Singing, but a lot more

Singing, but a lot more

Opera involves a different method of vocalising, plus acting, as YP junior reporters learned in summer school

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Final rehearsal for the Opera Hong Kong summer school production of The Magic Flute
Final rehearsal for the Opera Hong Kong summer school production of The Magic Flute
Photos: K. Wah International
Opera is a difficult art. Not only do you need years of training to develop an operatic voice, but you also need acting skills and knowledge of the foreign languages operas are written in, most commonly Italian.

Opera Hong Kong offered a three-week intensive vocal and acting training course to students aged five to 21. In August, the students trained for Mozart's The Magic Flute, and our junior reporters were invited to watch the final rehearsal and interview the cast and crew ...

 

These kids don't play around

Walking into the theatre, I knew something good was coming up. Adorable little children dressed in fairy costumes lined up across the stage, singing a song. One often expects little kids to mess around with lyrics while singing, and keeping a steady volume and tune becomes completely out of the question. But these students were an exception; they carried their tunes so perfectly!

Joy Pamnani

 

With support you can do anything

You must have talent and motivation to be successful, but support from others is also important.

One of the youngest students was seven-year-old Candise Hui Kar-yu. Being so young, she was grateful for the support she received: "I did encounter difficulties in playing my first-ever opera. However, with the support of my dad, and with my schoolmates' help, nothing seems impossible."

Winnie Lee Wing-yee


A class picture taken on stage

 

Coach's corner

Opera isn't only about singing, but also acting. So how can children control their vocals while performing on stage in front of a live audience? "Try not to move too much while you're performing onstage. For example, if there's a scene where you have to bend down, try not to bend from the waist up as it might disrupt your singing," vocal coach Felix Suen Tsz-ho said.

Singing and acting at the same time can be a difficult task for new performers. "To deal with this heavy burden on your voice, it's better to train your vocals every day to maintain its best state for singing.

"What's more, you should avoid body gestures involving upper-body singing muscles," Suen added.

Veronica Lin

 

Different singing technique

The shape of the mouth is important in opera because you need to produce a much louder sound as you're performing in front of a live audience with no amplifier.

"You have to practise breathing and how you place the tongue and jaw in a different way to what you do for pop music," said Suen, who prefers teaching by imitation rather than trying to explain complicated theories.

Elise Choi Ho-yie

 

The first must: a passion for singing

When Opera Hong Kong recruits students, Suen said: "First of all, you have to show a passion for singing. What's more, if you're confident enough and have gained adequate performing experience, you can apply for a leading role and become one of the performers on stage.

"Everyone has his or her own musical instrument."

Although the performers at this summer school session were aged five to 21, the best time to start learning opera, he said, is at age eight.

Jason Hung Tsun-sing

Young Post organises regular activities for our junior reporters. If you wish to join, send your name, age, school and contact details to reporters.club@scmp.com with "jun rep application" in the subject field

 

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