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"Opiume" a chamber opera with a 21st Century twist

Taking the Opium War, the "first drug war" in history, as its backdrop, Singapore's critically acclaimed Checkpoint Theatre will bring us "Opiume", a chamber opera with a 21st Century twist this November.

Created by composer/librettist/music director Mark Chan and director/digital imagery designer Casey Lim, "Opiume" is no history lesson on morality. What really stands out here is the alluringly romantic music, featuring an instantly accessible score and libretto, plus digital art, videos and motion graphics that redefine theatre space.

Free of Asian musical cliche, and any political or historical rhetoric, this cross-media masterpiece reinvigorates a Western art form to give a voice to new generations throughout the region.

With the focus on East-West fusion, the music calls to the emotions with its re-inventions of melodic and harmonic forms drawn from different cultures. Performers are also diverse but with a strong Asian presence: the T'ang Quartet and pianist Belinda Foo from Singapore; Chinese instrumentalists Loo Sze-wang (sheng), Chu Siu-wai (dizi/xiao) and Law Hang-leung (guan/suona), and percussionist Margie Tong from Hong Kong; and opera singers Judith Dodsworth (soprano), Xie Kun (tenor) and Paul Hughes (baritone) from Australia.

Checkpoint Theatre was founded in Singapore in 2002. Its first project was "Up North Down South", a production presented by the Centre for the Arts of the National University of Singapore in 2002. In 2003, Checkpoint Theatre performed "Atomic Jaya" in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. It combined political satire with strong visuals and performance technique. It played to full houses in both cities and was a resounding critical success.

Mark Chan has been one of the foremost composers and performers in Singapore over the past 15 years. He has created scores for more than 30 theatre productions in Singapore and the region. Classically trained in both Western and Chinese music, he was Composer-in-Residence at TheatreWorks, Singapore for 10 years, and was the main music director and co-composer for the Japan Foundation production "Lear". He was also Composer and Music Director of "Little Toys", the first full-scale score for a Chinese silent movie, a co-commission of the Singapore Arts Festival and the Hong Kong Arts Festival in 2003. His full-length composition "Email and Eternity", commissioned by the Singapore Chinese Orchestra, premiered in August 2003.

Casey Lim is a co-founder and Joint Artistic Director of Checkpoint Theatre. Lim has directed numerous plays and pioneered various festivals. Exploring and experimenting with digital art on stage for almost a decade, his work has garnered critical praise from the region, especially for "Ashes and Occupation" commissioned by the Singapore Arts Festival in 2000 and 2002 respectively. One of his recent works "Instant is a Millennium" was shown at the Opening Gala of the Singapore Arts Festival 2003.

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Singapore Arts Festival, "Opiume" premiered at the Singapore Arts Festival 2004. Being one of the highlights of the "New Vision Art Festival", it will be performed at 8pm on November 5 and 6 at the Kwai Tsing Theatre Auditorium.

Tickets priced at $100, $160 and $240 are available at URBTIX outlets. Half-price tickets are available for full-time students, senior citizens, people with disabilities and Comprehensive Social Security Assistance recipients. Group booking and package booking discounts are up to 20% off.

Programme brochures are available at URBTIX outlets or at the website,

For programme enquiries, call 2370 1044. Telephone reservations can be made on 2734 9009 and credit card telephone bookings on 2111 5999. Internet bookings can be made at .

Ends/Thursday, October 14, 2004
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