Wednesday, 22 April 2015

FAREWELL, SINGAPORE'S MR OPERA: LEOW SIAK FAH (1939-2014)




Singapore's opera community was shocked and saddened by the passing of Mr Leow Siak Fah, Founding Chairman of the Singapore Lyric Opera, on 14 April 2015 in Germany. To many who grew up in Singapore during the 1980s and 1990s, when Western opera was a rarity here, he was Mr Opera himself. He sang the major tenor roles in local productions, while single-handedly cajoling and bankrolling opera in Singapore, first through the National University of Singapore Society, and the Singapore Lyric Theatre (SLT), which became established as the Singapore Lyric Opera (SLO) in 1999.

He was tenor, director and producer of many of the 1990s SLT productions. Among his favourite roles were Don Jose (Carmen), Alfredo Germont (La Traviata), Rodolfo (La Boheme), Cavaradossi (Tosca), Danilo (The Merry Widow) and Tevye (Fiddler on the Roof). There were two services held at Mount Vernon Sanctuary: 13 April (Monday) was a formal church service while 14 (Tuesday) was a concert service. Many of Singapore's opera community turned up and performed, and so did members of Mr Leow's family, including his beloved wife Dr Ling Ai Ee who played the keyboard, which showed that there are such things as musical genes. 

There were tears, and there were plenty more smiles when the music flowed like champagne in Act One of La Traviata. It was a celebration of his life in music, and we are sure that Mr Leow would not have wanted it any other way.


Malaysian tenor Peter Ong in Londonderry Air,
accompanied by Dr Ling Ai Ee on the piano.
Mr Leow's three grandchildren also sang,
Caitlyn Tan, Leow Tian Ahn and Tian Ping.
Both of Mr Leow's children, Huei Hsien
and Tze Wen touched many hearts with their singing.
Malotte's The Lord's Prayer.
Two teachers from Ossia Music School,
founded by Mr Leow, also performed.
Family friend Dr Raymond Ng, family physician and filk maker,
 brought out many smiles with his humorous and
endearing anecdotes about Mr Leow Siak Fah
Agnus Dei
Tenor Melvin Tan said his generation of singers owed
a debt of gratitude to Mr Leow, as he had inspired them
to go professional. He sang You Raise Me Up.
The ageless sopranp Nancy Yuen hit all the
high notes of the Bach-Gounod Ave Maria.
Chinese tenor Yu Jixing in O Sole Mio.
Chinese barione Zhang Feng in
Bizet's Toreador Song (Carmen)
Mezzo-soprano Anna Koor and baritone William Lim
had been the first to sing.
All the singers joined in for the
Brindisi (Drinking Song) from Verdi's La Traviata.


If Mr Leow Siak Fah's life were a performance, he surely deserves a standing ovation. We will all miss you dearly.

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