Located in the semi-rustic tourist spot of Kampong Glam, the permanent exhibits at The Museum Gallery on the second level revolve around the development of Chinese operas from over a hundred years ago. You can also chill at Bian's Café, the Chinese Opera-themed café on the ground level.
First published on . Updated on 9 Sep 2011.
Growing up in mainland China, Mr Bian Hui Bin was exposed to Chinese opera from a young age. He has harboured a deep love for the artform ever since and when he came to Singapore 16 years ago, he smuggled in this passion along with him. ‘Singapore has six types of Chinese opera,’ Bian tells me in Mandarin, ‘and when I realised this, I thought it would be great to put them all together and introduce Chinese opera to foreigners and locals alike.’ This idea eventually culminated in the opening of the Singapore Chinese Opera Museum just over two years ago.
Tucked away on the second floor of a Kampong Glam shophouse, the museum showcases the styles, costumes and props employed by the various types of Chinese opera in Singapore. Exhibits here originate solely from local collections, and they show that while the artform may have originated on the mainland, it has continued to develop and branch out into new styles since being imported to Singapore.
Catering to the non-Chinese community as well, both English and Mandarin guides are available, while videos within the museum are also multilingual.
The first floor is home to Bian’s Café, a uniquely themed joint that serves up rice and noodle dishes but also hosts Chinese opera dinners. For a more thorough education, at $100 a pop you can enjoy a six-course dinner while watching a performance, and find out about the preparations for the show, make-up and costumes, and even the meanings behind each facial expression and gesture.
‘I plan to create a mobile museum by the end of the year , staging Chinese opera performances at shopping malls and holding free talks to educate the public,’ Bian tells me. With a warm, studied conviction, he continues: ‘I yearn to bring Chinese opera to the people.’ Seah Jun En