Saturday, 26 February 2011


“I don't mind what language an opera is sung in so long as it is a language I don't understand.” - Edward Appleton

Singapore has a lively cultural scene with many events staged by both local and international artists. There is the renowned Singapore Symphony Orchestra, the Singapore Lyric Opera company, the Singapore Dance Theatre, theatre, numerous galleries, museums, artistic and cultural groups that reflect the multicultural community of this small but extremely successful Asian nation. One is constantly reminded of this mixed population by the signage, which is in the four official languages of English, Malay, Chinese (Mandarin), and Tamil. Singaporean culture is best described as a melting pot of mainly Chinese, British, Malay and Indian cultures - a reflection of its immigrant history.

Although the Western influence is still strong (remembering the British were here from 1819 till 1965), the Asian flavour of the culture is ineluctable and constantly reminds one that Singapore is a strongly Asian nation. Of its permanent residents (3.75 million), close to three quarters are Chinese, 13% are Malay and 10% Indian. However, it should be kept in in mind that Singapore has the sixth-highest percentage of foreigners globally, with about forty percent foreign nationals working and living here, bringing the population up to just over 5 million). This mix of people and cultures and cultures makes the country an interesting and vibrant place to be in, especially when looking at the cultural scene. The successful economy and subsidisation by the state of many artistic and cultural bodies ensures that art and culture receive strong government support.

As it is Song Saturday, I have chosen two clips of Chinese Opera, which is part of the Chinese cultural heritage that is alive and well in Singapore. Rather than being an entertainment that granny enjoys, Chinese Opera is also popular amongst the younger Chinese speaking people and represents a centuries-old tradition that still thrives wherever there are large Chinese populations. In Singapore there many live Chinese Opera performances staged, including many “street performances”, which literally bring art into peoples’ lives.

1 comment:

  1. I must say that Chinese opera takes a bit of getting used to for western ears, but I suppose the same could be said of western opera sounds to eastern ears unused to western music.
    The costumes and scenery seem to be quite amazing and the plots I believe are just as convoluted as the plots of western opera!
    Enjoy your travels!