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Modern chamber opera "Opiume" brings beautiful music

Using the Opium War, the "first drug war" in history, as its backdrop, "Opiume", a chamber opera with a 21st Century twist will be performed this Friday (November 5) and Saturday (November 6) at the Kwai Tsing Theatre.

Produced by Singapore's critically acclaimed Checkpoint Theatre, "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.

Created by composer/librettist/music director Mark Chan and director/digital imagery designer Casey Lim, "Opiume" is free of Asian musical cliches, 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. 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.

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.

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and the Singapore Arts Festival, "Opiume" was premiered at the Singapore Arts Festival 2004. Being one of the highlights of the "New Vision Art Festival", it will be performed at 8pm 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.

Ends/Tuesday, November 2, 2004
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