A night at the opera

I came across a beautiful set of portraits that Chia Aik Beng made of the Teochew Opera troupe, Lao Sai Tao Yuan recently. I have returned to this series a number of times, compelled by the intimacy of his portraits, and this facet of Singapore I’ve had no contact with.

Then chance stepped in. After some hours wandering around the Ramadan bazaar in Geyland Serai the other night, Flemming and I found ourselves in front of a big red and white striped tent with a performance by the very same troupe in full swing.

We sat down a while to take it all in. This was my first time watching a Teochew opera. I didn’t understand the language, nuance behind the make up, gestures and various stage elements. But its story was universal enough for the gist of the tale to come through (or so I imagined). Elaborate costumes, cymbals and piercing song, resplendent.

Headdresses, and costumes backstage
Headdresses, and costumes backstage


Fuji X-T10, 23mm f1.4


  1. Erin Wilson says:

    Your backstage images are particularly interesting. Not only because of the colours and shapes, but because the elements you’ve captured…costumes and instruments…allow me a way in to something I can’t otherwise imagine. A beautiful introduction.

    1. Charlene says:

      Thank you Erin. I would have liked to have hung around in the backstage simply to watch. It would also have been good to have someone explain to me what exactly was going on. Next time.

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