Monday, 25 November 2013


I was not going to review this concert as my knowledge of Teochew opera is next to nothing, but was determined to attend it in order to keep in touch with my Teochew roots. My maternal grandmother was a thoroughbred Teochew although she was born in Penang, Malaya. The Teochews are one of the major Chinese dialect groups in Singapore, its members having emigrated from the coastal areas of Southern China to Nanyang (Southeast Asia) in search of a better life. Many succeeded to become pillars of the Chinese community in Singapore. 

I also wanted treat my 90-year-old grand-aunt (also a Teochew) to some nostalgia, as she loved watching Teochew opera on television until the authorities banned all dialect programmes during the early 1980s, replacing them with Mandarin programmes (an unfortunate casualty of the Speak Mandarin Campaign). I remember her bringing me to watch the Teochew opera in the streets of Georgetown, Penang when I was seven or eight years old. I was sort of bored but was fascinated by the four or five instrumentalists who accompanied the whole wayang. It is our loss that Chinese street theatre is a dying art, and there are far less opportunities these days to partake of these spectacles.

The first part of the concert was helmed by Chen Zuo Hui,
a specialist in Teochew percussion.

Maestro Tsung Yeh leads in Zou Hang's
Buddha Jumps Over The Wall,
a contemporary piece with chants by the players.

Operatic excerpts began with Chen Lian Zhong singing two arias
from Concubine of the Later Shu and Return of the Official Title.

Sun Xiao Hua sang Melodies of the Bamboo and Wind
and Sighs of Empress Wu.

Tan Hock Lye was an impressive presence
in Lack of Thought in a Moment.

This was not a trio as each of the singers sang separately.
Here Goh Hui Ling begins in Sweetness in One's Heart.

Chua Ai Peck performed the trousers role.

Doreen Low completed the three part aria.

Sun Xiao Hua and Chen Lian Zhong in
Cease Your Anger, My Lady.

All six singers appeared in Wu Dian Xiang's Blooms of Nam Hwa,
composed for the 50th anniversary of Nam Hwa Opera.

Deserved applause for all the performers.

All photographs by kind courtesy of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra.

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