Filipino-H.K. opera ‘Mila’ premieres in New York on Dec. 7

‘Mila’ depicts the plight of domestic workers in Hong Kong. Photo: Asia Society

Asia Society New York is hosting the North American premiere of the chamber opera “Mila,” about the plight of Hong Kong’s domestic workers that TIME Magazine called “quirky, quintessentially Hong Kong, and bold.” The performance will be sung in English, Cantonese and Tagalog.

The hour-long opera features composer Eli Marshall, librettist Candace Chong, director Chu Hei Chan, conductor Neal Goren leads the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble, and a cast of performers from Hong Kong, Manila, and the United States. The four-member cast includes Manila-based soprano Stefanie Quintin in the title role, Hong Kong-born soprano Amanda Li as Ma’am, New York-based bass-baritone Joseph Beutel as Sir and Hong Kong-born soprano Joanna Shao as both The Boy and The Girl.

Named after the story’s protagonist, Mila explores the tensions and relationships within a Hong Kong family — an American husband, his Cantonese wife and their son — and their domestic helper Mila from the Philippines. Despite marital tension in the home and her employers’ growing distrust, Mila remains dedicated to her Hong Kong family, soon noticing and becoming troubled by their child’s precarious mental state — a situation that touches an old wound from her past.

Soprano Stefanie Quintin portrays the nanny Mila.

The chamber opera enjoyed a four-night run in early last year at Asia Society’s Hong Kong Center and will now travel to New York and San Francisco. In New York, the opera will perform on December 7, at the Angel Orensanz Center.

According to her website, soprano Stefanie Quintin  studied voice under the tutelage of Professor Emerita Fides Cuyugan-Asensio, Rica Nepomuceno, Ena Aldecoa, Arthur Espiritu and Christopher Arceo. She graduated with a degree in Vocal Pedagogy and Vocal Performance (cum laude) from the University of the Philippines College of Music.

She is an alumna of the Modern Academy in Hong Kong, with emphasis on the performance of Contemporary Music. She is also a member of the Ripieno Ensemble; a group of musicians dedicated to the promotion and performance of contemporary music in the Philippines and in Southeast Asia.

“Filipina soprano Stefanie Quintin’s repertoire ranges from Renaissance Music to premiere performances of Contemporary Music,” it says on

“As a soloist, she has performed in various international festivals such as the Asia-Europe New Music Festival (Vietnam), International Bamboo Organ Festival (Philippines), Yilan International Arts Festival (Taiwan), soundSCAPE Festival (Italy), International Rondalla Festival (Philippines), and many others. She has been featured in concerts/performances with the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra, Manila Symphony Orchestra, Singapore Symphony Orchestra, Hong Kong Bach Choir and Orchestra, and the Hong Kong New Music Ensemble.”

© The FilAm 2019

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