Friday, November 30, 2012

SLO Childrens' Choir "Where Love Is"

The SLO Children's choir presents their annual concert Where Love Is at the Esplanade Concert Hall on 8 December 2012. Here's more info about the show:

This Christmas season, the Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO) presents an evening of festivity and music by the SLO Children’s Choir with the theme, Where Love Is. The concert will take place on 8 December 2012 at the Esplanade Concert Hall at 7:30 pm.

Included in the concert programme will be a group of 200 students from five secondary schools and one junior college, singing with the Children’s Choir as part of the newest SLO outreach initiative, the Singing For All programme. These students are members of the guest choirs from selected participating schools that have been invited. The SLO Children’s Choir and the guest choirs will sing two beautiful songs together, Shin-jiru by Ko Matsushita and Where you are by Paul Mealor. They will also join in with the audience sing-along.

Christmas is not only a season of joy, it is also a time of thanksgiving and goodwill and the programme has been specially chosen to convey this message of love and charity. The choir will be performing a diverse selection of modern repertoire and Christmas classics such as The Christmas song by Mel Torme & Robert Wells, Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow! By Sammy Cahn & Jules Styne, Angel's Carol by John Rutter and many other beautiful songs for audience members to appreciate the meaning of the season. Audience members will also be able to participate in a sing--‐ along session with the choir after the concert.

Said Ms Ng Siew Eng, General Manager for the Singapore Lyric Opera, “The holiday season is a time of merriment and happiness that is celebrated with family and friends. It is also a good time to remind ourselves that this time of year is an opportunity to embrace a giving spirit. The joy we spread and share with others is often greatly returned. Therefore, we invite everyone to share in the holiday. Cheer with a concert that will showcase the true meanings of this special season.”

SLO’s newest initiative, the Singing For All programme, was devised to expose young people to singing. The initiative provides an avenue for students who enjoy singing to experience and learn a wide range of musical repertoire, to participate in additional workshops and training to develop vocal and leadership skills. We believe these additional learned skills help these young adults develop self-confidence in their abilities in daily life.

“The Singapore Lyric Opera feels that it is highly important for young people today to understand and appreciate the role that music plays in our general well being. Aside from wanting to cultivate a love of singing among our youth, this new initiative also aims to provide an inclusive environment so that they may have a more holistic learning experience. We at the SLO want to make a small difference to the lives of these young people. Invitations will be extended to schools to join our Singing For All programme,” Ms Ng continued.

Tickets for the concert are priced from $15 to $35 and can be purchased via the SISTIC website and telephone hotline or through authorized SISTIC agents.

Interview with Hossan Leong and Kumar (Crazy Christmas)

So like Dream Academy's Crazy Christmas opens this week in two versions: a family friendly one featuring Hossan Leong, followed by a naughty version featuring Kumar. The Mad Scene speaks to both artistes about what's different in each show. But first, a blurb from their press release:


Sunday, November 25, 2012

SLO Gala - "Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover" in Review

Singapore Lyric Opera - Opera Gala
23rd Novemeber 2012
Esplanade Concert Hall, Singapore

Nancy Yuen, Cherylene Liew - sopranos
Anna Koor - mezzo-soprano
Singapore Lyric Opera Orchestra
Joshua Kangming Tan - conductor

A Review by Hawk Liu

You may have heard of the all male Welsh choir group called Only Men Aloud that won a talent contest. This concert could be called the 'No Men Allowed' opera gala. A break from the SLO's tradition of having many singers, male and female for their past gala concerts, this one surprised me with only 3 singers, all female. Titled Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover, it was a very enchanting and lovely concert for me.
Despite there just being 3 singers, they did no less in providing a classy performance of fine singing. Nancy Yuen's silvery tones served her well in her arias and duets which included Ach ich fühl's, Je ve vivre, Mira o Norma, Sull'aria and Belle nuit. The high melismas in Ach ich fühl's provided some excitement for sure. I love the coloratura in Je ve vivre too. Together with Anna Koor, we hear the quickest cabaletta of the Norma duet ever. Un bel di was truly enchanting and it was rewarded with a very warm applause.

Cherylene Liew has a lighter voice which curiously showed some solid tones in the middle range. O mio babbino caro was very lovely though somewhat reserved. Her Song to the Moon was also lovely. Sull'aria with Nancy was also lovely!

Anna Koor sounded somewhat 'Russian' - that's the best I could describe the solid, dark mezzo that night. Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix was delicious, and the high Bb at the end was firm as rock and exciting. I did wish she took a longer ritardando both times before she sings the chorus section but I suspect that was tricky when the orchestra didn't allow enough space for it there. Stride la vampa was well sung but somewhat restrained. Hmm... maybe it was just me that a few numbers in the concert sounded restrained even though they were well sung. Anna's duets included Belle nuit and Mira o Norma. The interesting piece of the night is the rarely sung What a movie from Trouble in Tahiti by Bernstein. The complete work was rendered a very, very long time ago in Singapore and I remembered sitting in the audience perhaps more that 20 or 25 years ago. The orchestra here was up to the challenges of the piece. Anna was totally competent in her assumption of the operatic-musical style that the piece required. Unfortunately, the piece was less successful just because it was one where the singer would definitely need a microphone to ride above the prominent brass and percussion. The concert hall is not always kind to the solo voice. The final trio from Rosenkavalier is always a crowd pleaser and it sure did please. One can do no wrong with this lovely piece of soaring lines from singers and instruments.

Just a word about the hall's acoustics. When the solo voices are alone, they sounded great, though the echo factor could be a tad too much, causing the voices to disperse in the hall, especially when the orchestra accompanies them. My conclusion is that orchestral sounds work well but voices (especially solo voices) disperse too much.

Back to the performers. The orchestra was a star in it own right, giving wonderful renditions of 4 orchestral pieces from operas. I was particularly ecstatic with the Madama Butterfly Act 2 intermezzo. We all have heard so many complete Butterflys and I must say the orchestra's playing of this piece was way up there for me. The Triumphant March (it was abridged, I noticed) from Aida was a joy. The prelude to Tristan und Isolde had a shaky start and it was just alright for me after that. Manon Lescaut's Intermezzo was warm and the solo bits in the beginning was brilliant. Besides  Butterfly's Intermezzo, which I consider the star piece of the orchestra, I must single out the excellent playing of the accompaniment to Mon coeur s'ouvre a ta voix. The elements of the piece came together so well and the seduction and romance was palpable. However, I did wish for a great ritardando before each chorus section, as mentioned above.

I am sure everyone went home happy that they witnessed a lovely concert and I look forward to the next one. But before that, I believe Madama Butterfly is on the way in February!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

SLO's "Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover - A Celebration of Women in Opera"

SLO regulars Nancy Yuen, Anna Koor and Cherylene Liew return on 23 November (this coming Friday) for an all-girl gala entitled Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover - A Celebration of Women in Opera. We have already ran interviews with Nancy and Anna, but for some reason we have yet to have a chat with Cherylene, so here it is:


The Mad Scene: Hi Cherylene, thanks for doing this interview with The Mad Scene. Firstly, what will you be singing at Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover?

Cherylene Liew: It is a pleasure. I will be singing O Mio Babbino Caro from Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Měsíčku na nebi hlubokém (Song to the Moon) from Dvořák’s Rusalka, Sull’aria from Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, and the final trio from Strauss’ Der Rosenkavalier.

The Mad Scene: I’ve read rave reviews about your portrayal of Zerlina in the SLO’s Don Giovanni in February this year (although I was unable to attend it personally). Looking back how did you feel about that engagement?

Cherylene Liew: I really enjoyed singing the role of Zerlina in SLO’s Don Giovanni. I felt that the whole experience was enriching, especially because it is a bigger role than I have ever attempted on a professional level. I am quite pleased that the audience enjoyed my portrayal of Zerlina – that is something that I always set out to achieve the best I can.

The Mad Scene: Is the role of Zerlina a good fit for your voice and personality? How so?

Cherylene Liew: Well, when I was first offered the role, I was not too sure. However, as I did my background research and studied the role, I thought that the role started to sit right in my voice. With regards to personality, I do not think so, but that made learning the role a lot more fun. I had to learn to be Zerlina – she is quite a handful, I can tell you that!

The Mad Scene: I feel that the female characters in opera are often portrayed as frail women with tremendous inner strength facing down impossibly trying circumstances. It’s a bit of an over generalization but seems to apply for many pieces. Do you agree with this statement? Otherwise what’s your take on the art form’s portrayal of the fairer sex?

Cherylene Liew: On a general level, I do somewhat agree with you. However, I do not think that I would use the word “frail”. I think that the female characters in opera had to live within the social conventions of when the opera was written. Perhaps in our day and age, that might come across as frailty, but I reckon that the concept of frailty may be a result of the way in which they were presented. Just as contemporary art is the reflection of contemporary times, I suppose the portrayal of female characters in opera is very much the same. I think that female characters in opera are often portrayed as women who are unsuspectingly intelligent, more so than they let on, as well as resourceful human beings that have the tenacity to overcome impossibly trying circumstances.

The Mad Scene: I have quite a few friends who much prefer female voices to male ones, for their wider range, bigger repertoire and broader varieties (lyric, dramatic, coloratura, soubrette etc). What do you think is it about female operatic voices that is so fascinating to the non-singing public?

Cherylene Liew: I think it is the varied colour of the repertoire that is so fascinating to most. Women tend to express themselves more readily and freely. They almost need a sense of release when it comes to their emotions, sometimes it could be in the form of a flamboyant rave, or lighthearted banter. As such, I think the music composed for the female voice attempts to capture that quality, whether the emotion is one of sadness, happiness or hope.

The Mad Scene: What other upcoming engagements are on your schedule besides Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover?

Cherylene Liew: This upcoming concert will be the last big engagement for 2012, after which I would be taking my Christmas break. As for what happens in 2013, you will have to wait and see! ;)

The Mad Scene: Now that you have ‘conquered’ Zerlina as well as quite a few others with the SLO, what other roles are on your wishlist?

Cherylene Liew: Well, my wishlist may take a lifetime to fulfill! Some of the roles that I hope to sing would be Lauretta in Puccini’s Gianni Schicchi, Liu in Puccini’s Turandot, Wally in Catalani’s La Wally and perhaps Louise in Charpentier’s Louise, just to name a few. Some of these roles are big, but wishing big helps me to continually challenge myself.

The Mad Scene: What CDs or DVDs have you heard or seen recently? Care to recommend any?

Cherylene Liew: I have been listening to Renata Tebaldi – Arias and Duets. It is a 5-CD set that contains various recordings and performances that she did. Absolutely enchanting! Listen with a glass of Shiraz in hand.

The Mad Scene: Since we are discussing female voices here, let’s talk about that eternal conundrum that is: who do you prefer, Callas or Tebaldi?

Cherylene Liew: Well, you must have already guessed my answer – I prefer Tebaldi.

The Mad Scene: Lastly, tell us why we should all come and hear Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover?

Cherylene Liew: I think that it would be an enchanting musical experience. There are such a variety of arias and orchestral pieces in the concert programme, from the elegant music of Mozart to the passionate and intense music of Strauss. There is of course one other thing, in that the concert celebrates women in opera – something we rarely get the opportunity to appreciate in the one concert.


The SLO Gala Mother, Daughter, Wife and Lover - A Celebration of Women in Opera takes place this coming Friday 23 November 2012. Visit our Events Page for ticketing details.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Promising Ang Moh Singers Kiss Communist A$$

Young singers are always on the lookout for exciting new opportunities, so when Mainland China jumps on the arts education bandwagon and stages a luxurious 5 week training camp to learn Chinese art songs, off they hop to the Motherland!

This highlights video captures the excitement of the sessions as  the finest young singers from the USA, Europe and South America twist their tongues over hanyu pinyin lessons, 'yo'! and 'hey!' over coaching sessions and master the finer points of Chinese folk singing in order to perform their selection of 'patriotic' concert arias. Metropolitan Opera star Tian Hao-Jiang is obviously the best choice to oversee such an endeavor that also includes trainers from both the Met and the Mainland. Facebook updates be damned, the Little Red Book is in once again!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

SLO Art Exhibition in Support of Voice Scholarship - 15 - 18 Nov 2012

Here's more info:


Dear Friends

The Old Parliament House , Intercultural Theatre Institute and Singapore Lyric Opera has a joint project, Artworks, to raise funds so that needy students are able to have the opportunity to learn singing as in the case of SLO where we offer 10 singing scholarships to young children to join our Children’s Choir and have one of the best times of their lives ; OPH for their BT Budding Arts Fund and ITI for their acting students.

We are hoping to raise more money from the remaining paintings at Affordable Art Fair, happening from 15 to 18 November 2012, which kindly gave Artworks a booth to sell these reminding paintings. Unsold paintings by the end of December 2012 will be returned back to BT Arts Fund/OPH.

Look forward to your support and if you know of friends who collects paintings or interested in their bit for charity, we appreciate your kindness.

Ms Ng Siew Eng
General Manager
Singapore Lyric Opera Limited

SingTel NewsLoop Now on iPhone

SingTel's NewsLoop app is now available on iPhone! Here's more info from their press release:

NewsLoop – Now on the iPhone!
Since its launch on the iPad in July 2012, NewsLoop has become Singapore’s favourite news app in the Apple App Store. With the iPhone version, the best selection of content from over 230 top local and international media sources in 26 categories of stories is in the palm of your hand. NewsLoop is available for free download on the App Store.

All the latest news now in your pocket 
NewsLoop gathers all your favourite local and international news and content, and presents it in one easy-to-use app. The design of the app cuts out all the clutter, allowing for easy navigation while on the go.

Local providers:
- The Mad Scene
- Channel NewsAsia
- The Online Citizen
- I-S Magazine
- ieatishootipost
- PropertyGuru
- sgCarMart
- Nylon Singapore
- inSing

International content providers:
- Bloomberg
- ESPN The Guardian
- Mashable
- TechCrunch
- MTV Asia
- Reuters

Please refer to for a full list of content sources.

New Features
•NewsLoop is optimised for the iPhone 5 to offer a superb news reading experience on the go.

•Current users of NewsLoop can access their personalised NewsLoop profile on both their iPhone and their iPad. This means that the smart app, which has learnt your news preferences over time, can continue to recommend articles that appeal to you!

•Apart from continuing to provide articles in a fresh and easy-to-read magazine-style format, the app has also been updated to allow readers to preview the latest headlines in Hot Topics before deciding if they want to read the detailed story.

•Readers no longer have to scan through long lists of posts and click on link after link. Instead, they can enjoy quick access to all stories and images with a few swipes, making it simpler and more entertaining than ever to discover, view and share content.

•The app now enables users to add news feeds and timelines from LinkedIn and Tumblr in addition to Facebook and Twitter. This gives readers more options to share articles either via email, social networks or SMSes.

For more information, please visit
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Private Lessons with Cynthia Haymon

World-renowned soprano Cynthia Haymon  (Bess in Sir Simon Rattle's recording of Porgy and Bess) is currently in Singapore till 24 November and would like to give a few private lessons to locally-based singers. Check out details below:


Dear Singers,

The world renowned Soprano and voice teacher Prof. Cynthia Haymon who is currently based in the US will be in Singapore from 8 - 24 November.

Cynthia has recently been appointed the artistic director of the newly set-up Singapore based Metropolitan Productions. Amongst other things, Metropolitan aims to provide the training and platform for local performing artists to hone their skills on stage. It also aims to stage original commercial productions of international standards.

In light of an upcoming musical production scheduled to be staged in 2014, Cynthia is conducting a series of voice lessons to allow her a better understanding of the level of talent in Singapore. Her fees are SGD100. This is the first trip to Singapore for Cynthia and will be a once in a lifetime opportunity for aspiring and established singers to receive personalized training from Cynthia.

Please email to schedule a lesson.

Artistic Director and Master Voice Teacher

American Soprano Cynthia Haymon,
Professor of Voice at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Bess in Grammy Award Winner Porgy and Bess

“Cynthia Haymon, a powerful, expressive soprano, made an eloquent case for his almost Straussian "Worthwhile," the sentimental, slightly folksy "Prayer" and two other sweetly melodic settings.” – The New York Times

Perhaps best known around the world as Bess in Porgy and Bess, Ms. Haymon made her debut in 1985 in the title role of Thea Musgrave's Harriet, A Woman called Moses, in the world-premiere performance for the Virginia Opera. Since then, her career has taken her around the United States with engagements that include Micaela in Carmen with the San Francisco Opera and Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro and Liu in Turandot with the Seattle Opera. In 1986 she made her European debut as Bess in Trevor Nunn's production of Porgy and Bess at Glyndebourne, with Sir Simon Rattle. She also created the role of Coretta King in the musical King, opposite Simon Estes in London's West End. In concert, Ms. Haymon appeared with the Israel Philharmonic under Kurt Masur, the London Symphony Orchestra under both Myung-Whun Chung and Michael Tilson Thomas, the Cleveland Orchestra under Isaiah Jackson, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of Ned Rorem's Swords and Plowshares.

Ms. Haymon performed in the world premieres of Portriats by Richard Danielpour, with Yo-Yo Ma and Emmanuel Ax, and John Williams' first song cycle, Seven for Luck. Ms. Haymon's first solo recording, Where the Music Comes From: American Songs, on Decca's Argo Label, features art songs by American composers. She also portrays Bess on the EMI recording of Porgy and Bess with composer Sir Simon Rattle, which was recorded from the original Glynebourne production and won a 1990 Grammy Award. She has sung the role of Leila in Les Pecheurs de Perles for Portland Opera, Eileen in Bernstein's Wonderful Town, and Poppea in Pierre Audi's production at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York. Other engagements have included Liu for the Portland Opera, Verdi's Te Deum, Mendelssohn's Elijah, with James Conlon and the Cincinnati Symphony, Mimi in La Boheme, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and Philip Glass' Symphony No. 5, with Carl St. Clair and the Indianapolis Symphony.

Teaching Philosophy
As a vocal instructor, I discover what each student brings to the student/teacher relationship while guiding and inspiring the innate artistic instinct of each student. Since I fundamentally believe singing is the murmuring of the soul, I firmly believe in simple un-manipulated tonal production. For me, that means singing on the breath with a low abdominal connection, forward placement and a relaxed body without neck, jaw and tongue tension. I believe whole-heartedly in the total singing actress/actor; which means movement, languages, good body alignment and musical versatility. I believe that today's artist cannot afford to be limited to opera, but has to be willing to explore many musical genres. I also firmly believe that young singers should sound like young singers. While not forsaking the natural vocal timbre, young singers should be encouraged to preserve their youthful sound while allowing their voices to develop naturally on a solid technique! Finally, I believe in communication and the power of the universal language of music.

Video clips: PL046281723FA35CC3

Please contact Alvin Tan at for further information or call +65 8533 4652.

A Latin American Christmas

Christmas season is coming once again and the International Festival Chorus Singapore presents their annual festive offering, a Latin-American programme that also features the Oratorio de Noël by Saint-Saëns. Tickets include drinks and finger-food too! Check out their write-up here:


A Latin American Christmas
A Choral Concert by the International Festival Chorus Singapore

The International Festival Chorus Singapore invites you to kick-start December with an evening of Christmas music with A Latin American Christmas on Saturday, 1 December 2012.

A Latin American Christmas features Oratorio de Noël by Camille Saint-Saëns, and an enchanting selection of carols, spirituals and hymns from the Americas - performed both a capella as well as with exciting instrumental accompaniments from talented musicians in the Chorus.

 The evening ends with an audience singalong of well-loved classics. All members of the audience are invited to drinks and canapés at the foyer of the Lee Foundation Theatre after the concert.

The International Festival Chorus is an all-volunteer nonprofit group with the simple aim of sharing the pleasure of choral music. Since its beginnings in 1974, the Chorus has had the pleasure of meeting and working with music lovers from all over the world. IFC members represent a diverse set of nationalities and occupations, coming together simply because they love to sing. The IFC’s website is at

Concert Details
Saturday 1 December 2012
Lee Foundation Theatre, NAFA Campus 3
151 Bencoolen Street
Singapore 189656
Tickets | Adults S$25, Concession S$10

Ticket prices are inclusive of post-concert drinks and canapés. Please email to reserve your seats.

Advent Concert: A Blessed Reunion

Check out this free Christmas-themed concert by Matthew Chua and Teng Xiang-Ting, accompanied by Dorothy Chia:

Advent Concert: A Blessed Reunion
14th December 2012

Join us for our third installment of an evening of sacred arias and warm Christmas tunes this 14th (Friday) December 2012 at St Mary of the Angels. Come and bask in the voices of tenor Matthew Chua and soprano Teng Xiang Ting, as they are accompanied by the skillful hands of Dorothy Chia. This is certainly an evening not to be missed for everyone. Entrance is free.

Find out how to get to the church on their website:

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Interview with Sabrina Zuber

The popular Bellepoque series return for a fifth installment from 28 November to 1 December 2012. It is a murder mystery set on the famous Orient Express train route which runs from Paris to Istanbul (Wikipedia page here). We speak to producer-cum-performer Sabrina Zuber to find out more about what to expect in this new production:

Monday, November 5, 2012

Introducing Cheng Hai-Yun (鄭海芸)

Cheng Hai-Yun is a lyric-mezzo and a fast rising star in Taiwan's classical music scene. Having already earned a doctorate in vocal classical music at the Boston University while still in her mid-thirties, she teaches at a few universities and schools in Taiwan (including my own Soochow University) and performs in many high-profile performances on the island. While in the US she had received lessons from Simon Estes and sung with the Boston Baroque.

But despite a growing teaching career, she is still very much a contender in the competitive field of live opera performance. Roles she has performed include Carmen, Meg Page (in Falstaff), Prince Orlovsky (in Die Fledermaus) and Kate Pinkerton (in Madama Butterfly) plus supporting roles in Sour Angelica and Elektra. Her signature role is definitely Cherubino in The Marriage of Figaro, a part that she has inhabited for many years and performed in numerous productions around the island.

Here are some clips of her singing. You may contact her at for any information or opportunities for collaboration.

Voi che sapete (from 'Le Nozze di Figaro') - Cheng Hai-Yun 鄭海芸

Parto, parto (from 'La Clemenza di Tito') - Hai-Yun Cheng 鄭海芸

Una voce poco fa (from 'Il Barbiere di Silviglia') - Hai-Yun Cheng 鄭海芸

Saturday, November 3, 2012

'Company' in Review

Stephen Sondheim - Company
Produced by Dream Academy Productions
The Drama Centre, Singapore
2nd Nov 2012

Peter Ong (Bobby), Tan Kheng Hua (Joanne), Karen Tan (Jenny), Brendon Fernandez (David), Petrina Kow (Amy), Matt Grey (Larry), Ivan Choong (Peter), Rebecca Spykerman (Susan), Tim Garner (Paul), Juwanda Hassim (Harry), Candice De Rozario (Sarah), Seong Hui-Xuan (April), Glory Ngim (Kathy) and Mina Kaye (Martha).

Directed by Hossan Leong
Choreographed by George Chan

A review by Hawk Liu

It was the greatest pleasure to be watching Sondheim's Company last night. This show joined the 'company' of other hit shows, including Into the Woods, La Cage, Spring Awakening and Victor Victoria, all of which were produced in recent years in Singapore by Singaporean 'companies' - I couldn't resist the word play.

When I walked into the auditorium and saw the set, I thought - what a beautiful set! It was a very classy living room with a high ceiling and elegant, modern lights. There was a long straight stairway running down across the upstage. The expensive-looking living room had 3 levels where the difference in heights served as shelf space for props and things. One side of the living room extended upwards into an upper level which became a spacious open-air balcony. The downstage end of that balcony led to a fireman's pole where one could slid down into the living room space! A grand piano sat at the right upstage level against very tall glass windows, beyond which was the backdrop of other tall buildings, and that was also where the band musicians sat. Later in the musical, we saw the shelves on the upstage left open into a pull-down bed for a delicious love scene! The lowest living room level was much extended into the audience space that it felt as if we were right in the living room itself. I was really impressed with the set! What a great start to a wonderful experience.