Tuesday, September 12, 2023

Review: Handel's Julius Caesar in Egypt - 9 Sep 2023

Our audience member Daniel Emlyn-Jones from the UK is so kind to pen down his thoughts about Julius Caesar in Egypt this past Saturday. Here is his review of the show:

Review of ‘Julius Caesar in Egypt’ by Handel, presented by The Mad Scene

Goodman Arts Centre Black Box, Singapore, 9th and 10th September 2023

By Daniel Emlyn-Jones

This slick presentation by The Mad Scene of Handel’s famous opera made for a very satisfying evening of music. The Black Box in the Goodman Arts Centre is a roughly rectangular performance space, which provided a pleasant intimacy between performers and audience. The three-dimensional potential of the space was fully realised, and placement of a screen at the back with surtitles, capably operated by Lucas Wan, was an excellent choice. So often at the opera I find myself having to constantly turn my head this way and that to glance at surtitles, so this made for a welcome relief. 

The backing projection slides of ancient Egypt, conceived by Steven Ang, also added to the atmosphere. The opera was very well cast. Tatiana Konovalova’s luminous and satisfying champagne voice suited the great queen very well, and I found myself wanting to hear this voice in a larger acoustic (book the Esplanade Theatre next time please 😊). Her costume and makeup, brilliantly conceived by Francis Wong, coupled with some wonderful acting and graceful choreography complemented the singing beautifully. 

Steven Ang, playing Julius Ceasar, had great stage presence, and his dark baritone, which negotiated the demanding role with considerable ability, contrasted nicely with Tatiana. Voice appreciation is such a subjective business, and I often find myself longing for more chiaroscuro balance in the darker male voices (Jonas Kaufmann included!), but all in all these lead roles convinced. Francis Wong played Ptolemy with a deliciously camp delinquency and charismatic singing which I greatly enjoyed and Hugo Van Bever’s rakish portrayal of Achillas was equally effective, with some wonderfully humorous touches, such as when he delivers the line: ‘think about it’ to poor Cornelia! Cornelia (played by Chieko Trevatt) and Sesto (Ashley Chua), both sang exquisitely, and their duet before the intermission was so heartrendingly beautiful, I had to find my way to the restrooms while still crying! 

The performance was expertly devised by artistic director Steven Ang and resident director Hawk Liu. Having the singing in Italian and the dialogue in English was very effective, and the English dialogue, written by Hawk Liu, succeeded in delivering the story with crystal clarity. Pianist Francesca Lee accompanied the opera flawlessly. Shana Yap did sterling work with the lighting, which delivered at key moments but never became intrusive. Last but not least, Denise Liu gave a very friendly welcome front of house and was very tolerant when I got all my QR Codes mixed up!

This production by The Mad Scene shows what can be achieved when people who are passionate about opera come together with a shared vision. Thank you so much for sharing your art with us!  

Thank you Daniel for the really kind review! Please follow Steven Ang on Instagram

Saturday, September 2, 2023

Quick Chat with Hawk Liu - Julius Caesar in Egypt - 9 and 10 Sep 2023


Production director Hawk Liu with the cast of Julius Caesar in Egypt

Hawk Liu is a wearer of many hats - singer, teacher, astrologer, actor of stage and screen, videographer to the stars, and Singapore's sexiest legs over 50... but here we speak to him as the director of our exciting upcoming production of Julius Caesar in Egypt. Read on to get to know our maestro better, and check out our exclusive promo code at the end of the article! 

Julius Caesar in Egypt [G] (sistic.com.sg)

What I like about my role (musically and dramatically)?

As a director, i certainly enjoy being able to make opera accessible and also the way I would like people to see it, without the traditionally stuffy interpretation but also not needing to do a radically different take by being abstract.

What is your horoscope star sign, and what does it say about you? 

I happen to be a professional Astrologer. My sun sign, Sagittarius, says that I think I am always right - but that's not true - I am just right most of the time!

Tell us something that we would not otherwise know about you? 

I used to be able to walk on my hands and do somersaults and ballet pirouettes, but since my body weight distribution has changed quite a bit from back then, I don't think I can do those things anymore. Or maybe I should try again....

What do you like to do when you’re not at work? 

I am not very good at not working! All my hobbies are my work, so maybe I don't really feel like I am working.

Lastly, tell us why we should watch Julius Caesar in Egypt on 9 and 10 September?

You have to come watch the show cos it's going to be amazing and the characters were specifically directed to come alive for you, the audience!

Tickets for Julius Caesar in Egypt (9 and 10 September) are now on sale at SISTIC. Use the promo code 'Julius' for 10% off. Discounts are also available for NSFs, senior citizens and students! 

Julius Caesar in Egypt [G] (sistic.com.sg)

Friday, September 1, 2023

The Mad Scene Turns 15 Today!!!

The Mad Scene turns 15 today! So happy to be part of Singapore's burgeoning artistic community. What started out as an outlet for three opera fanatics to discuss our favourite recordings soon became one of Singapore's most read independent e-zines, which then became a production company and record label. Thank you for sticking it through with us and showing us your continued support. 

Coming up next is one of our biggest productions to date - our very own take on Handel's classic opera Giulio Cesare in Egitto, or Julius Caesar in Egypt for our English speakers. It has truly been a big project to undertake, and we are so grateful to have assembled such a wonderful team onstage and off to give you the most complete musical and theatrical experience. I hope that you will join myself, Steven Ang, Tatiana Konovalova, Ashley Chua, Hawk Liu, Chieko Trevatt, Hugo Van Bever and Francesca Lee on 9 and 10 September at Goodman Arts Centre. 

As a special thank you for your support, please use promo code 'Julius' for a special 10% discount, with further discounts available for senior citizens, NSFs, students and children. Check out our exciting promos below, and see you at the theatre on 9 and 10 September! 

Handel's Julius Caesar in Egypt - 9 and 10 Sep 2023 | Facebook