March 31, 2006
M! The Opera
Did any of you watch 13 going on 30? The nutty magazine revamp, done by Jennifer Garner's rival at the office that blended elements of the modern society, rave and colour, boom and bust, hype and explosion, mystery and revolutionary, ghastly and cluttered all at once.
Well, unfortunately that was the first impression I got of M! The Opera, currently running at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.
While the singing and dancing were fantabulous, with amazing talent from the Malaysians, and the orchestra doing a superb job, these were individual talents that unfortunately were not able to get in sync with the other. In a team, no one player can take the limelight and last night, the orchestra was definitely trying to steal some volume space from the singers.
It was a convoluted storyline. True, it wanted to recreate a world of mystery and darkness, tradition and myth, and combine this with modernity and trends. But it was just too much. Too many complicated details with a vague script. (If I hadn't read the synopsis in the programme, which by the way costs RM15, I would have spaced out in the entire performance.)
Conducting it in two languages is a commendable act, pardon the pun. It is great that both Malay and English are used, but add this to the above confusion and you get a hodge-podge of words that you continually find difficult to follow. (The subtitles helped some, with the exception of minor errors in the middle of the performance…)
The songs failed to blow me away. Was there a signature song? Perhaps just one – the love song M sings to Sepi. Besides this, the others seem to lose a structure: introduction, chorus climax and resolution ending. The songs weren't quite songs.
The combination of overpowering orchestra, complicated storyline, switching back and forth between languages, having to read subtitles simultaneously, a non-stop flow of confusing scenes, made me rather weary.
Musicals of all time Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, and less-known Blood Brothers all have something in common. A relatively simple dialogue, even in singing. The audience that does not understand abstract, high-level dialogue will not fully appreciate the full story.
But quality of the performers on stage: excellent, excellent, excellent.
Singers: Superb. Dancers: Superb. Costumes: Superb. Traditional instruments: Superb.
I hope to see more Malaysian musicals (done well)!
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