Chinatown Business Association (CBA) is proud to present ‘Chinatown Opera Festival 2019’, the first-ever opera festival showcasing Singapore’s rich local heritage and culture. Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, the festival will run from Wednesday, 20 November to Sunday, 24 November 2019 at the bustling Chinatown district, a go-to destination for both locals and tourists.
With this dynamic opera festival, travel back in time and re-live the nostalgic days of performance art in the 1950s and 60s. CBA recreates the experience of Chinese opera through exquisite star-studded performances and family-friendly activities. From Hainanese and Hokkien opera to the more popular Cantonese opera, expect an array of vibrant performances by local and international troupes such as Chinese Theatre Circle (敦 煌 剧 坊) as well as Guangzhou Hongdou Cantonese Opera Troupe (广州红豆粵剧).
Our Parenting World – OPW Media team is pleased to be able to interview Lim Yick Suan, Executive Director, Chinatown Business Association to find out more about the coming ‘Chinatown Opera Festival 2019’ and upcoming activities in Chinatown.
Exclusive Interview with Lim Yick Suan, Executive Director, Chinatown Business Association
1. Please share with us more about your background and what’s your vision for Chinatown?
I have fond memories of my childhood in Chinatown. My paternal grandparents owned a jewellery shop along South Bridge Road on the one end. My maternal grandparents owned a textile shop on the other end. I accompanied my late grandmother to her factory at Club Street and did the chores that befitted my then short height and small frame. During my school holidays, I was tasked to wipe and shine the mirrors in her shop, so that her customers could try on the jewellery and looked good with the jewellery that sparkled. When her shop closed for the day, I helped her carry her trays of goods back to her safe, and slotted them in according to category. It was not child’s play for me, as the trays were heavy. It was her own way of instilling her work ethnic to me.
2. Why did Chinatown Business Association decide to bring back Chinatown Opera?
With the Chinatown opera festival, we aim to let festival goers travel back in time and re-live the nostalgic days of performance art in the 1950s and 60s and reinforced the precinct heritage as a culturally deep and heritage rich precinct. CBA is recreating the experience of Chinese opera that our grandparents enjoyed through multi dialect performances, curated atmosphere, family friendly activities and sentimental food items.
3. How does Chinatown Business Association intend to re-invent Chinatown to engage younger audiences with Chinatown Opera Festival?
Chinatown Business Association juxtapose the old and the new by showcasing culture and heritage on one side by showcasing local and international troupes performing well known works, traditional workshops like “Chinese Opera Weapons Showcase, face changing performances and the prevailing and current favourites like photo booth, colouring and games stalls on the other.
4. What are the highlights of Chinatown Opera Festival 2019?
We will be featuring Hainanese, Hokkien and Teochew opera to the more popular Cantonese opera, expect an array of vibrant performances by local and international troupes such as Chinese Theatre Circle (敦 煌 剧 坊) as well as Guangzhou Hongdou Cantonese Opera Troupe (广州红豆粵剧).
Other highlights of the festival are the ‘Chinese Opera Weapons Showcase’, as well as teachings on the “water sleeve” and face changing performances predominant in Chinese Opera. Additionally, a segment of ‘Pop Music and Chinese Opera’ featuring pop songs influenced by Chinese Opera would be introduced for younger audiences.
5. Any future projects in the pipeline for Chinatown?
We will be further curating with further programming with interesting and meaningful events that is pertinent to Chinatown’s rich heritage and culture. In March, we will have our marque Five Foot Festival which will be hark back to the days of old where five foot ways hosted the barber, the letter writer, the ma ma store that sold every necessities, the newspaper vendor, the fortune teller etc conducted their business happily. In the coming 2020 event, we will cast the five foot way festival with a modern element.
6. Lastly, do you have anything else that you would like to share with our readers about the coming Chinatown Opera Festival and what can audience expect when they visit the festival?
Visitor can expect rich and interesting programming. There will be traditional performances by local ( of different dialects ) and international troupes featuring well known works. Visitors can enjoy other aspects of Chinese Opera like teaching of “water sleeve” and face changing performances , with modern interpretation of Chinese Opera with a segment of “ Pop Music and Chinese Opera” featuring pop songs featuring Chinese Opera influence.
There will be coloring stations, a photo booth, games stall and opera props display for visitors to enjoy. Additionally, there are food and beverage stalls, mask painting and opera related merchandise for purchase.
Thank you Lim Yick Suan for taking our interview!
In addition, there will be a ‘Chinatown Opera Fest Contest’ that will be held throughout the festival days, one stands a chance to walk away with a brand new Apple iPhone 11. Simply unleash your creativity by dressing up in the best opera costume to win. To find out more, please visit https://www.facebook.com/events/501327333931629/
Tickets are currently on sale at Chinatown Visitor Centre, Chinatown Heritage Centre and online at SGD $20 for Premium Seating and $10 for General Admission of night shows.