Malaysian billionare Francis Yeoh gives Rome opera $1.5 million

Malaysian tycoon and performing arts lover Francis Yeoh.
Malaysian tycoon and performing arts lover Francis Yeoh.BLOOMBERG

ROME (AFP) - Malaysian tycoon and performing arts lover Tan Sri Francis Yeoh has given Rome's struggling opera house €1 million (S$1.5 million), the opera said Thursday.

Yeoh, chief of the huge YTL conglomerate, was quoted by the Teatro dell'Opera di Roma as saying he hoped the gift would help the institution "distinguish itself on an international level as one of the most prestigious and excellent artistic centres in the world".

A long-time admirer of Italy's prized opera singers Pavarotti and Andrea Bocelli, Yeoh has financed numerous classical music concerts at home and abroad.

The Roman theatre hit the headlines last year after a series of orchestra and chorus strikes, summing up the struggle across the arts sector in a country hit hard by funding cuts during the deepest recession since the World War II.