March 26, 2007


In case you have not noticed, there is a link to
Chinese opera performances

on the right ===>>

March 23, 2007

Cantonese wayang at Sims Drive

On the first day of the second month in the lunar calendar there are cantonese street opera shows at some temples. This is part of the thanksgiving to the Gods. The opera troupe is from HK but it may also include a few performers from places like Macao, Malaysia and Singapore. Most fans usually come to see the lead stars from HK.

On the first night there is always this piece of opera called Liu Guo (
六國大封相). The full version lasts more than an hour; but for street opera it is usually about 45 minutes. The street opera group will have to get extra performers for this.

There were three such thanksgiving opera shows - at Toa Payoh, Whampoa and Sims Drive. They lasted between 3 to 4 days.

I was at Sims Drive because it was the nearest.

The stage at Sims Drive was quite small and the backstage was very congested on the first night. It was very warm and humid. Imagine more than a dozen people putting on their costumes and the dressing-assistants going round to help them. Among these were 6 who were acting as warriors and had to put on their armour costume together with flags sticking up on their back.

The lead xiaosheng was Lau Wai Meng and the lead huadan was Ko Lai. The second sheng was Aw Bun Feng. I think it was the first time I saw him. He is quite good.

There were about three young performers I have not seen in the previous year. Later I went backstage to talk to one of them. She said it was their first time here. I asked her if she belonged to any troupe in HK. She said they were not actually ‘performers’ yet but were students learning the art in some association. I think they were here to gain experience and exposure. They were acting only minor roles like palace maids with few singing parts and little dialogue.

This troupe is not bad, at least they got more maids, villagers, etc. There was one year the poor princess didn’t even have a single palace maid to accompany her in one scene.

lead sheng 劉惠

lead dan 高麗

second sheng 區品峰

second dan 翠縈

palace maids, Lum Lum & Vivian


the messy backstage


March 16, 2007

Wu Opera 婺剧

These 3 Wu operas were performed by the Zhejiang Qu Zhou Wu Opera Troupe. They were part of the Chinese Opera Festival organized by CTC at the end of 1999 and crossed over to 2000. I only watched 1 Wu opera show.

The Monkey God

Empress Wu Zetian

The Beauty and the Warrior

March 15, 2007

Opera magazines

Here are some Chinese opera magazines I have.

I used to buy these 3 magazines every month. They take up a lot of storage space. So now I buy occasionally. I Judge by the content page. If got my favourite artistes on the cover I also buy.

These are souvenir magazines when foreign troupes performed here. Not many. I think on the average about three foreign troupes come every year.

These are souvenir magazines of performances of local artistes and troupes. Also not many. Two magazines in the picture are showcase performances by Christopher Choo and Aw Yeong Peng Mun. Christopher is a well-known lao sheng though he is actually a young man. Peng Mun is Singapore’s male hua dan.

These are magazines of performances I watched in HK and China. Very few. The troupes there usually don’t publish magazines of their performances because they perform regularly.

March 14, 2007

Make hay while the sun shines

I thought of this proverb when SFM Tharman said this is the right time to raise the gst. In case you don't know, hay is a type of grass farmers use to feed their cattle. The proverb means something like if you have the opportunity to do something do it now as you may not be able to do it later.

You can apply this to your life too.

March 13, 2007


I was thinking of going to the IT show to look at some cameras. But then the news said thousands of people were thronging the place. So I didn’t go.

I have not bought any digital camera myself. The one I have was given by Starhub together with a 3-in-1 printer when I renewed my subscription. That was 3 or 4 years ago. This camera has 2 main disadvantages – the battery runs out fast and there is no ‘anti-shake’ software.

Nowadays I seldom use this camera. Most of the recent pictures you see in this blog were taken with my handphone.

For example, this one:
This one was taken with my MP3 player. But it is spoilt now because I dropped it into a drain.

March 11, 2007

Good and cheap

This evening I was waiting at a car park. Suddenly a van drove up beside me. The driver asked me for directions to the food center nearby. I told him the way. Then all of a sudden he asked me if I wanted some good quality sound equipment…very cheap he said.

I told him I was not interested but he kept on babbling away. Finally I said ‘told you not interested already; even you give me free I also don’t want’. That did it; he drove away without another word.

Then I remember last November or December a boy and a girl came to my flat to sell something (can’t remember what). The boy said they needed money to buy textbooks. I looked at them for a moment and said ‘you tell me your school, I ask your school to help you’. Apparently they didn’t like my idea; so they walked away.

From what I can remember,
Last year a woman came to sell key-chains, said she lost her job; a man came to ask for donations, said he got many illnesses; and recently two men came to offer me red packets with 4-D numbers inside for $2.

March 09, 2007

Local Chinese Opera

“I know if Pavarotti comes, we can pay $200 for one ticket because he is cool. But for local traditional opera, we have to give tickets away and plead for people to come. If that continues, we are going to kill our own culture.”…..Chen Soo Sen, MP for Joo Chiat, speaking at the budget debate in parliament.

Mr Chen was saying that the Singapore brand is good but is not cool. So in order to make people pay good money to see good performances of the local variety, we have to develop a cool Singapore image.

Well, how to make Chinese opera cool? Change? Reinvent? Chinese opera in English? I have no answer.

For Chinese opera, local artistes can tell you it is a difficult job putting up an opera show and trying to push ticket sale. Promoting Chinese opera is thankless and relentless work.

Some Chinese opera fans are not supportive of local performances, even good ones. They say foreign troupes are better. Quite true. But local groups also have good artistes and good shows, even full-length operas. And even if they are not as good as foreign artistes, I feel that many local shows are still worth watching and supporting.

Local artistes are generally dedicated to their arts and enthusiastic about their performance. I watched an excerpt at a cc last month. The hua dan was so immersed in her role. Her singing was not very good but her movements were elegant and her enthusiasm was palpable. It was like perfume, its vapour spreading to the audience. You could see that the audience enjoyed the show… and the artiste enjoyed performing.

March 07, 2007


Housewives are not low-wage workers, they are the core pillars of the family. They deserved a lot more appreciation….said Mr Lim Swee Say, NTUC chief.

I agree with that. Children should show more appreciation to their mothers and husbands to their wives.

Not just on mother’s day or just buy them presents and bring them out to expensive meals. Show them more care, consideration and concern.

Similarly I feel we should also not take our friends, even close ones, for granted. For example, we still have to say words like ‘thank you’ or to mind their sensitivities.

重按霓裳花絮 video

March 06, 2007

Jubilee Theatre, 4 March 2006

This is Ng Lai Si, 吳麗詩. I would give her the best performer of the night award. She gave a stirring performance of Lu Bu, 呂布.



I have no chance to take the photos of other artistes and some of the photos are quite blur. So just 3 pictures.

March 05, 2007

Car expenditure

Just paid my car insurance ($509) and 6 months road tax ($475) and also did a servicing ($170). The total came up to whopping $1154. So I did a simple ‘car budget’. Replacement of items, repairs, fines and inspection fees are not included. These are difficult to estimate.

Item Cost
season parking
outside parking $480
insurance $509
road tax $950
servicing $510

See, average a hefty $398/month.

Petrol, the major item, could be considered transport expenditure as this money will be used for transport if I don’t have a car. One fixed big-money item is road tax. It is independent of usage, no difference if you drive 100km or 10 km daily.

Any ‘less road tax more usage tax’ would be good news to people like me..

Hopefully there will be rebates on road tax and season parking in future government budgets. Also hope oil prices will drop.

March 02, 2007

戰場 Battle scene

In Chinese opera a battle scene generally consists of several fighting scenes. This can be quite long. In such case there will a great display of acrobatic and gymnastic skills as well as some stunts and difficult operatic moves. A fighting scene usually ends with the warrior executing a few moves and then together with the soldiers, they strike a pose. The pose only lasts for about 5 sec. The audience will clap to show their appreciation.

This clip shows a general leading his men to battle. A short fighting scene follows. The warrior does a somersault followed by a ‘spread-legs’ jump and then another jump with a full-circle twist and finally they all strike a pose.

The actors with flags stuck in their back are warriors. The lad in green is the stable-boy. He leads the horse to the leader. The warrior in the foreground is Leong Siu Meng.

a somersault.....

.....a 'spread-legs' jump.....