Bearing a strong resemblance to two durians sitting on the waterfront (no matter how often officials call them "the twin jewels"), Singapore's new Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay has already caused an architectural stir worthy of the Sydney Opera House. Three decades after it was first conceived as a "national performing arts center for everyone"—an ambitious calling for such a multicultural community—the state-of-the-art facility opened in mid October with a splashy three-week festival presenting 1,300 artists in 70 productions from 22 countries. The festival was designed to give audiences a preview of the programming they can expect throughout the year. International artists and performing arts troupes will continue to be featured, but the shows in the 1,600-seat Concert Hall and 2,000-seat Theatre will also reflect Singapore's many holidays, such as Chinese New Year and Diwali, the Indian festival of lights, and the center's commitment to contemporary Asian culture and arts. Esplanade—Theatres on the Bay, 65/6348-5555; www.esplanade.com.sg. —Ken Smith
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