Runs on food and music, will sing for chips and pasta.

Friday, July 13, 2018

The Gingerbread Witch Diary - FB post @ July 13

July 13th, 2018 - Danny & Soon Yoon 

The witch and her producers - This loving and “incestuous” threesome of Soon Yoon HoDanny Chen and myself, not unlike a few other ‘liaisons’ that I have with Malaysian thespians and music folks. We have all worked together as stage lovers, family, people of Peking (Turandot in 2003!), and other fun theatre outings. 

And fast forward to more than a decade later, I’m a proudest friend with these two - for their colossal hard work and passion in bringing classical music and operatic works into Malaysian life. What kind of boring artsy landscape we’d have if not for such crazy dreamers and doers like Danny and Soon Yoon? I’m a proud unapologetic fan girl since the inception of EST (Eat, Sing, Travel), now Kuala Lumpur City Opera.

I’ve been playing audience in almost every single productions (having missed only one show ever) presented by KLCO. Fast forward again to now, a week fresh off after I wrapped my first show with my two old friends, this time playing the role of my producers - I’m such a blessed soul to come one full circle with these two - co-actors, friends and now my producers. Just thinking of this brings a smile to my face 🙂 ...they’re always there at my solo concerts and I’m there at their operas. 

May our friendships AND KLCO’s good work grow ever more and let the music play on 🙂 it ain’t over till the fat lady sings!


The Gingerbread Witch Diary - FB post @ July 11

July 11, 2018 - Cecilia Yap 

This is a funny woman, Cecilia Yap - in more ways than one, I kid you not. It’s funny that many years ago, her reputation in the voice industry that I know of was she’s fierce; but when I started singing lessons with her, she was anything but fierce in class - she’s funny and witty, and even a bit silly sometimes, she's honest and steadfastly holds on to insist that students work and sing with healthy habits and technique - the essentials of a good teacher. 

I will always recall with a smile, of how she convinced me to audition and later accept the Gingerbread Witch role. You see, she undersold the level of difficulty of the music and praised highly of the amount of fun and self development I’d get in singing the role (well she’s more than right about the latter). 

When I whined and ranted about the music she always responded with a hearty laugh and told me I’d be fine if I work at it. At rehearsals with her as vocal director, I marvel at her imagination and exquisite direction in shaping our vocals for each of our characters. 

Thank You laoshi, for your trust and faith in my ‘manic-ness’ and abilities 🙂I had the best times of my life! XoXo


The Gingerbread Witch Diary - FB post @ July 10

July 10, 2018 - Juan Montoya 

This man gave new meaning to the song [Can’t Take My Eyes Off You] - conductor  Juan Montoya ...All of it was new to me - well not anymore since last week! - to sing and act on a big stage without taking my eyes off the conductor and his baton. 

My colleagues assured me I’d get very clear conducting from him before we started rehearsal; but when we started music rehearsals, I found that he’s also a world class human being in being patient, understanding and encouraging to singers and musicians. 

Opening night was extra interesting for me - the jitters and new ‘mechanics’ of singing in opera, etc. Not flinching a bit, he reassured me I would do better and fine the next one up, if I would just trust my work (and review the score!). When the show closed on Sunday afternoon, I can confidently say that I know how and when to breathe and enter a vocal cue when working with an orchestra and conductor. 

The witch had to prance around the stage throughout her entire scene and I felt Juan’s guidance with me through all the passages. It was such an enormous privilege for me to have worked on such challenging music and role as a newbie. I’m still having music hangover from the production. Thank You maestro Juan for the wonderful hand-holding and your trust. See you soon this November from the audience seat in the Puccini outing! And then wine!


The Gingerbread Witch Diary - FB post @ July 10

July 10, 2018 

Dominique Devorsine and I were trying to recall how we met all those many years ago, I did a bad job in remembering and she remembered better. Fast forward to more than 17/18 years after we met (and many productions later), she recently designed this costume for my Gingerbread Witch role in Kuala Lumpur City Opera's staging of Humperdinck’s Hansel  & Gretel opera. 

This flamboyant and obviously maniac vibe of the costume design is quite a departure from the look we did (last photo in this series) at the publicity photo shoot months ago. Each time she pins the wig on me and as I lace up my 6-inch or more platform boots to climb up to the 9-feet tall set where my gingerbread house sits, I couldn’t help but know that this getup is doing half of the work to bring the character to life, the other half starts when my music and my vocals come on, with the lighting designer’s work. 

Thank you old friend Dominique for your (yet again) ingenious design and your art direction on my makeup, and Eunice Ng for executing it beautifully...and boy am I glad that I found the most comfortable and wicked pair of boots in Sg Wang. 

Photos by Eunice, Cynthia TanChong See Ming and Sean of Pixel Pics for the publicity photo. 


The Gingerbread Witch Diary - FB post @ July 9

July 9, 2018 

All over in a blink of an eye. Baby step for me, learning not to mourn the end but to celebrate the event. Cast party for Hansel & Gretel last night was everything it should be for me - relaxed, silly, poignant, moving, joyful, melancholy, loving; in celebrating comradeship, family, friendship, music, art, passion for living abundantly. 
For now, I miss the lush music, the set, our ensemble (principles, kids, chorus), the musicians, the crew, our creatives, the green room conversations, the dressing room shenanigans, the makeup rush, my broom and my wand...yet I’m reminded for exactly that, I shall move on to continuously cherish each coming project as if it’s my last day...before you get pushed into the oven. 
Viva la music, thank you Kuala Lumpur City Opera and Englebert Humperdinck 🙂 see you again soon all my new friends from Hansel & Gretel! 


The Gingerbread Witch Diary - Facebook Post @ May 16

May 16th, 2018: 

Long post here>

Late last year one night when I was out drinking beer with some jazz kakis I got a call from laoshi Cecilia Yap, inviting me to audition for a part in an opera this year. She assured me that it would be a wonderful opportunity for me as a singer and performer to play the role of The Gingerbread Witch in Hansel & Gretel (in English). She even said that if I took it up, I would finish learning the music fast.

I accepted the invitation and started learning the 12-page long of rather complicated music with the very talented and very patient pianist Soon Kun Ming. I remember midway through my practice one day, I left voice memos for Cecilia through WhatsApp, wailing and crying about how hard the music is. She replied me with another voice memo: laughing at my antics but reassuring me that it would be worth it.

Came the end-of-January audition, I went in telling myself: no stress, no expectation, you owe it to yourself to do something new - a first opera audition in more than 10 years. 
Two weeks later, late one night a message came from producer and founder of Kuala Lumpur City Opera (KLCO), Danny Chen, saying they would like to offer me the role of the witch. Before I had any time to express my (annoying bad habit) self-doubts and concerns, I was welcomed on board and informed of the collection of the full score for the opera. 
Anyway I have decided to bite the bullet and face the challenge head on, this is a very special gift to my 41-year-old self a chance to do...a few things I've never done before: playing a principle role in an opera, playing a witch, and being part of an ensemble and company - KLCO - that I have admired and am mighty proud of. I am grateful for the confidence and faith the company have on me - Thank you Cecilia YapDanny Chen and Soon Yoon Ho
Thank you for reading this granny tale of this chapter of my life. I can't wait for my next rehearsal...the work is tough, the people I work with are wonderful, I will work hard. 
Shows on July 5, 7 & 8 at KLPAC Pentas 1. Early bird discount (20%) is on now till June 4. Tickets on sale now on TicketPro website.


Sunday, July 01, 2018

the other kind of loneliness

A new experience tonight.  Just a short while ago.

This kind of loneliness - you're home early from work and you still have the evening free to rest, catch up on some reading, long shower, slow emails and a leisurely prepared dinner, the solitary kind as usual.   You're in a good mood - always enjoy the quiet evening in at home with lights set as dim and low as it allows for slowing down the day.

The late dinner is good, you're too lazy to do the washing and chopping up for a stir fry so you made a sandwich - sourdough, salted butter, basil & garlic cheddar, organic tomatoes, local cucumber, and a fried egg - it's oily and juicy and full of flavours.

It's so good, you chow down the last bite of the sandwich and get up to wash the plate...just then, when the tap water hits the plate with your hands covered in dish soap you think, "If someone's here with me now and he is hungry too, I would have offered to make him this sandwich too and I'd be curious to see if he thinks it is as delicious as I did."

"I would gladly feed someone right now."

Except there is nobody hungry here, next to you.  It's just you, and the toaster oven next to the sink, still warm from the toast 10 minutes ago.

You're a bit lonely tonight, you realise.

It isn't entirely unpleasant, just a bit lonesome.  You know you haven't anything to complain like the solitary life; walking around naked, making wonderful and silly meals for one, sleeping at whatever hour you fancy and playing music at whatever volume you like, and doing laundry for one.

Yet, sometimes, you just realise, that you would like to cook the second portion for another person - watch a man eat the meal you'd put together and take in the satisfaction from the corner of his mouth that work into a smile, "This is so good, thank you."

Conversations not needed, just the tenderness of chasing one's hunger away with some gift of love in the form of a meal made by you.

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