Off Stage

Opera singer Teng Xiang Ting craves fish soup after rehearsals

Teng Xiang Ting (above).
Teng Xiang Ting (above).PHOTO: NEW OPERA SINGAPORE

Teng Xiang Ting may be a qualified lawyer after graduating from the National University of Singapore, but she chose to pursue her operatic ambitions. She first performed professionally in the lead role of Adina in New Opera Singapore's 2012 production of Donizetti's L'elisir D'Amore and has since become a regular performer with the group. Now a postgraduate music student at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Britain, the soprano will play the Governess in the group's production of Benjamin Britten's The Turn Of The Screw, an adaptation of the classic Henry James gothic horror novella.

What is your favourite opera?

There are too many. La Boheme and La Rondine by Puccini, Werther by Massenet... the list goes on.

Any pre-performance rituals?

Lots of rest the night before and some quiet time alone to focus my mind before each performance.

Favourite place to eat before and/or after a rehearsal?

I often crave fish soup after rehearsals. Han Kee Fish Soup at Amoy Street Food Centre would be closed by then though, so sometimes I go to Newton Circus.


    WHERE: Victoria Theatre

    WHEN: July 31 , 7.30pm, and Aug 2, 3pm

    ADMISSION: $25 to 60 (excludes booking fee) from Sistic (call 6348-5555 or go to

Funniest onstage moment?

It was a scene in Die Fledermaus (New Opera Singapore, 2014), where Rosalinda had to "accidentally" pluck out a few strands of her husband Eisenstein's chest hair to "punish" him for his philandering. What was supposed to be a few strands ended up being a big handful that fell quite comically to the ground. It took great effort to keep the angry face on and not giggle.

What was the toughest criticism you've faced?

In my maiden performance, I was told I came across as quite reticent on stage. Considering my character was supposed to be feisty and flirtatious, it was a big challenge for me to shake the discomfort because I'm usually more reserved.

Thankfully, over the years, I've become more confident as a singing actress so, in retrospect, it was constructive criticism.

What is the greatest challenge an opera singer faces?

Learning how to take care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally. Our bodies are our instruments, so we have to ensure we are ready to make music with the best-cared-for "instrument" possible.

What can audience members look forward to in The Turn Of The Screw?

The enchanting music that captivates, charms, horrifies and disturbs, all in equal measure.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2015, with the headline 'Fish soup craving after rehearsals'. Print Edition | Subscribe