Monday, October 24, 2016

RWAS's 'The Flying Dutchman' in Review - 23 Oct 2016

Wagner - der Fliegende Holländer
Venue: Victoria Theatre, Singapore
Date:23 October 2016

Review by Alvin Koh

Richard Wagner Association (Singapore)'s The Flying Dutchman would have made Wagner himself proud if he were to be alive now.

Performed by a star-studded cast and a committed and vivacious chorus onstage and offstage, the production was most apt as the first Wagnerian opera to be produced and presented in Singapore, not only because the opera itself was pivotal in the change of winds (pun intended) in the operatic style during Wagner's time and in his career (distinguishing him from his predecessors and near-contemporaries), but that it was a most auspiciously grand and yet humble introduction to the world of a Wagnerian musical thread in the newly furnished Victoria Theatre, which has an operatic history, albeit not glorious yet.

The cast were amazing and Singapore has to be proud of one of her representatives in this cast, Mr. Jonathan Tay as Steersman. He sang with conviction and his acting was sincere. (We too look forward to seeing Miss Nancy Yuen, Mr. Kee Loi-Seng and Mr. Martin Ng with optimism this coming Thursday .)

Mr. Oleksandr Pushniak as the eponymous Flying Dutchman and Mr. Andreas Hőrl as Daland were consummate in their craft as they acted and sang with aplomb. Beautiful diction, sang with long legato lines which surely contradicted the erroneous perception of Wagnerian operatic singing as merely 'loud and louder' with less musicality than the popularly termed 'Bel Canto operatic style' by her exponents, Bellini and Rossini. Instead, artistic sensitivity and sensibility was clearly seen in Mr. Pushniak's stellar performance of one of the very demanding baritone roles in opera.

I could not help but made the inference that Daland's black and white coloured costume, reminiscent of a certain clown persona, said something about his comical and seemingly cardboard character (which only showed development in the end.)

Miss Kathleen Parker had to be the great highlight of the evening with not only her great colourful and expansive singing but also her fine acting, which reminded me of a Michael Chelkov and Grotowski quality. She used her voice with economy, reserving the 'money notes' and the highly expected Wagnerian luxurious fortissimo vocal colours to the most appropriate moments needed to convey the intended message, no more and no less. It was and is indeed rare to hear a young Wagnerian soprano, the heaviest of the western operatic female fach, live in Singapore. Rarer to experience her as a thespian in a complete grand operatic art form.

The impactfully simple, yet never simplistic visuals, costumes and props formed one of the highlights which supported the cast and chorus brilliantly. The creative ubiquitous use of the South East Asian traditional Wayang Kulit (Shadow Puppetry) in the opera and especially in the overture was captivating and enhanced the mime and gestures of the characters Senta and Mary. Traditional and contemporary motifs, often stylised and seen in the costumes, setting, frozen uniformed hand gestures at the finale, psychological gestures and props were used tastefully in the opera. Eclecticism was achieved without seams.

One can go on writing about The Flying Dutchman but it seems pointless here to continue, not because it gives away too much of the game but that at some point, words fail! One simply has to experience the opera oneself.


RWAS's The Flying Dutchman performs on 25, 28, 30 October, local cast performing on 27 October (Thursday). Checkout the Events Page for more information! 

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Video Interviews with Cast of RWAS's 'The Flying Dutchman' - 23 to 30 Oct 2016

Hawk Liu pokes his nose into rehearsals for The Richard Wagner Association Singapore's first-ever production of The Flying Dutchman. First up, soprano Kathleen Parker who will sing Senta in the run. Kathleen talks about her training and work.

Next, Hawk speaks to Andreas Hoerl who will sing Daland in this production. Andreas gives an overview of working in opera in Europe, and why you should come to watch the Singapore production of Die Fliegende Holländer.

The Flying Dutchman (Die Fliegende Holländer) runs from 23 to 30 October at the Victoria Theatre. Check out the Events Page for more information!

Friday, October 14, 2016

SLO Gala Concert 'Love and Passion' - 18 Nov 2016

The Singapore Lyric Opera's annual Gala Concert this year, entitled Love and Passion is on 18 November 2016. Performers on the line-up are soprano Wang Bing Bing, baritone William Lim, mezzo Anna Koor and Leow Siak Fah Young Artists Programme singers Teo Kai Xin and Jeremy Koh. Also appearing are the SLO Orchestra, Chorus and Children's Chorus, led by Jason Lai. Check out SISTIC for tickets!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Happening Today!!! Musique Melange by Madison Academy of Music

Cast of Performers:
Gevorg Sargsyan – Cellist and music director
Khew Yun Zhen – Pianist
Wayne Teo – Pianist
Steven Ang – Baritone
Leslie Tay – Tenor
Alvin Tan – Baritone
Matthew Mak – Pianist
Roman Tarasov – Guitarist
Ani Umedyan – Violinist

With Special Guests –

The Brothers (Indonesia) from Asia's Got Talent (semi-finalists)

Get your tickets at Peatix!

Jeeves and Wooster in Review - Running till 16 Oct 2016

Lunchbox Theatrical Productions in association with
Mark Goucher and Mark Rubinstein present
P.G. Wodehouse’s
Jeeves and Wooster in
Perfect Nonsense
Original Director – Sean Foley
Adapted by The Goodale Brothers
Joseph Chance as Jeeves
Matthew Carter as Wooster
Robert Goodale as Seppings the Butler
6 Oct 2016
Capitol Theatre, Singapore

A Review by Hawk Liu

With one actor playing Wooster and the other 2 actors playing multiple characters in something of a screw-ball comedy/farce, one would anticipate lots of ridiculous costume changes, as well as actors' quickly exiting and entering from different directions. Yes, they did all that and on top of which they moved all the cleverly designed sets in quick time and precision. The actors were lively throughout, They all must lose a few kilos after each performance! They even made a joke out of that at the end of the play where Wooster asked Jeeves if they had to do all that again at the next evening's performance.

The characters were well played out with different physical expressions to distinguish between the different characters a single actor might play. There were a number of moments where it was hinted to the audience that 2 characters played by the same actor had to be on stage at the same time. How did they pull it off? Come and see!

In coming to a show like this, one must be prepared to encounter an early 20th century English theatrical sensibility with its references to characters that some British folks might have grown up knowing. If you do not fit into this category and had no prior exposure to even the television series Jeeves and Wooster, you would be lost in the significance of the characters being played out. It didn't help that other than Wooster, the other characters had rough and throaty voices that made clarity of diction difficult for me. In short, I lost the plot very early on in the Act One. The saving grace in diction was Matthew Carter, who played Wooster. His impeccable diction was greatly helped by his wonderfully clear vocal tone.

The Second Act was more interesting for me. There was a scene where 2 characters were skillfully played out by a single actor, Joseph Chance (the actor who also played Jeeves). There were many other gems in the play. Again, I must warn that for a play that is so verbose, diction might be a problem and one can lose the whole plot for that. If the humour of the early 20th century English is what you might like, this could be your thing to see.

Jeeves and Wooster is running till 16 October 2016 at the Capitol Theatre. Check out SISTIC for details!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

'Wicked' 2016 in Review - till 20 Nov 2016

Wicked- Still defying gravity after all these years
by Alan Tay

Music and lyrics by Stephen Schwartz
Musical staging Wayne Cilento
Directed by Joe Mantello
29 September – 16 October 2016
Grand Theatre, MasterCard Theatres at Marina Bay Sands

It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening. Good and well-paced story, exquisite music with intelligent lyrics and funny rhetoric, beautiful harmonious voices, wonderfully executed choreography, extraordinary dazzling costumes, bigger than life sets. Green never looked so breath-taking. I forgot my sun-glasses though!

Talk about looking at life through rose-colored glasses. Green is the colour. Research says that it has a calming effect. However, under all that glitz and glamour, is the story of an unlikely friendship between the popular ditzy blonde Glinda and the green skinned outcast Elphaba. Ever eternal themes like trust, loyalty, integrity, resilience, tenacity, honesty, kindness, seeing the best in another, are juxtaposed against lies, betrayal, despair, treachery, and the like as the two friends go to meet the Wizard of Oz to address and hopefully curb the issues that were engulfing munchkin land. Naivety and wide-eyed wonder get a fast reality check as the truth enfolds and both of the lead characters have to make hard choices that change the course of their lives.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Monkey Goes West - 18 Nov to 17 Dec 2016

W!ld Rice's hit pantomime Monkey Goes West returns to the stage this year. It stars Chua Enlai as Princess Iron Fan, Siti Khalijah Zainal as Sandy, Joshua Lim as Ah Tang, Darius Tan as King Bull, Frances Lee as Pigsy, Kimberly Chan as Red Boy and Sugie Phua as Monkey King. Broadway Beng Sebastian Tan directs Alfian Sa'at's book and lyrics, Bang Wenfu conducts Elaine Chan's music. Plus a gaggle of little kids in cute costumes to make you go aw....!!!

Check out the Events Page for information on tickets!