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YTL sponsors M! The Opera

   
The cast gave a special preview performance to guests and the media.

Malaysian theatre now has a production to call a truly Malaysian opera, with M! The Opera the first contemporary opera produced by some of Malaysia's finest creative talents and dedicated to the late Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood. "And if I am sure of anything else, it is this: our beloved Kak Endon is with you all the way and I know you would have her blessings. Let's us do her proud."

Kuala Lumpur, 20 February 2006

Malaysian theatre now has a production to call a truly Malaysian opera, with M! The Opera, the first contemporary opera produced by some of Malaysia's finest creative talents.

M! The Opera is a funky new opera invented by a dynamic creative team and performed by an exciting young cast. The music, which is composed by award-winning composer Saidah Rastam, is a unique fusion of Western and Asian sounds, combining “asli” and Western classical singing, Indian polyrhythms, Malay percussion patterns and electronica.

YTL Corporation continues its support for the arts by stepping up as a title sponsor, and together with Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia, Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage and Istana Budaya, dedicates M! The Opera to the late Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood.

Set in the dramatic world of Fashion, M! The Opera tells the story of M, a boy who starts life in the heart of Kuala Lumpur, in Kampung Baru, and is inspired by his elegant “tukang jahit” mother into working with fabrics to transform women. Following rigourous training in industrial Japan, M becomes a legendary fashion designer, with Sepi, his beautiful childhood friend and Muse by his side.

The emergence of a young, outrageous designer – Kerabat – not only jeopardises M’s position in the fashion world, but also threatens the love of his Muse.

M! The Opera explores the dramatic struggle between those who have found fame and love, and those who are about to achieve them, all set in the sumptuous yet ruthless world of couture.

Featuring a stellar cast of Khir Rahman as M, George Chan as Kerabat, Doreen Tang as Sepi and Maizurah Hamzah as Kak Ros, with Azean Irdawaty, Cindy Yeap, Timothy Ooi, Mia Palencia, Peter Ong and Paula Malai Ali, M! The Opera is set to bring a new level of theatre to the performing arts scene.

The “all-star” creative team working with Saidah also includes Malaysia’s best-known and most beloved English language playwright, Jit Murad and renowned director and dramaturge, Jo Kukathas.

The production which was launched by Nori Abdullah, Chairperson of Yayasan Budi Penyayang Malaysia at the JW Marriott Hotel Kuala Lumpur, was celebrated with a big bang.

“My late mother, Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, had time and time again expressed her wish to see M! The Opera, a truly Malaysian production at the Malaysian theatre scene. I recall her telling the family of her meeting with Chacko, Lorna, Saidah and Jit as we sat at dinner one evening. She was full of enthusiasm and it was obvious that she had shown her support in her usual wholehearted manner to the extraordinary endeavour.

“Knowing her full support for M! The Opera and as the new chairperson for Yayasan Budi Penyayang, I am please to work with Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, an unfailing supporter of the arts, who has come forward yet again, to make it a production my later mother would have wanted it to be,” said Nori during her speech.

An ardent supporter for the arts, Yeoh, during his speech, also said that YTL Corporation is privileged to be able to present what promises to be a milestone in Malaysian performing arts.

“Not only is M! The Opera the first contemporary opera composed and written by talented Malaysians, it is also the first major work to weave the rich textures of our varied cultures into its theatrical fabric to render it uniquely Malaysian.

“But above all, I feel extremely privileged to be presenting this because it is dedicated to our late and beloved first lady, Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood. She had agreed to be the Patron of M! The Opera, which was entirely appropriate, as she was not only a champion of the arts but also an icon of culture and fashion. All of us here have the responsibility to carry on the work she started in the arts arena, to achieve her vision of making a dynamic and thriving arts scene a reality in Malaysia.”

Later, Nori and Yeoh together with the Chief Secretary of The Ministry of Culture, Arts and Heritage, Datuk Siti Azizah Abod; Yayasan Budi Penyayang chief excutive officer, Puan Leela Mohd Ali; M! The Opera executive producer, Sunita Rajakumar and Khir were invited on stage to officiate the launch by drumming the "Gordang Sembilan", a set of traditional Malay drums.

Guests and the media were then given a taste of what M! The Opera had to offer when the cast gave a special preview performance by singing songs from the production including "Cun", "Aku" and "Myth Song", to name a few.

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Yeoh (in suit), Nori (in orange) and Leela (second from left) with the cast from ''M! The Opera''.

Dedicated to its late patron Allahyarham Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood, M! The Opera will be held from 23 March - 1 April at Istana Budaya.

FULL TEXT OF SPEECH BY TAN SRI FRANCIS YEOH

Firstly, let me say that YTL Corporation feels very privileged to be able to present what promises to be a milestone in Malaysian performing arts; for not only is M! The Opera the first contemporary opera composed and written by talented Malaysians, it is also the first major work to weave the rich textures of our varied cultures into its theatrical fabric to render it uniquely Malaysian.

But above all, I feel extremely privileged to be presenting this because it is dedicated to our late and beloved first lady, Datin Paduka Seri Endon Mahmood. She is greatly missed, not least by all those who love the arts for she exemplified the passion, drive and the creativity that burn within every true artist.

She had agreed to be the patron of M! The Opera, which was entirely appropriate, as she was not only a champion of the arts but also an icon of culture and fashion.

All of us here have the responsibility to carry on the work she started in the arts arena, to achieve her vision of making a dynamic and thriving arts scene a reality in Malaysia.

2006 promises to be The Year of the Malaysian musical. Currently, Puteri Gunung Ledang, The Musical, is playing to packed houses at Istana Budaya. M! The Opera will premier at the same venue in a month's time. Later in the year, there will be a P. Ramlee musical at Istana Budaya and The Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre will be staging a debut musical by two young Malaysians.

Different cultures in the world have had their own form of drama or story telling set to music. Western opera, Chinese opera, Bangsawan, Kabuki are some examples. The contemporary "Musical", as exemplified by the works of composers Stephen Sondheim and Andrew Lloyd Webber, has popular and universal appeal. Every year, not only do hundreds of thousands flock to Broadway and the West End to be enthralled by the magic of musicals, the musicals are also performed in many languages the world over. Whilst the Western opera may not have such wide appeal, there is nonetheless a sizeable audience mesmerised by the music and drama at famous opera houses such as La Scala and The Metropolitan.

It is therefore very exciting that Malaysia is about to unveil our very own contemporary opera, composed by the very talented and multi-award winning Saidah Rastam with libretto by yet another bright light of Malaysian theatre, playwright and actor, Jit Murad.

M! The Opera promises many things; musically, it is a unique blend of Western and Asian sounds and rhythms. Its drama draws inspiration from our modern and cosmopolitan capital Kuala Lumpur and the glamour and glitz of the world of fashion. The creative team, cast and orchestra members are among the best – not only in Malaysia but also in the region.

These are ingredients for an unforgettable theatre experience that is M! The Opera and I am confident that the theatre-loving public will agree.

I am also confident that this production will set the pace for other talented Malaysians to follow. Today, Malaysians are making it on the world stage in many areas and it is not inconceivable that M! The Opera too can achieve international acclaim.

I thank my fellow sponsors who have come in to support a wonderful and worthy Malaysian project and I hope that this encourages aspiring composers and artists to dream the impossible dream and to follow that star.

To the cast, crew and the production team, I wish them the very best in their preparations. It takes hard work, persistence, courage and self-belief to be achievers but I am confident that success is within your grasp.

And if I am sure of anything else, it is this: our beloved Kak Endon is with you all the way and I know you would have her blessings. Let's us do her proud.

Thank you and God bless.

Text of speech by
Tan Sri Francis Yeoh
at the launch of M! The Opera
at Mayang Sari Grand Ballroom, JW Marriott Hotel
on 20 February 2006




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