Thursday, March 24, 2016

'Singapore Pocket Opera Theatre' in Review

When a loving reader sends in a review ready to be published, of a show that he loves so much that he simply has to write about, what can I do but to put it up? Thanks Geoffrey Chok for taking the time and surprising us with your take of Singapore Pocket Opera Theatre's most recent performance at the Esplanade Concourse!

Esplanade Presents: At the Concourse

Cool Classics by the Singapore Pocket Opera Theatre


Vincent Chen, piano
Evelyn Ang, soprano
Felicia Teo, soprano
Jeremy Koh, tenor
David Tao, flutist

7.15pm, 20 March 2016

Esplanade Concourse

Concert review by Geoffrey Chok

In such time of shrinking budgets that threaten the vitality of the arts here in Singapore, it is heartening to see how arts groups have strived in their community outreach efforts. Programmes like the Singapore Lyric Opera’s Opera in the Park, Singapore Symphony Orchestra’s Casual Concerts and Esplanade’s At the Concourse free concerts are all the more important.

I was at Loke Hoe-Kit’s cello performance earlier in the afternoon at the Esplanade Concourse when I chanced upon publicity about an opera concert happening in the evening so, why not?

Kicking off the performance were sopranos Evelyn Ang and Felicia Teo, with pianist Vincent Chen providing the music to Léo Delibes' Flower Duet from the opera Lakmé. Looking around me were audience members captivated by the seamless harmonies of the two artists’ enchanting voices. The duet soon drew a large gathering of people around the stage area as tenor Jeremy Koh presents a dashing display of vocal acrobatics with La donna è mobile.

Unlike conventional opera performances, there were no blazers, bow-ties and puffy gowns at this showcase. The amicable singers were seated on barstools beside the piano unless they were singing. While their reactions were as spontaneous as the audience members, their presence also helps as a visual cue to know when to clap! This really helps to achieve that ‘living room experience’ which they sought to achieve as they joked around in between arias.

One of the highlights that left an impression was Lo! Here the Gentle Lark, which employs the virtuosity of flutist David Tao. I learnt after the programme that David is also a bass-baritone studying at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts who has sung as a principal in Hansel and Gretel the opera. The work was expertly performed as Evelyn’s fine coloratura went head-on with the effortlessly playful trills of the flute part. The ensemble was competently held together with Vincent’s encouraging yet firm piano playing. Felicia Teo’s presentation of Kurt Weill’s What Good Would the Moon Be is most interesting when heard alongside the grand sounds of Jeremy Koh’s Pourqoui me réveiller.

I enjoyed how the artists explained why they chose the pieces,and which TV shows they first heard the music from, instead of the usual Wikipedia moments that send unacquainted listeners to boredom. I was not only captivated by the music making, but also by the sincere interactions between the performers and fellow listeners. It was a most pleasant way to spend a Sunday evening!

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