Libretto by Jack Lin
voices (3): WAITRESS, soprano/mezzo-soprano. DAUGHTER, soprano. FATHER, tenor
ensemble (5): flute (doubling finger bells), clarinet in A, violin (doubling temple block), violoncello, piano
Note: Piano-Vocal version available for rehearsal and performance, contact us for more information.
KOPI FOR ONE was created in collaboration with Jack Lin (librettist), Nora Samosir (dramaturg), as well as Akiko Otao and Reuben Lai (directors of L’arietta Productions). It was conceived as the third of a cycle of chamber operas, A Singapore Trilogy, which includes Window Shopping (2014) and Laksa Cantata (2012), also written in collaboration with Jack Lin.
The premiere of Kopi For One, presented as part of A Singapore Trilogy, was produced by L’arietta at the Living Room and the Blue Room of the Arts House, Singapore. Transforming the Blue Room into a kopitiam (coffeeshop) with the visual canvas of artist Alvin Mark Tan, and a set of kopitiam tables and chairs, the experience was enriched by the smell and taste of kopi (coffee), teh (tea) and Peranakan snacks.
Kopi For One was realized with the support of the Creation Grant awarded by the National Arts Council, Singapore.
In this final instalment of the trilogy, the opera opens to an ubiquitous kopitiam (Singaporean coffeeshop) where a waitress is seen cleaning and sweeping the floor. She complains about her life and work. It is evident that the waitress has been working for many years at the kopitiam, and has over time become jaded and weary of her customers and her daily chores.
Soon a younger woman enters the premises and is instantly recognized by the waitress. The two catch up over some small talk, and she eventually orders herself a coffee. Later, an elderly man enters, and is greeted by the waitress as an old friend and customer. The old man has come to the kopitiam to try to reconcile with her daughter, the younger woman. The waitress understands this predicament and leaves to give the family some space.
The father and daughter have an indirect conversation, and a commotion ensues, which leaves her in tears and him leaving the kopitiam. As he leaves, he tries to convey his final affection to her but fails visibly to move her. The waitress re-enters with their drinks. She notices that the daughter is in an emotional state, and tries to console her while noting that the father has gone. After composing herself, the daughter is perplexed by the question and responds that she has been the only customer in the kopitiam the entire time. The opera ends with a moment of clarity as we find out the daughter had just attended her father’s funeral service before coming to the kopitiam.
Premiere Cast & Ensemble
Date: October 2018
Venue: The Blue Room, The Arts House
WAITRESS – Mezzo-soprano (or Soprano)
DAUGHTER – Soprano, daughter of
FATHER – Baritone (or Tenor)
Flute (doubling small finger bells)
Clarinet in A
Violin (doubling a low temple block)
Yee Ee-ping, soprano (Waitress)
Akiko Otao, soprano (Daughter)
Jonathan Charles Tay, tenor (Father)
Rit Xu, flute
Chang Hong, clarinet
Gabriel Lee, violin
Tang I Shyan, violoncello
Pauline Lee, piano (and répétiteur)