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Malay Opera

Malay Opera or Bangsawan as it was known to the locals were popular not only among Malays but also the Chinese since the early decades of the 1900s. In fact, the Peranakan Chinese proved to be the keenest of fans as well as major financiers of Bangsawan.

The Shaw brothers themselves also supported this art form through investment and promotion. Attending the Bangsawan cost the patron between ten cents and three dollars. Those who did not want to pay could enjoy the music from the outside for free.

Many Bangsawan stars went on to become legends in their heyday among the local community. One of the luminaries was Khairuddin and his 'Dean's Opera' troupe who even adapted plays from Shakespeare into Malay! Bangsawan declined in the 1950s, with many players being absorbed into the growing Malay film industry.


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