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Western opera can trace its earliest roots all the way back to ancient Greece, and it became popular in 16th century Italy before spreading to the rest of Europe. That may sound like this art form is very removed from modern life, much less modern life in an Asian city like Singapore.
But as it turns out, opera—with its potent combination of music, drama, visual art, text and dance—still has a powerful resonance in contemporary life, and yes, that includes contemporary Singapore.
For starters, opera’s continued presence in popular culture means iconic arias don’t just ring out in concert halls, but also in some of the most memorable sequences in cinematic history.
In Singapore, homegrown companies are also finding new ways to present classic operas—from shorter and snazzier productions that can better connect with today’s audiences, to fresh interpretations that speak to prevailing social issues.
There is also a whole new world beyond the classics. The themes of contemporary operas, including those created by Singaporeans, range from the fate of a domestic worker to all that lies unspoken in parent-child relationships.
In this episode hosted by theatre-maker Edith Podesta, find out more about how opera is evolving with the times, through insights from Reuben Lai and Akiko Otao of L’Arietta Productions, Jeremy Chiew of New Opera Singapore, Jonathan Charles Tay and David Charles Tay of The Opera People, and Gena Ng of Singapore Lyric Opera.
Artist: hauste (FB/IG: @haustesound)
Publisher: Maker Records (FB/IG: @MakerRecordsGrp)
The Valkyrie, composed by Richard Wagner, performed by Orchestra of the Music Makers
Turandot composed by Giacomo Puccini, libretto by Giuseppe Adami and Renato Simoni, performed by Singapore Lyric Opera
La Traviata, composed by Giuseppe Verdi, libretto by Francesco Maria Piave, performed by Singapore Lyric Opera
Don Giovanni, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, performed by Singapore Lyric Opera
Così fan tutte, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte, performed by Singapore Lyric Opera
Fences, composed by John Sharpley, libretto by Robert Yeo, performed by OperaViva, featuring David Quah and Akiko Otao
The Rake's Progress, composed by Igor Stravinsky, libretto by W. H. Auden and Chester Kallman, performed by New Opera Singapore, featuring Alan Lau
The Telephone, composed by Gian Carlo Menotti, performed by New Opera Singapore, featuring Min Seong Kang
La Voix Humaine, composed by Francis Poulenc, based on The Human Voice by Jean Cocteau, performed by New Opera Singapore, featuring Victoria Songwei Li
A Singapore Trilogy: Laksa Cantata, composed by Chen Zhangyi, libretto by Jack Lin, performed by L’arietta Productions, featuring Samuel Ng and Ng Jingyun
A Singapore Trilogy: Window Shopping, composed by Chen Zhangyi, libretto by Jack Lin, performed by L’arietta Productions, featuring Akiko Otao
A Singapore Trilogy: Kopi For One, composed by Chen Zhangyi, libretto by Jack Lin, performed by L’arietta Productions, featuring Yee Ee-Ping, Akiko Otao and Jonathan Charles Tay
Idomeneo, composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, libretto by Giambattista Varesco, performed by The Opera People, featuring Felicia Teo Kaixin, Teng Xiang Ting, Joyce Lee Tung, Jonathan Charles Tay and Leslie Tay
This episode of Making A Scene is commissioned by Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in conjunction with Voices – A Festival of Song. It is produced by Hong Xinyi.
Making A Scene is an Esplanade podcast about how art gets made. In this series, artists reflect on topical issues and connections that bind them across art forms and countries, and talk about what inspires their art.