February 22nd, 2012


Hong Kong's last Cantonese opera house saved

Hong Kong's last dedicated Cantonese opera theatre won a new lease of life Saturday after it was saved from closure by a feng shui master who struck a deal with the property owner.

The 1,000-seat Sunbeam Theatre has been synonymous with the operatic heritage of China's southern Cantonese-speaking minority for 40 years since it opened in 1972, and has earned landmark status on Hong Kong's art scene.

The opera house had been due to close down following its final show on Sunday after the theatre operator decided to discontinue the lease, a move seen by fans as another nail in the coffin for the 300-year-old Chinese art.

But in a dramatic turn of events, feng shui master Li Kui-ming, who also runs the Prime Splendor Theatrical Troupe, said he had signed a four-year lease with owner Francis Law at a rent of HK$1 million ($129,000) a month to keep the Sunbeam open.

"This is a breakthrough in the negotiation. We really want to keep this 40-year-old landmark theatre," the troupe's director Yuen Hoi told AFP.

"We will carry out some renovation works at the theatre and we're aiming to re-open Sunbeam in late April," Yuen said, adding that Li and Law met several times before signing the lease.

"The owner is a Cantonese opera fan. He has commercial considerations but he is hoping to keep the theatre too and therefore he wants to pick a tenant who is really serious about preserving and promoting Cantonese opera," said Yuen.

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