Amateur Cantonese opera group Yue Yun Xuan perform for the love of opera

Amateur Cantonese opera group Yue Yun Xuan will be returning to the stage on Saturday for the third edition of its annual concert.

The group, which was founded in 2015, will be performing six songs, four of which will be episodes in traditional costume, at the concert, which is sponsored by BreadTalk.

Group president Benjamin Lau, 60, says: "I believe opera is one of our arts that should be passed down to the next generation."

The 11 performers have full-time jobs and make time to rehearse together for at least two hours once a week, after work or on weekends.


Members of Yue Yun Xuan at their annual performance last year. PHOTO: YUE YUN XUAN

Mr Lau, an engineer, tries to get in extra practice by playing opera in his car as he drives to and from work and singing along.

On Saturday, he will be performing in a 2006 version of the duet Farewell My Concubine, in which the King of Western Chu finds himself surrounded by enemy forces and his beloved concubine kills herself with his sword.

  • BOOK IT / YUE YUN XUAN CANTONESE OPERA SHOW

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

    WHEN: Saturday, 2pm

    ADMISSION: $25, $20 and $15

    INFO: Call 9455-3323, 9391-1423 or go to www.facebook.com/yueyunxuanopera

Former Straits Times editor and Singapore Press Holdings marketing chief Leslie Fong, 68, is a member of the group and will be performing the aria, Romance Of The Zither, with his wife Daisy. It is drawn from a Chinese legend in which a dragon princess falls in love with a scholar when she hears the music he is playing.

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

Besides its annual concerts, Yue Yun Xuan also participates in other opera events. It performed at the second Singapore International Chinese Opera Festival in September last year. Last month, it took part in a joint performance by the Chinese Opera Institute and China Cultural Centre, which was co-organised by South Seas Society (Singapore).

The group also spreads awareness of opera in the community by singing at homes for the elderly and hospices, as well as teaching and performing with students.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 04, 2017, with the headline 'Performing for the love of opera'. Print Edition | Subscribe