Panic Love (2020)
a cappella opera for five voices
Libretto: Felix Cheong
MARIAM - soprano
MOTHER - soprano (or mezzo-soprano)
3 GREEK CHORUS MEMBERS - tenor 1, tenor 2, and bass
PANIC LOVE was conceived and created during the COVID-19 pandemic; it reflects and refracts on the tumultuous year of the pandemic. Featuring a Greek chorus of three and two lead singers. The current version (first act) was produced as a short opera film with the, the second act will be created and staged when live performance resume.
The story revolves around Mariam, a young air stewardess who lost her job due to flights being grounded all over the world. Working as a safe distancing enforcement officer during the circuit breaker period, she follows the rules to the letter, fining people who do not keep one metre apart or who loiter outside unnecessarily. Her fastidiousness in enforcing social distancing rules takes an ironic turn when she herself is caught in a tangle of the same rules.
She finds out, too late, she can’t see her dying mother one last time because under the circuit breaker rules, no visitors are allowed in nursing homes, the irony of the very rules she enforces being enforced on her. Unable to see her estranged mother, who passes away in a nursing home, Mariam questions the impersonality of rules and her own role in perpetuating it. At a larger level, the opera examines our complicity in accepting rules without question, and how much leeway for compassion and human understanding do rules allow us, even when it is a matter of life and death.
Premiere Cast (2021 Film)
MARIAM - Wong Yongen, soprano
MOTHER - Ng Jingyun, soprano
3 GREEK CHORUS MEMBERS -
Daniel Chong, tenor
Samuel Ng, tenor
Chong Wailun, bass