Ex-ST editor to sing opera

Mr Leslie Fong will be singing a duet with the opera group’s president Benjamin Lau (above).
Mr Leslie Fong will be singing a duet with the opera group’s president Benjamin Lau (above).PHOTO: COURTESY OF BENJAMIN LAU
Mr Leslie Fong (above) will be singing a duet with the opera group’s president Benjamin Lau.
Mr Leslie Fong (above) will be singing a duet with the opera group’s president Benjamin Lau.PHOTO: COURTESY OF BENJAMIN LAU

Mr Leslie Fong will be singing a duet during the show staged by an amateur Cantonese opera group

An amateur Chinese opera group, set up two years ago, will perform Cantonese opera excerpts at the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts' Lee Foundation Theatre on Sunday.

The 12 performers from the Yue Yun Xuan Cantonese Opera Group include former Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) editor and marketing chief Leslie Fong.

Mr Fong, 67, who retired in January and is on the boards of several SPH-associated companies, will sing a duet with the opera group's president Benjamin Lau.

He says the 18-minute song, titled Gao Shan Liu Shui Wan Gu Qing (Friendship Bound By Mountains And Rivers), is a traditional piece about two good friends sharing a love for music played on a Chinese stringed instrument.

"Cantonese opera is my passion. I started singing and enjoying the songs when I was a boy living in Chinatown," he adds. He has sung in many concerts, including duets with his wife Daisy, 67, who is not performing on Sunday.

Other new groups which have sprung up recently, especially at community clubs, include the three-year-old Xin Opera Associa- tion, which promotes Yue opera and whose members took part in one of the three nights of shows organised by the Chinese Opera Institute a week ago.

  • BOOK IT / YUE YUN XUAN

  • CANTONESE OPERA SHOW

    WHERE: 151 Bencoolen Street, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts Lee Foundation Theatre

    WHEN: Sunday, 2 pm

    ADMISSION: $25, $20 and $15

    INFO: Call 9662-1538 or go to facebook.com/yueyunxuanopera

Mr Lau, 59, an engineer, says his group comprise Cantonese opera lovers who sing together at the Chinese Opera Institute at Aliwal Arts Centre on Fridays.

"Most of our members, including Leslie, were students of former Nafa opera teacher Hu Xueyi, who started teaching us more than 15 years ago," says Mr Lau, who will also be singing opera excerpts with another member, Ms Chan Man Kuen, on Sunday.

The group is currently taught by vocal trainer Jiang Juexun and opera musician Liang Lijuan, who are both from China.

Mr Lau says: "We formed the group two years ago to hold at least one concert annually and promote Cantonese opera in Singapore."

Ms Chan, 55, a retired online shopowner, adds: "We promote opera by singing regularly at homes for the elderly, as well as teaching and performing with students."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 25, 2016, with the headline 'Ex-ST editor to sing opera'. Print Edition | Subscribe