Since the soft opening of R&F Mall at Princess Cove on March 28 this year, I have been eagerly anticipating the announcement for the opening of their Opera House.
“Where is this Princess Cove?” you may be curious to know.
Well, Princess Cove is the English translation for Tanjung Puteri, another name for Iskandar Puteri, the original name of the state capital founded by Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim in 1855.
It is sited at the southern tip of Peninsular Malaysia with Singapore across the Straits of Johor.
At that time, the Johor rulers administered the state from Telok Blangah in Singapore and when the state administration centre moved to Tanjung Puteri, this area was renamed Johore Bahru in 1862.
This significant link to the Johor royal family was duly recognized by the R&F Group, one of the top 10 Real Estate Development Enterprises in China for nine consecutive years, who is the developer of R&F Princess Cove in Johor Baru.
While the city was being developed with large residential and commercial properties, the R&F Group is committed to building something that the locals can enjoy – not just the shopping mall but also a performing arts center.
The developer recognized the need for a such a performing arts place and when they decided to build an Opera House, they also decided to name it after Johor’s Permaisuri (Queen) who is a keen supporter of the arts and music!
Fellow Johoreans who are fans of live shows and have longed for a suitable venue for the performing arts, joined me in anticipating the completion of this Opera House.
As the building started to take shape adjacent to the R&F Mall, overlooking the Straits of Johor, I was getting quite impatient to see when it would be ready.
From the architectural model, I saw that the building structure is reminiscent of the Sydney Opera House – probably for better acoustics – and its site was also at the water’s edge.
A JB friend who was returning from a trip to Singapore, told me she saw the building – looking quite impressive against the night sky – when she was driving through the Causeway, and my hope to see it completed soon, zoomed even higher.
Then last September I received an invitation to a sneak peek of the Opera House.
Needless to say I jumped at the opportunity to be among the first to get a conducted tour, to touch and feel that this was really happening!
Tapping on their vast resources, the R&F Group employed the expertise from the designer who completed the National Grand Theatre in China to set up the sound system and the stage and lighting designs in the Permaisuri Zarith Sofiah Opera House.
On the appointed day, it was twilight when I joined Media guests at the start of the tour of the property.
After a quick group photography session, we were ushered into the lobby.
Our attention was directed to observe the interior walls and columns that were decorated with odd shaped “bubbles” that changed into different shades of colour intermittently, and informed that this design was inspired by the waterfront, in fact the Straits of Johor.
The building covers an area of some 65,832 sq ft and is designed with 534 comfortable seats and a stage that measures 23m wide by 12m deep.
The seating arrangement include exclusive Royal Box and special seats on the Mezzanine level, as well as a VIP Lounge and admin offices.
At the back of the auditorium, there are Light & Sound Control Rooms and back-stage, there are Dressing Rooms and the all-important toilets for the performers!
This sneak peek gave me a clearer picture of what I had already imagined from my experiences in other theatres – both modern and ancient – from the UK to Macau, and I thought this Opera House should do for a start.
More importantly, I trust the R&F Group will manage and maintain the Opera House well and work closely with a local team to provide a balanced content in terms of age and racial demographics – and make full use of the theatre – with a calendar of exciting events to entertain both locals and visitors with quality live shows at affordable prices.
Finally, JB has her own Opera House to promote local talent in the performing arts and I cannot wait for Johor to welcome national and international entertainment shows and artists whose participation will certainly enrich the live-shows culture here.
Now we patiently await its official opening and the first of many live performance shows at JB's first and only Opera House.
Source from : Peggy Loh
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