingly large cast of ang-mohs from the West End, this is a largely local production, principally led by Andrea Teo, the TV producer with the Midas touch (Phua Chu Kang and Under One Roof among her credits), with music by Dick Lee (arranged and orchestrated by Jonathan Lim and Bang Wenfu) and featuring Lim Kay Siu in a supporting role. 

EMI's Celebration of the Voice

November 2013 is EMI's month for celebrating all things vocal, with new releases by Julia Lezhneva and Philippe Jaroussky in Pergolesi's Stabat Mater, a highlights CD of the Ring Cycle with Nina Stimme as Brunnhilde, and recital CDs from newcomers Marina Rebeka and Sabine Devieilhe. View trailers and find out more on their newsletter here:

Saturday, November 9, 2013

A Chat with Selena Tan

I spoke to Selena Tan on the phone at the end of a long day of rehearsals, choping a seat at the MBS foodcourt with only 15 minutes to the opening of the dance spectacular Merchants of Bollywood. Soon to appear in her own Deam Aademy's Ting Tong Belles, this one-woman dynamo's presence has graced our TV screens and theatre stage, is impresario of her own act and promoted many well-known personalities from the stage instead of TV. But instead of a diva-CEO persona, I had a rather pleasant conversation with a down-to-earth and straightforward person. Here's what we discussed:

Friday, November 8, 2013

LANXESS-Singapore National Youth Orchestra - Musical Inspirations - 26 Nov 2013

Conductor David Commanday and violinist Max Mandel will lead the Singapore National Youth Orchestra in a series of masterclasses and workshops, culminating in a public performance entitled Musical Inspirations on 26 November 2013 at the Esplanade Concert Hall. On the programme are works by Weber, Stamitz and Brahms.Check out the LANXESS-SNYO Facebook Fanpage for more information and to win tickets!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Synergy in Music - 1 Nov 2013

I was happy to be invited to this closed door concert on 1 November, presented by Russian energy company Gazprom. In order to cultivate diplomacy ties with Singapore, three talented young Russian musicians, violinist Alena Baeva, cellist Alexander Buzlov and clarinettist Valentin Uryupin, were flown in to perform concertos by Mendelssohn, Saint-Saens and Weber, accompanied by young Singaporean musicians and our very own Darrell Ang.

Violinist Alena Baeva
Besides showing off their virtuosity, the three musicians also got to coach our young musicians in a few masterclasses. In addition to sponsoring this concert, Gazprom has also generously donated to Darrell Ang's Young Musicians' Foundation of Singapore and its resident orchestra (which performed here tonight). In partnership with Raffles Institution, it aims to help financially needy young Singaporean musicians with assistance for their studies.

Cellist Alexander Buzlov
The Mad Scene congratulates all performers and presenters for a job well done! Thanks for a lovely concert and providing more opportunities for our Singaporean musicians!

Clarinettist Valentin Uryupin

FreshAir FineArts Festival Singapore 2013

The Luxe Art Museum, located at 6 Handy Road near Dhoby Ghaut station, will be presenting free evenings of chamber music from 17 to 23 November as part of their FreshAir Fine Arts Festival. Part of the programme includes a song recital of Mozart, Schumann and Vaughan Williams by baritone Xiao Chunyuan, as well as Britten folksong arrangements presented by pianist Beatrice Lin and her singers.

Check out!evening-concerts/c7ze for more info.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

The Merchants of Bollywood in Review

With its English dialogue set among popular Bollywood tunes, The Merchants of Bollywood is a dance spectacular catered for non-Indians who ever wondered what the fuss about Bollywood movies is all about. Exciting traditional and contemporary dance numbers set to the latest tunes, intricate costumes made with buckets of sequins, beads and gold lamé and worn by dozens of hunks and babes, this is a production that goes all out to impress with razzle dazzle.

Much like a typical Bollywood movie, the leads make no pretense that they are miming to songs recorded by other singers. Between numbers there is a touching if predictable plot that traces the history of Bollywood movies, as told through the eyes of a grandfather and his grandaughter, the former a cultivator of traditional values through cinema, and the latter who keeps in trend with our amoralistic times in pursuit of commercial success.

While The Merchants of Bollywood was first seen in Singapore two years ago, it is now updated in many parts with the latest Bollywood hit songs, with brand new dance routines to go with it. This show is worth watching for the top quality of its dancing, its high production values, and its many attractive dancers!

Next up, Andrew Lloyd Webber's Starlight Express, opening next week!

More pictures on our Facebook Group

More information at

UPDATE: Hawk interviews leading lady Carol Furtado on the MBS stage!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Merchants of Bollywood Showcase at MBS

I was fortunate to have been invited to attend an impromptu showcase of the upcoming Merchant of Bollywood performances at MBS Hotel Lobby 1. Although the duration was short (about 10 minutes), the energy put up by the cast was tremendous. Check out my photos and videos of the event, and get tickets for the full performance running from 5 to 10 November to see more!

'Starlight Express' at MBS - 14 to 24 Nov 2013

Premiered after Evita and before Phantom of the Opera, Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1984 rock musical Starlight Express, about the lives and loves of a bunch of train carriages, played out by actors performing entirely on roller skates on a stage made for stunts. While its tunes are not as famous as the composer's other works, it was a hit in its day for being an action-packed multi-sensory experience. Here's more information:


STARLIGHT EXPRESS Glides into Singapore for the First Time

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock ‘n’ roller-skates musical sensation set to spin audiences at the Mastercard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands.

One of the best-loved, longest-running and most unique musicals in theatrical history - Starlight Express - is set to delight audiences at Marina Bay Sands later this year, direct from its sell-out tour around the UK. A first for Singapore, the show will run at The MasterCard Theatre from 13 November for a strictly limited season. Tickets are now on sale.

Andrew Lloyd Webber’s rock ‘n’ roller-skates sensation is one of his most successful musicals. Light years ahead of the rest, Starlight Express is a futuristic tale about love, rivalry and hope in the face of adversity. The show delivers two hours of speed, energy, 3 dimensional spectacle, daredevil stunts and turbo-charged excitement.

Originally conceived as a cartoon story for his own children, Lloyd Webber’s masterpiece tells the story of a child’s dream, in which toy trains come to life and compete to become the fastest engine in the world, while also competing for the affections of the glamorous coaches with whom they must ‘team-up’ with.

With the entire cast of 28 on roller skates, Starlight Express will amaze audiences with its speed and skill, showcasing extraordinary roller-choreography from the renowned West End choreographer Arlene Phillips. The story hurtles along against a backdrop of high-tech staging, 3 dimensional projection, special effects and a pulsating score. The soundtrack by high-voltage team of Lloyd Webber/David Yazbek draws inspiration from numerous music styles, from rhythm and blues, rock ‘n’ roll, jazz, rap, country and western, and contemporary pop acts.