Last night, the Lee Foundation Theatre at Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (NAFA) was filled with laughter and abuzz with excitement as its curtains rose to present its inaugural opera production, Die Fledermaus: The Revenge of the Bat. On its Gala night, the on-stage energy and comedic moments delighted the 300-strong audience, as they revelled in the captivating and unique performance during the two-and-a-half hour show.
Johann Strauss II’s Die Fledermaus was premièred in 1874 at the Vienna Theater an der Wien, and is arguably the world’s most performed operetta. This production, directed by renowned director David Edwards, has been contemporised to a modern Singapore context. Customised by Jasmine Teo, a Singaporean playwright, dialogues were delivered in English, Chinese and peppered with Singlish by the different characters in the show.
Led by Singapore preeminent conductor and Cultural Medallion recipient, Lim Yau, members of the cast, along the 55-member NAFA Orchestra and the 40-member choir (trained by Goh Toh Chai, NAFA’s Head of Composition), delivered a musically strong and effective performance. Sopranos Li Yang and Elaine Su - both alumni from the NAFA School of Music - displayed energy and coloratura flair, while Baritones Kieran Rayner and Edward Jowle from the International Opera School of NAFA’s partner university, the Royal College of Music, counterbalanced with charm and wit. Singaporean Baritone Daniel Fong and Tenor Jeremy Koh added a distinctly local twist to the vocal mix while NAFA School of Music’s Head of Voice, Mezzo Soprano Jessica Chen, furnished deep resonance in her cameo trouser role.
Notable alumni were featured in the show-in-show segment of the production. In Act 2 on Gala night, Indonesian pop star Isyana Sarasvati appeared as a guest singer, mesmerising the audience both on stage and off stage with a song of her own composition. Young Artist Award winners Lim Chin Huat and Hong Sek Chern also enchanted audiences with a performance and a demonstration of Chinese painting skills respectively, along to the NAFA Chinese Chamber Ensemble’s world premiere performance of a specially-commissioned composition for this occasion, led by NAFA School of Music’s Head of Chinese Instruments Sunny Wong. Lim Chin Huat will continue to perform on the following two nights, with artists Anthony Chua and Chua Poh Leng showcasing their artistic skills on the second and third night respectively.
The show will be on for two more nights - 22 and 23 October 2018. As part of the production, there will be a staged arts street which will open one hour before the show. Audience can walk into a street of music buskers and arts stalls, immersing themselves into the ambience before the show starts.