Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Into the Woods" by Dream Academy

Dream Academy will be presenting Stephen Sondheim's classic musical Into the Woods, opening from 29 July to 7 August at the Esplanade Theatre and featuring an all-star cast including Selena Tan, Adrian Pang, Sebastian Tan, Emma Yong, Denise Tan, George Chan, Lim Kay Siu, RJ Rosales and Robin Goh, together with Ria Jones (London West End: Chess, Cats, Les Miserables; Singapore: A Twist of Fate) and Sheila Francisco (London West End: South Pacific; Singapore: The Full Monty). Here's more information and quotes from the cast and director Glen Goei:


Dream Academy brings Into The Woods, the TONY AWARD-WINNING MUSICAL by Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine, to the Esplanade Theatre for the first time! Featuring a stellar cast of musical theatre talents from Singapore, the region and London’s West End, Into The Woods is Dream Academy’s tribute to the classic Broadway musical.

The cast list reads like a dream: household names in the local theatre scene, as well as Ria Jones (London West End: Chess, Cats, Les Miserables; Singapore: A Twist of Fate) and Sheila Francisco (London West End: South Pacific; Singapore: The Full Monty), who have each earned acclaim with roles in West End productions.

Ria plays the chameleon role of the Witch, originated by the award-winning Bernadette Peters on Broadway. Ria was last seen in A Twist of Fate in Singapore, as heroine Emma West. Sheila Francisco recently brought the house down here as the hilarious Jeanette Burmeister in The Full Monty. She plays another kooky character in Into The Woods – Jack’s mother.

This new staging of Into The Woods is led by director Glen Goei, collaborating with ACADEMY AWARD-NOMINATED ART DIRECTOR, Ian Bailie (Films: Atonement, Pride and Prejudice, The Blue Mansion), who pulls double duty as set designer and overall production designer.

Into The Woods is a homecoming of sorts for some of the cast and the director. Says Glen: “I first directed ‘Into The Woods’ in 1994, when I returned from the UK. In that production, I cast a newcomer called Selena Tan in the role of Little Red Riding Hood, and Adrian Pang also a newcomer to Singapore theatre, as Jack. In this Dream Academy production, Adrian and Selena have grown into the roles of the Baker and his
Wife. It’s wonderful to see how much they’ve matured as actors. I had always wanted to revisit this classic Sondheim musical and show how relevant it still is, and to give it a fresh twist for today’s young audiences.”
Emma Yong and Sebastian Tan are not newcomers to fairy-tale character roles either, having played Cinderella and Jack previously in pantomime productions.

Says Emma: “I've always loved ‘Into The Woods’ and was thrilled when Selena told me she wanted to do it! I've played the role of Cinderella before but THIS Cinderella is different, she comes to realize in the course of the show that maybe life isn't a fairytale, relationships are complicated and perhaps what she's been dreaming of isn't actually what she really wants. She's a Cinderella that gets to grow up into a woman!”

Into The Woods will also be a reunion for Robin Goh and RJ Rosales, who play brothers again for the first time since their memorable depiction of Siamese twins, Chang and Eng. This time they will thrill and seduce as the vain Princes Charming. Ex-The Dance Floor judge, George Chan, is the one playing twin roles this time: as the character of Wolf, who lustily pursues Little Red Riding Hood, and as the production’s choreographer.

For Selena Tan, producing Into The Woods is a dream come true: “’Into The Woods’ is my all-time favourite musical! There are so many wonderful layers to the musical that I’m still discovering. Yet it is a story that has all the elements you could wish for in a musical – a riveting story, lots of action and excitement, special
effects, comedy and songs that will keep you humming for days! It is pure entertainment for the entire family!”

“This production is truly a labour of love, and we fully intend to awe the audience with an amazing set, an almost filmic lighting design and fashion-forward, whimsical costumes, hair and make up. This is a production we would be proud to invite Mr Stephen Sondheim himself to. You never know, this wish could come true - just as wishes do in ‘Into The Woods’!”


Sunday, June 26, 2011

An Interview with Janice Watson

Here's an interview that at reader has found about Janice Watson, Grammy award winning artist and soon to be Salome at the SLO production opening in August. Here she discusses singing another Strauss opera, the Marschallin. Look out for our own Mad Scene exclusive coming soon as the dates draw nearer!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Audition for 2012 "L'elisir d'amore"

Click on images below to enlarge
Jeong Ae-Ree is launching her own opera company and is inviting YOU to take part! Exciting news this is indeed. The company is called New Opera Singapore and will stage Donizetti's beloved comedy L'elisir  d'amore. Here's more information :
New Opera Singapore

We are a non-profit organization comprising of a new generation of Singaporeans with a passion for Opera and Western Vocal music. We believe in the power of music and theatre to influence lives positively and we are committed in making classical music more accessible to the community. We seek to premier quality works with a fresh direction and provide a quality platform to young talents in Singapore and in the region.

Our first production will be Gaetano Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in August 2012. We are holding open auditions soon and are inviting all interested singers and vocalists to apply!

L'elisir d'amore Open Auditions

Date: 15 and 16 July
Venue: TBC

- Please prepare 2 opera arias
- 1 of which must be in Italian
- Bring resume and photo to audition
- You may bring your own pianist but one will be provided
- Email or snail mail music together with application

Interested applicants please email
Application forms will then be emailed to you.

As it is, the unintentionally controversial soprano is using her unfortunate recent past to garner early hype for the company, landing a Sunday Times feature that will hopefully lead to more funding and sponsors. 

Think you have what it takes to be prima donna or primo tenore of a new opera outfit? Then take part by downloading the application form here!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Vox Camerata's "Aurora" in Review

11th June 2011
A review by Hawk Liu

Aptly named Aurora, the concert given by Vox Camera, a vocal ensemble of 12 women and 9 men, sang mostly works of composers whose origins were in the cold, northern nations of Estonia , Serbia , Norway , Finland and Sweden. Most pieces were written in the same vein as Renaissance music of the church, with a heavy slant to difficult (but yet tonal) harmony, and also of contemporary melodies, quite like that of John Rutter's. It's a brave endeavour to present an evening of music where most of the pieces have such a huge amount of difficult harmonies and all in their original languages.Though a young ensemble, it showed it's steel and determination in hitting out all the difficult harmonies, to a mix of mostly success despite a number of uncertain
vocal entries.

There was a verbal introduction before each composer's set of works were performed. This was certainly very useful and made for interesting reflection of each work. Having different narrators for each set was a nice idea. For me, it's top marks for the final narrator who was the most lively one. Narrators reading from their phones was quite slick! The concert presentation was well thought out and rehearsed - down to who would switch off the mics after each narration, how long to bow as well as the big smiles after each piece.

The first 2 pieces by Arvo Part seemed laboured. I would say it was due to both pieces taken way too slow. From the third piece on, the ensemble was more in their element. Time and again through the evening, they showed what they were made of when they enjoyed the music they were singing.

As a choral ensemble, their vocal blend was rather good. Except for a few difficult high notes for the women in pianissimo, the blend was tight, consistent and pleasing. That is amazing for a non-auditioned set of singers. The women's voices were especially warm when they smiled! I would prefer a more hefty sound from the choir by having more basses. Oh, yes, there was a delightful soprano singing some solo bits in one spiritual song at the end.

With a good blend of choral sound, what was then missing was a greater use of dynamics. In general, the expression was rather conservative. Some pieces required more movement and a quicker pace might help.
There were many other wonderful pieces throughout the concert. My favourite piece was the James E Moore's 'An Irish Blessing'. They were inspiring and reflective. The harmonies were interesting and there was always something interesting to hear in each piece. Thanks for a concert well thought out and pieces well chosen. It was a delightful evening.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Opera in the Park 2011

The Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO)'s popular annual Opera in the Park series is taking place once again at the Botanic Gardens on 11 June 2011. On the bill is a cast of familiar and new faces to SLO regulars. Here's a quick introduction to who we will be hearing this coming Saturday:


2nd Prize winner of the 2008 Dimitri Mitropoulos International Competition and Juilliard graduate, Singaporean conductor JoshuaKangming Tan’s rise to prominence on the international scene has
been marked by recent sensational debuts in Carnegie Hall, Philharmonie Berlin, Mariinsky Hall, Taiwan, Japan, Shanghai and Beijing. He has won numerous awards and scholarships, including the
Bruno Walter Memorial Foundation Award, NAC-Shell Scholarship and is the first ever recipient of the Charles Schiff Conducting Prize from the Juilliard School for outstanding achievement.

Joshua has come to the attention of the leading conductors of today and has been mentored by James DePreist, Charles Dutoit, David Zinman and Kurt Masur. Recent engagements include performances with the National Center for Performing Arts Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Mariinsky Theater Orchestra, Guangzhou Symphony Orchestra, Russiche Kammerphilharmonie, Macao Symphony Orchestra, National Taiwan Symphony Orchestra, Taipei Symphony Orchestra, Guiyang Symphony Orchestra,
Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, Kaoshiung City Symphony Orchestra, St Petersburg State Capella Symphony Orchestra and the St Petersburg State Symphony Orchestra, amongst others.

Upcoming highlights include concert debuts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, Ural Philharmonic Orchestra, Academic Symphony Orchestra of St Petersburg Philharmonia and the Okayama Symphony Orchestra.


Born in Singapore, Cherylene Liew studied at The University of Queensland, Australia, under the tutelage of Mark Jowett where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music in Performance (Honours Class I) and a Master of Philosophy in Music Performance (Voice).

During her time in Australia, she was Musician-in-Residence at St. John’s College, The University of Queensland. There, she conducted the St. John’s College Choral Scholars, as well as the St. John’s College Inter-College Choral Festival Choir. Cherylene was also a Pipe Organ Scholar at the college for 4

Cherylene has performed as a soloist extensively in Australia, making regular appearances at The University of Queensland’s Lunchtime Concert Series and the Customs House Concert Series. In Singapore, Cherylene performed at Singapore Lyric Opera’s Opera in the Park, Airs d’Opera for The National Museum’s Christian Lacroix Exhibition, as well as, The Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte, and Frasquita in Carmen, both also by the Singapore Lyric Opera.

EVELYN ANG - Soprano

Evelyn graduated from the degree course at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) with a BA (Hons) in Music (Second upper) in 2010. She was awarded the Tan Ngiang Kaw/Tan Ngiang Ann Music Merit Award for the academic year 2009-2010. Evelyn spent her years at NAFA under the tutelage of renowned soprano, Nancy Yuen and has performed in four Opera Scenes held at the Lee Foundation Theatre.
Some of her roles include Valencienne in excerpts from Lehar’s The Merry Widow in 2008 and 2009, Armida in excerpts from Handel’s Rinaldo, 2009 and Pamina in excerpts from Mozart’s The Magic Flute in 2009.

Evelyn has also worked with several young local composers in the premiere of their pieces
and has shared many wonderful performances with the Singapore Lyric Opera Chorus and the NAFA Choir. She is an active recitalist who has performed in numerous concerts in NAFA, the Esplanade Concourse,
the Esplanade Concert Hall, Kuching (Sarawak) and Johor Bahru (Malaysia). Evelyn is currently studying under tenor, Lim Shieh Yih, the Head of the Voice faculty at NAFA.


Described as the “star of the evening” and a “gifted Tenor… gloriously rich, musical voice that instantly captivated and enthralled”(Oxford Times), Singapore-born Melvin studied at the Royal Academy of Music (RAM) (London), graduating with honours, and awarded the Bilsland Prize and 2nd prize
in the Ludmilla Andrew Russian Song Competition adjudicated by Simon Keenlyside. The only Singaporean
finalist at the recent 1st Singapore International Vocal Competition, Melvin was also a finalist at the 1st Festa
Canzona Art Song competition (Singapore), winning the Lieder prize.

Melvin graduated with a Masters in English Literature (University of Edinburgh) then received a National Arts Council bursary to study at the RAM with Diane Forlano and Dominic Wheeler. Melvin has participated in master classes with Robert Tear, Philip Langridge, Sergei Leiferkus, and Ioan Hollander. In 2009/2010, Melvin joined the Flanders Opera Studio (Belgium) performing Oronte in Handel’s Alcina and creating multiple roles in the world premiere of Brackx’s La mort au Bal Masqué. For the SLO, Melvin has performed notably as Pang in Puccini’s Turandot, Cascada in Lehár’s The Merry Widow, Andrès/Cochenille/Frantz/Pitichinaccio in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffman and was Tenor Soloist in its Opera in the Park Concert 2010. In the UK, Melvin has sung with Opera South, Guildford Opera, Clonter Opera, Opera Holland Park, Grange Park Opera and Garsington Opera. Recently, Melvin was the Tenor Soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony at the World Expo, Shanghai under Maestro Cao Peng.

Singaporean tenor Reuben Lai studied at the Guildhall in London under David Pollard and with Peter Alexander Wilson and Stephen Robertson at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.

While studying in Scotland, Reuben was selected to sing for numerous masterclasses and was the runner up for the prestigious Ye Cronies Opera Prize. He is also the first Singaporean to be awarded for the prestigious Samling scholarship and participated in public and private performances at the Sage, Gatehead in Newcastle with Sir Thomas Allen and Isobel Buchanan. He was also invited to sing for Jose Cura for an international project at the Royal Academy of Music in September 2008.

Recent operatic roles that Reuben has performed include Lenski in Evgeny Onegin, the Tanzmeister in Ariadne auf Naxos, Chevalier de la Force in Dialogues des Carmelites. Described as a “…first rate tenor” by Opera magazine for his role as Truffaldino in L’amour des trios oranges by Prokofiev. Reuben was in demand as a concert and oratorio singer throughout the UK, and his repertoire included Handel’s Messiah, Haydn’s The Creation and numerous masses. He was also until recently a full time member of the chorus at Glyndebourne opera, and covered the role of Bardolfo for them on tour.

WILLIAM LIM - Baritone
Born in Singapore, William Lim studied under Michael Rippon in The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, Hong Kong, Rudolf Pierney in The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and Patrick McGuigan in The Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester. He was awarded the Silver Rose Award
at the Rosa Ponselle International Voice Competition, New York.

William has sung in Mozart’s Die Zauberflote, Don Giovanni, Bizet’s Carmen, Britten’s Noye’s Fludde, The Midsummer Night’s Dream, Puccini’s Madama Butterfly, Turandot, Verdi’s La Traviata, Ernani, Rigoletto, Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci, Die Fledermaus, Suchraritkul’s Mae Naak, Weill’s Street Scenes, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, Mendelssohn’s Elijah, St. Pauls, Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, B Minor Mass, Haydn’s Nelson Mass, The Creation etc- all these in collaboration with The Singapore Lyric Opera, The Singapore Symphony Orchestra, The Hong Kong Oratorio Society, The Hong Kong Singers, The Bangkok Opera, The Penang Art’s Council, Friends of the Scottish Opera, Choral Trust Chamber Ensemble in Nottingham (England), Lleisiau Gwent Choral Society (Wales) and Orpheus Choir (England).

In recent years, William sang My Dream for the National Day Parade (2001) as well as the
Olympic Anthem for the 2005 IOC Opening. In 2006, William has sung Dottore Bartolo in
Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, Bass solos in Bach’s Mass in B minor and Poulenc’s Le Bal Masque
and Silver Screen concert for Singapore Lyric Opera.

In 2007, William has sung in SLO’s Viva Verdi and Basilio in Rossini’s Il Barbiere di Siviglia and
SSO’s Seven Last Words from the Cross by MacMillan. In 2008, William will take part in The
Philharmonic Chamber Choir’s Mass in B minor by Bach, Te Deum by Charpentier, Haydn’s
Lord Nelson Mass and Donizetti’s Il Campanello di Notte and Weill’s Three Penny Opera for
Bangkok’s NUNI production.

Works for 2009 include Singapore Lyric Opera’s production of Offenbach’s Les Contes
D’Hoffmann, Haydn’s Nelson Mass for Nanyang Academy for Fine Arts, Mozart’s Vespaere
solennes de Confessore for the Festival Chorus, Airs d’Opera for National Museum’s Christian
Lacroix Exhibition and the Singapore Arts Festival’s Final Fantasy concert.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Piano VS Guitar Fest on TimeOut

I know I know that this blog hasn't been updated for ages. I've been swamped with assorted work and everything requires top priority, including 2 recitals and one more coming up. Meanwhile, here's my contribution to the June issue of TimeOut Magazine,do check it out and thanks for your support!