Six Little-Known Facts About Operas

Do you know… the record for the world’s longest applause? That opera composers used to hire professional applauders at their live performances? And that some male opera singers had their testicles removed for the sake of preserving their soprano voices? These are issues pertinent to the development of operas in the past and present days. But of course no one likes to read boring articles about the 400-year-old history of opera in Hong Kong and the rest of the world. So here are six little-known fun facts about operas that you would surely be interested in.


Fact 1: Plácido Domingo set the world record for the longest applause in an opera

This fact is getting a little bit tricky here. The title of the world’s longest applause used to belong to Plácido Domingo, a Spanish opera singer. On July 30, 1991 when Giuseppe Verdi’s Otello was on show in Vienna, Plácido Domingo played the title role and yielded a standing ovation that lasted for an incredible duration of 1 hour and 10 minutes. That set the longest applause in world history, but the record was beaten 13 years later by Dustin Luke Nelson, outlasting Plácido Domingo’s performance by 50 more minutes at his performance at the Walker Art Center's Open Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota.


Fact 2: Claques were hired to applaud at opera performances

The success of an opera cannot be judged merely by the loudness of applause received at its performance. Nonetheless, many in the classical period deemed cheers and boos important indicators of success. This gave rise to the employment of claques, which were professional groups that would feign tears at teary moments, laugh at hilarious times and chant for encores at the end of the show. These professional clappers were most commonly seen in France in the 19th century, the influence of which quickly spread to theatres in neighbouring areas.  Hopefully claques are not employed in any opera in Hong Kong nowadays.


Fact 3: Young male opera singers had their testicles removed to preserve their voices

We all know that boys’ voices crack and get lower upon puberty. The universal rule of human’s endocrine system does not only perturb the youngsters personally, but also causes trouble to the team for the lack of male sopranos. During the Baroque period, therefore, male singers would have their testicles removed before they even reached the age of puberty. These professional performers, who sacrificed their masculinity to retain their high-pitch voices, were known as castrati. The last castrato, Alessandro Moreschi, died in 1992 such that castrati cannot be found in any opera in Hong Kong or other parts of the world in modern times.


Fact 4: The Sydney Opera House was one of the world's most over budget projects

An article about opera cannot be complete without mention of the iconic Sydney Opera House. According to Joseph Cahill, Premier of New South Wales in 1954, construction of the Sydney Opera House began as a project to “help mould a better and more enlightened community”. Before Australia’s award-winning opera house became a famous tourist attraction today, its construction racked up a cost of $102 million (in Australian dollars), almost 15 times the estimated figure of $7 million. Worse still, building work of Sydney Opera House was expected to be completed in 4 years, but it took up to 14 years in the end.


Fact 5: Opera singers’ voices are loud because they sing at distinct frequencies

You’re not alone if you are wondering why opera singers’ voices, without amplifiers of any kind, can be clearly heard over the sound of an orchestra. To project their voices over the theatre, opera singers specifically adjust the resonance frequency of their vocal tracts to a level close to the fundamental frequency of the pitch. In simpler terms, while most of us sing at our most natural frequency, professional opera singers sing at a different frequency to make their voices significantly louder.


Fact 6: There are very few performances of Western opera in Hong Kong

So that’s quite a lot of technical knowledge and facts about operas in the past. Setting the calendar date in 2019, it is not hard to notice that opera in Hong Kong and other regions does not thrive as much as it used to be. If you type in the keywords ‘opera’ or ‘opera in Hong Kong’ on Google, the most probable result that you come across would be Opera Hong Kong’s website. If not, the bet is on the newly opened Xiqu Centre featuring Cantonese operas in the West Kowloon Cultural District. Following from this observation, one can confidently conclude that one can hardly find, let alone see a Western opera in Hong Kong. Opera Hong Kong is no doubt the leading organizer of opera performances in Hong Kong, but make sure you don’t miss out More Than Musicals amazing live shows which present operas in a modern, compact and accessible manner. Hint for you: their actors and actresses use laptops and smartphones in their performances! Sounds fun, right? Check out their latest programmes and subscribe to stay tuned here!

Six Misconceptions About Operas Dispelled

“Hey! Are you up for hanging out this weekend? There’s an opera in Hong Kong that I really wanna see…” 

“Opera… seriously? Operas are boring and expensive. They’re for the rich old guys. What about a movie instead?” 

Does this conversation sound familiar to you? If not, have you ever thought of opera as a boring and expensive past-time for the wealthy elderly? Say yes, and read on until this article completely debunks the top six myths about opera.

1. Operas are boring

This is probably the most commonly held misconception about operas. The truth is, most if not all operas are packed with convoluted yet riveting storylines that can absolutely grasp your attention throughout the performance. Sometimes they can even be more intense than movies! Not sure what this means? Opera Hong Kong’s latest performance of Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci is a case in point to illustrate this.

The imaginary story of Cavalleria Rusticana is set on an Easter morning when Turridu’s lover, Santuzza suspected that Turridu was cheating on her and sleeping with his mistress Lola. Outraged and driven by mounting jealousy, Santuzza informed Lola’s husband, Alfio, of Lola’s misbehaviour. Alfio was infuriated. He challenged Turridu to a duel, and a bloody Easter Monday entailed.

Pagliacci, on the other hand, was inspired by a real-life murder story. In the opera, Canio was the head and clown of a troupe of travelling street performers. His flirtatious wife Nedda was concurrently pursued by two other men: Silvo whom she loved, and troupe actor Tonio whom she spurned. When Tonio told Canio about his unfaithful wife’s affair, the cuckolded clown set ready with a knife against his wife during the performance… Is this part of the troupe’s performance or a real act of revenge. 

2. Operas are for the old people

A big no. Many perceive operas as dramas based on old stories performed by actors and actresses in old costumes doing what people did some 400 years ago. What they don’t know is that some contemporary operas come with exciting, modern twists. For instance, characters in La Traviata would write letters to each other with pens and papers if it was performed a decade ago. In More Than Musical’s adaptation of this classic opera, however, performers would dig out their smartphones, swiftly press a few buttons on the screen and send text messages instead. The twist to the original masterpiece has not only made this a modernized production, but also a unique opera in Hong Kong.

3. Opera in Hong Kong are for the rich

They were, but they aren’t. Indeed operas used to be entertainment for guests of the courts, foreign diplomats and royal families, but this is no longer the case now. Operas may be expensive if you see them in European countries with high costs of living, but an opera in Hong Kong is definitely affordable for the average audience. At only $100HKD, you can buy your way to Opera Hong Kong’s performance (a balcony seat, set at a far distance from the stage). Alternatively, you can choose the immersive, stageless opera experience that allows close-up contact and even chit-chats over liquor with opera performers with More Than Musical at just $250HKD! In any event, it is for sure that opera ticket prices aren’t as expensive as you thought.

4. Opera in Hong Kong are serious events

Yes and no. Of course operas are performances to which the audience has to pay respect, but it is not necessary to go to great lengths to dress up before you see an opera in Hong Kong. Flip-flops and ragged jeans would be too casual to be respectful, but you will be fine with a nice and comfortable outfit for an opera in Hong Kong. For ladies, this may even be the perfect night to find yourself an excuse to add a new collection to your wardrobe and get into your pretty outfit!

5. Opera performances are long and dull

Not true. Whilst some opera performances can last up to five hours long, it usually takes you much less time to see an opera in Hong Kong. In fact, the average opera in Hong Kong spans only three hours with a 15-minute intermission, and More Than Musical’s productions are even shorter at 90 minutes to cater to the audiences’ tight schedules and fast pace of life.

6. Operas are incomprehensible

Not really. As you may already know, stories are sung and acted out in an opera. Usually the performers sing in English, but sometimes they may sing in a foreign language like Italian. Either way, the opera’s synopsis in the programme booklet should be able to guide you through all important events in the storyline. And don’t worry if you don’t speak any foreign language — an opera in Hong Kong should have supertitles (in English) projected above the stage if it is performed in another language!

The best cultural events in town right now

If you happen to turn on the telly over the next few days, the newscasters will probably tell you it is that time of the year – 立夏 (lap6 haa6 in Cantonese or Lìxià in Mandarin). A season term from traditional East Asian calendars, it literally translates as “the beginning of summer”, meaning the sun will be in its full force for quite a while in Hong Kong. Fancy a break from the sultriness of May? While we know it is tempting to simply lie down, watch the Game of Thrones and let Jon convince us that winter is coming instead of lap6 haa6, make sure you do not miss all the exciting cultural events that are happening around you! Opera, art exhibitions, live performances…there’s something for everyone.

Opera: Don Giovanni

Easily our star programme of the month. Don’t worry if you do not recognize the name, you would have certainly heard about its composer – none other than W.A. Mozart himself. Fun fact: Mozart probably completed writing the overture on the very day Don Giovanni premiered in Prague (Well, some did argue that it was the night before). Because of Mozart’s brilliant artistry, his last-minute revision did not stop the opera from being rapturously received by the Prazan audience, and Don Giovanni remains as one of the most popular programmes up until today. We are excited to tell you that, it will be performed in our local opera house this very month! The Opera Hong Kong Chorus and Hong Kong Sinfonietta will collaborate to regale you with the extraordinary tale of Don Giovanni, the eponymous protagonist who devotes his life to beguiling women and eventually gets into trouble. Do treat yourself this summer and let the singers amaze you while Mozart’s tunes serenade you.

Exhibition: An Opera for Animals

This exhibition at Para Site art centre features the works of around 50 artists from across the globe, including Kenojuak Ashevak, the pioneer of modern Inuit art, and Lee Bul, whose art is soon to be showcased in the Southbank Centre of London. This time, these outstanding artists are exploring the intricate relations between the development of opera and the history of imperialism. Some focus on Western opera culture and society in the 19th century and highlight how the golden age of opera is concurrent with the most successful period of European colonialism. Whereas some works adopt the perspective of the colonized and investigate the colonial traces in opera, and how modern societies are constructed by its historical and art legacy as well. An exhibition that gives us much food for thought!

Then how exactly are the animals brought into play? In fact, animals are often utilized as important motifs in operas, as well as in other art forms. For example, if you dig into the history behind the renowned Schloss Neuschwanstein, you will find out that it is not only the model for Cinderella’s and Sleeping Beauty’s castles, but also an art form to express the King’s love for Wagner’s operas. Schloss Neuschawanstein literally means the “New Swan Castle” and is a reference to the scene in Lohengrin, where the damsel in distress prays for protection and the unknown swan knight comes to her rescue with a boat pulled by a swan, making the animal a symbol of divinity and majesty. In Wagner’s later operatic work, The Ring of the Nibelung tetralogy, references are also made to various animals such as the wolves, dragons and serpents to create a mythical ambience. In light of this common practice, many artworks in this exhibition have made use of animal symbolism as the form of expression.

There’s more! The exhibition is an overture to the collaboration between Para Site and the Rockbund Art Museum of Shanghai, as the two institutions will be holding two corresponding exhibitions in the near future.

Date: Now until June 9, 2019

Time: 12:00 – 19:00 (Except on public holidays)

Venue: Para Site, 677 King’s Road, 22/F, Wing Wah Industrial Building, Hong Kong

Hidden bars with live performances

We all know that Lan Kwai Fong is the most popular spot to go out for a drink, but how does an out-of-the-ordinary bar-hunting experience sound to you? Among the list, we have handpicked 2 of them just for you. Enjoy your evening in these cozy hidden bars, but make sure you are going on the right day to catch live music and bands!


1.      Stockton

This bar is tucked quietly away at Wyndham Street, which happens to be one of the earliest colonial streets in Hong Kong. If you are looking for a getaway from the bustling city life, this is the place for you. Stockton will take you back in time with its vintage vibe and you can spend some quality time with your intimate friends at the bar’s private corners. The bar gets quite lively during its theme nights – past events include the Beatles vs Rolling Stones face-off, and a tribute to Prince. If you are visiting Stockton at one of those nights, bring your dancing shoes and your best karaoke voice!


2.      Le Boudoir

Who does not want to book the next flight to Paris after watching the Golden Globe-winning Moulin Rogue? The more economical solution though, is to step into Le Boudoir and this Paris-inspired bar will get you covered. Coincidentally, it is also situated at Wyndham Street, at a basement with soothing music to treat your earbuds. Until the end of May, Le Boudoir will be holding “Acoustic Nights” and every Thursday you can sit back to enjoy the acoustic covers of jazz, rock and pop music by the local duo SoulBros.

That is it for our recommendation of cultural events in May. In the meanwhile, we are happy to present to you our new programme, “Opera Meets Musical Theatre”. Our show in June includes selected music from the opera Carmen, Broadway musicals West Side Story, The Phantom of the Opera and more. Swing by our website regularly for more updates! Always stay tune and come back to www, from time to time.

Six Reasons To See Your First Opera

Operas are a 400-year-old art form, but many of you have probably never visited an opera house, let alone watched a live performance. If that is the case, here are six reasons why you should give operas a try:

1. Opera is for everyone

Ever since operas were staged in the theatres a few hundred years ago, composers from all over the world have spawned productions featuring a wide variety of storylines. There are stories about a paranoid king who instructed his 50 daughters to marry and kill their husbands in order to safeguard his kingdom against invasion (Hipermestra by Francesco Cavalli), a demigod dolefully looking for his dead fiancée’s soul in the inferno (L' Orfeo by Claudio Monteverdi), and a prince that fell in love with a charming lady who was under a peace treaty to marry the prince’s father (Don Carlos by Giuseppe Verdi). No matter you are craving for some blood-stained fighting scenes, prepared for a glimpse of the underworld or hoping to immerse yourself in tear-jerking tragic romance, rest assured that you will find your thing among tens of thousands of opera programmes available today. 

Tip for opera beginners: if you’re not sure where to look for opera programmes, don’t forget to subscribe to More Than Musical’s e-news.

2. Operas seamlessly integrate music and drama

Who doesn’t like concerts and movies? Hong Kong people could go so far as to take a few days off work in order to fly across the globe to watch live performances of their favourite bands, and many couples pay weekly visits to the cinemas. With operas being a combination of singing, orchestral music, dancing and drama, opera houses are where Hong Kong people’s favourite pastimes meet. 

3. Operas are an enjoyment for the eyes

Humans have an inherent liking for fancy things – pretty ladies, good-looking men, glimmering outfits, extravagant architecture and many more. Pay your way to an opera house and you can have it all – stunning casts, costumes that seem to come from a medieval nobility’s wardrobe, backdrops and props that make the audience feel like they have travelled a few hundred years backwards − call it an enjoyment for the eyes and soul of humankind.

4. Learning culture and history through operas

Sensational historical events, prevailing cultures and social norms have inspired composers to write some greatest operas of all time, making operas excellent materials for us to learn about history and cultures of the past. Giulio Cesare by George Frideric Handel, for example, bases its plot on the historical figure of Julius Caesar, an ancient Roman military general who was assassinated by contemporaneous senators for fear that he possessed too much political power in the republic. Our world’s culture and history are imperative to understanding the past and present, and for avoiding the same mistakes in the future. Yet many shun the process of learning history as it often comes in the form of long and dull history classes. To turn things around, operas take away the boring bits of history and leave audiences with the ultimate, enjoyable learning-in-theatre experience.

5. Operas as an affordable pastime

Whilst it would be ridiculously expensive to frequent the pubs in Lan Kwai Fong for late-night drinks, treat golfing as a hobby, or watch concerts in the Hong Kong Coliseum a few times per year, seeing operas would be a fairly affordable pastime to the average Hong-Konger. Tickets to live opera performances come in a wide price range, with the cheapest ones priced at $150 that would probably seat you at the upper circle of the Grand Theatre in the Hong Kong Cultural Centre. More Than Musical, on the other hand, offers a much more appealing deal. For just $210, members of ASHK and MTM could savour a free-flow of exquisite drinks, engage in insightful conversations with classically trained theatre singers, and engross in live performances delivered by world-famous performers and artistic directors. Most importantly, More Than Musical guarantees that opera-goers wouldn’t have to watch performances from above the stage in a bird’s eye view − without a stage in the theatre, everyone could stand close to the performers and fully immerse themselves in the ravishing music and drama.

6. Classical music boosts your brain power

If you’re still unmoved by the many artistic appeals of operas, here’s a scientific reason why you should check out the latest opera programmes and sign up for one. Dr. Gordon Shaw, a UC Irvine researcher and physicist, revealed that college students performed better than the average students in a spatial reasoning test after being exposed to 10 minutes of Mozart’s Sonata for Two Pianos in D Major (K. 448). This groundbreaking finding, dubbed the Mozart Effect, supports the proposition that classical music improves spatial reasoning and brain power. In simpler terms, listening to opera music makes you smarter. 

Rather than resorting to rock music which hurts your ears and sends a chill through your spine, why not listen to some classical music and immerse in the chorus to recharge yourself? Come back to More Than Musical’s website to check out our latest events!

Hidden Gems in the Music Entertainment Industry: Operas

In the 21st century when the effects of cultural globalization have fully emerged, you are probably living in a cave tucked behind the hills if you have never heard of terms like K-pop, J-pop or rock music. No matter you are a college student working tirelessly on your term papers or a white-collar employee sitting 24/7 in front of a desktop, you must have heard of these contemporary, popular music genres. You may even be able to name your favourite artists from bands or sing along with their songs and choruses in a foreign language. I’ve even seen hard-core fans fly from Hong Kong across the globe to see their favourite bands’ live performances.

But what about operas? When was the last time you looked up programmes for opera shows, or visited the opera house to watch a live performance? Have you ever attended an opera in Hong Kong? Can you recall the titles of at least three well-known operas? Do you know any opera composers? If you think you are a music lover but have negative answers to these questions, you are definitely missing a big fun part of the music entertainment industry. Read more to discover what you don’t know about operas!

Quick facts about operas

A typical opera is a staged drama set to music. In an opera, you will find stage performers who serve as both vocalists and actors, or sometimes dancers to tell stories in their euphonic voices and fluid dance moves. These performers are usually accompanied by an orchestra which provides music to the opera. An opera is a live performance where a drama is sung instead of spoken. In more figurative terms, it is a story coming to life in the theatre.

Historical development of operas

The origins of operas can be traced back to the Renaissance period dated 400 years ago. Against the backdrop of the cultural movement of reinvigorating literature and arts in Europe, the first opera, Dafne, was performed in Italy in the late 1500s in the hope to revive classical Greek dramas.

Operas quickly took off in Europe. The early operas were not performed in opera houses, but in Italian courts as live performances to entertain guests. During the Baroque period (1600 – 1750), operas were mainly of the opera seria style, which meant serious opera with a mythological or classical theme. Operas continued to thrive in the following classical period (1750 – 1800). This period saw the rise of a new opera style, opera buffa. Echoing the contemporaneous Age of Enlightenment, operas of this type tended to question aristocracy and authority. The quintessential example of opera enshrining Enlightenment beliefs was La serva padrona, in which a maid outwitted and tricked her master into marrying her, making her way up the social ladder in a disturbingly unscrupulous manner. The storyline of La serva padrona was then adapted in operas composed later in the same period as well as the Romantic period (1800 – 1890), many of which depicted exceptionally intimate relationships and promiscuity between masters and servants.

World-famous operas

The wild imagination and creativity of gifted composers have given birth to hundreds of thousands of masterpieces. As time passes, some of these operas have been obliterated. Yet many remain popular and are regularly performed in opera houses even today. Here are three must-know, world-famous operas and their synopsis:

1. Carmen (1875) by Georges Bizet

Carmen, the female protagonist of the opera, was a gypsy lady who captivated the hearts of all men in town — Don José the soldier was no exception. When Don José was commanded to arrest Carmen for initiating a fight, Carmen flirted with the young man, who then set her free in breach of his duty as a soldier. Poor Don José fell head over heels for Carmen, but she already had her eye on Escamillo, a charismatic bullfighter. What entailed was an intricate love triangle fraught with passion and jealousy…

Despite the wild success of Carmen as an opera, it actually started off amongst criticism from opera singers, directors and the audience. The opera did not acquire the popularity it now has (its overture and chorus are widely used around the world today) until the death of Georges Bizet, see the full story here: "

2. Don Giovanni (1787) by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

The story was about Don Giovanni, a libertine nobleman who never ceased to surprise others with his undisciplined pleasure-seeking behaviour. Many had sworn vengeance against Don Giovanni — for trespassing on their property, killing the Commendatore in a duel, seducing a bride on her wedding day and the list went on. When this daring man heard a warning from the graves, he unflinchingly invited the ghost to join him for dinner. Curious what would happen next? This opera will be performed in Hong Kong very soon. Check out programme details to grab your ticket to the theatre!

For Don Giovanni’s programme details and more live performances in Hong Kong, see:

3. La Traviata (1853) by Giuseppi Verdi

On the face, Violetta was a famed, beautiful courtesan. Behind all the glamour and luxury, illness was slowly nibbling away her life. When Violetta fell in love a bourgeois named Alfredo, her father demanded that she part with her lover to preserve their family’s reputation. In a dilemma between fidelity to her father and lover, Violetta left Alfredo without explanation, leaving behind nothing but a farewell note. Stricken with grief and outraged, Alfredo decided to confront and denounce the sick lady at her party. Could the broken relationship be reconciled? Would Alfredo ever unveil Violetta’s true love for him?

This romantically tragic opera in Hong Kong was performed by More Than Musical back in late 2017. Missed our opera? Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!

Craving for an unconventional opera experience in Hong Kong? More Than Musical might be what you’re looking for!

If we talked about operas ten years ago, you would probably think of opera singers singing at the top of their lungs on the stage at the front of the theatre. If you are a student, or cannot afford to pay for the pricey tickets that guarantee a seat in the front rows, you will most likely be seated at the back of the theatre, looking down at the live performance at a far distance from the stage, where the performers are no larger than ants from your vantage point. To most people, this is the typical opera experience you can find in Hong Kong. Note that I used the word ‘typical’ — it means some unconventional opera experiences are available out there in the city.


Established in 2017, More Than Musical is an opera company/NGO based in Hong Kong. With a passion for music and opera, its founding members aim to make operas more accessible, relevant and contemporary to the Hong Kong community. As its name suggests, More Than Musical delivers to its audience more than the average musical does. At More Than Musical’s programmes, there will be no stages, no fixed seats and no more ant-like opera singers. You will find yourself in stageless live performances where the audience can actually watch the performers in close proximity, observing their facial expressions and gestures, feeling their vocal vibrations as well as admiring their melodic voices. What’s more, More Than Musical hosts open bars before, during and after each live performance. In Hong Kong where the masses work to their maximum stress levels, is there a better way to relax and spend your evening than taking sips of champagne over chats in anticipation prior to an opera, enjoying the immersive performance while alcohol adds to your excitement, and interacting with talented opera singers after their breathtaking performance? With More Than Musical, you will find moments of peace through operas in the hectic city. It is the oasis for opera in Hong Kong for frequenters and those who wish to discover more about operas alike.


In an era where digital technologies take the lead and the classical entertainment industry seems to take a backseat, and where creativity and innovation are inherently emphasized, entertainment providers in the music industry have gone to great lengths to make their programmes stand out to attract the crowds. In this everlasting quest for originality, we have seen outdoor operas where audiences and performers are no longer confined in a closed area in the opera house, classical operas held in off-the-wall venues as opposed to traditional theatres, as well as performers who invite the masses to join in singing the chorus during live performances, just to name a few. Yet none of these can deliver an opera experience in Hong Kong as immersive and engaging as More Than Musical does. In an intimate performance venue and with open bars which foster close interaction between the audience and performers, you would gasp at how close to the opera singers you can come to.


Still not sure whether opera is your thing? Hesitant to walk out on traditional opera performances and try something new? Need more of a nudge to sign up for More Than Musical’s programmes? Here is one last reason for you to give it a try. Whilst the average opera lasts for two to three hours (inclusive of intermissions), each of More Than Musical’s programmes lasts for only 90 minutes. It gives you a compact, intensive opera experience out of your 24/7 busy work life. If you find the opera dull and boring, then you can walk out of the theatre after only 90 minutes and forget that you have ever been to this performance. Just 90 minutes. 90 minutes and you don’t have to put up with boring classical music anymore. But of course, this isn’t going to happen.


To keep up with the modern culture and tear off the label of classical operas in Hong Kong being lifeless, uninteresting and catered for the old people, modern elements have been injected into More Than Musical’s operas. To better fit the opera context, the vast majority of opera singers dress in gorgeous, extravagant costumes analogous to those worn by nobles dated back in the eighteenth century. More Than Musical’s operas, on the other hand, take a bold move and break through from the norms of the industry by acting as modern characters, dressing up in modern ways, and incorporating state-of-the-art technologies in their live performances — you might find an opera singer using her iPhone XR as one of the props in a performance! Not surprisingly, this novel approach has been well-received with positive feedback. Music lovers from across the globe have flocked to More Than Musical’s operas in Hong Kong, and tickets sell out fast.


What are you waiting for? Check out the latest programmes offered by More Than Musical, grab your tickets online at, enjoy the contemporary opera and walk out of the theatre signing up for the next upcoming show before you even know it!


Looking for something different? Here’s the alternative to a movie night out- opera in Hong Kong

If you are a local, you know how the saying goes: 「行街睇戲食飯。」 The well-known colloquial expression describes the typical night out for people living in 21st-century Hong Kong - shopping, dining, then going to the movies. And the place for your hangout? It is always at one shopping mall or another. If your family and friends start to complain about the predictable routine, or if you are desperate for a spark of an idea for your next date with the person of your dreams, the More than Musical gigs are here to spice up your evening by filling it with 2 hours of lovely music, and of course - a late-night drink with your companions.


Who is More Than Musical? What do they do?

More Than Musical is a registered non-governmental organization/ opera company in Hong Kong, dedicated to bringing opera and other classical music concerts to the Hong Kong community. The goal of the MTM team is to make the theatre up close and personal to the audience of the 21st century. Since 2017, they have put on live operas in Hong Kong ranging from modern renditions of Verdi’s La Traviata and Puccini’s Tosca, to light-hearted gigs where guests got to enjoy a night of jazz and cocktails. The team provides various opportunities for young members of the chorus to perfect their skills, while ensuring the shows are of the best ones that are available in town - the latest production, “A Night of Deadly Love”, features the exceptional Stefan Gordan and Michelle Lange from the American Vocal Studio, who sang about the tragedies of love in front of a full house at the cosy Salon 10 bar.


#1 popular belief: “Thanks but I will pass. The theatre is SO last-century.”

Well, you are not wrong because the theatre does have a rich and colourful history that is worth celebrating. Even if you are just talking about the history of opera, its intellectual origins can be traced way back to Handel’s works from the Baroque period (1600-1750). Not only is the opera house a place for the best of artists to realize their aspirations, but it has also been a safe haven for playwrights to make their point on socio-political issues. They have depicted what was regarded as scandalous, such as the seducing female figure in Carmen, and fearlessly questioned the social and political structures of their times. On one hand, the MTM team pays tribute to the tradition in its every production by inviting top-notch performers to reenact the critical scenes of opera masterpieces. On the other hand, the team have worked on modernizing the theatre culture so that the productions are more than operas belonging to centuries passed. Do check out the La Traviata trailer on and you will see that for once cellphone use was allowed in the theatre as a prop for the contemporary setting of the production. Opera is just for the silver generation? Think again.


#2 popular belief “Opera is for the upper crust. I won’t be able to connect with the story nor the performers.”

Most of us might be under the impression that opera is always exclusive to the upper class and portrays a world that is far removed from the everyday life of the general public. In fact, research shows that the first opera house catered for music lovers from all walks of life. The art form maintained as popular entertainment for many urban Europeans and Americans throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries, and the opera house was often the meeting place of all social classes (Storey 32-33). You may think, “Still, I won’t be able to understand the opera stories.” No worries! In MTM gigs you will not need to deal with the generation gap between you and the guy who wrote the opera a century ago. Similar to other literary forms of expression, operas are incredibly personal as they are all about human emotions conveyed through the medium of vocal cords, body movements, and instrumental music. Friendship and loyalty, love and hatred… surely there is something for everyone to resonate with. What is special about the MTM live shows is that, not only are the adaptations modern and relatable, but the team has also broken the fourth wall between performers and the audience. Have you ever had the experience where you went to your favourite singer’s concert, but it was held in such a huge venue that all you could see was the top of his/her head? Good news - you don’t need to bring concert binoculars to our live shows. You will get to share a more intimate space with the singers as MTM gigs are held in small, cosy venues where you can see clearly the scene of action and feel strongly the impact of the human voice. The singers will not be out of your league - you can stay after the performance to share a drink with them at the open bar and raise any questions you have on the opera!

#3 popular belief “I don’t have the time for this. Operas are too long and boring.”

For those who think they might just doze off to sleep if the show lasts as long as the final Avengers movie (3-hour length), don’t worry about it. The MTM team has made the productions accessible to the modern audience and as for now, each programme runs for approximately 90 minutes. It will be like watching your average commercial movie, with just a few extra benefits in store. Ever wish you could refill your glass at the theatre? There is an open bar before and during the programme for the audience to quench their thirst while taking their time to digest what just happened on stage. Try attending one of MTM’s operas in Hong Kong and you might just change your mind on opera! Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!

HKEJ Media Coverage 2018 (Full)


Hong Kong Economic Journal

B08  |   經管智慧  |   經管錦言  |   By 陳慧鈴  |   2018-10-13


兩年前,她與香港歌劇院一位前任董事長谷川留美子(Rumiko)創立了一個名為More than Musical(無限音樂劇場)的非牟利歌劇團,去年更獲TEDxTinHauWomen邀請為演講嘉賓,細談創業故事,並即席表演唱功,令人印象深刻。今年更上一層樓,成為TEDxLondonBusinessSchool的演講嘉賓,在倫敦與一眾MBA學生分享其創業故事。


與Lucy共同創辦More than Musical的Rumiko退休前是高盛的合夥人,她在東京的工時甚長,加上要照顧女兒,沒有什麼私人時間,更遑論培養興趣。有一天,一位好友跟她說「我們不能一輩子光是工作而沒有興趣」,於是喜歡唱歌的她便開始學習歌劇,從此開始找到人生的新方向與熱誠。7年前她搬到香港工作後成為香港歌劇院的董事,因此認識了Lucy。二人志趣相投,均希望將傳統的歌劇年輕化、現代化,將這項藝術帶入普羅大眾的生活圈子之中。


組織的兩位創辦人均認為歌劇的藝術價值遠超音樂劇,但兩者的受歡迎程度大相逕庭。她們為此特別將非牟利組織命名為More than Musical,冀喚醒大家對歌劇的興趣,從而欣賞其背後的藝術價值。



兩位創辦人將傳統歌劇簡化為90分鐘的版本,而舉辦的地點也不再是文化中心或演藝學院等傳統場地。例如將於10月30日至11月2日舉行的歌劇The kiss of Tosca《托斯卡之吻》,將於上環潮點The Annex舉行。舞台也不再是傳統的華麗舞台,而是把場景影像投射,讓觀眾近距離感受演出者的不凡唱腔與情緒。觀眾在表演後除了可在現場特設的酒吧與朋友把酒言歡,更可與表演者交流。這比傳統的歌劇平易近人,亦更易吸引一些對歌劇認識不多的觀眾。此外,二人更將歌劇帶入社區,例如不時在年輕人的蒲點舉辦Opera gig,即輕盈版歌劇表演。這些蒲點包括中區的酒吧及私人會所。讓觀眾一邊品酒,一邊欣賞男女歌唱家即席表演,現場更有鋼琴家伴奏。由於演出形式新鮮,加上happy hour的概念,吸引了不少年輕觀眾,開拓出一個新市場。現時More than Musical每年大約會舉辦3至4次類似的表演。


兩位創辦人最初成立More than Musical時,單是籌組班底已不容易。由於歌劇界多年來運作如出一轍,因此要找一些與二人有共同理念的幕前幕後團隊也是廢盡唇舌。幸好來自台灣的音樂總監兼鋼琴師徐惟恩與兩人的想法一致,並引薦屢獲殊榮的美籍歌劇導演慕尼(Nic Muni)給二人。Rumiko為說服慕尼擔任More than Musical精華版歌劇的導演,更特地跑到紐約與他會面,終獲其首肯加盟。


More than Musical去年首次推出劇目,並獲得太古集團贊助在旗下的ArtisTree演出《茶花女》,全數門票售罄。問到有何策略令More than Musical ( 可將此成功延續下去,二人不約而同表示仍在揣摩中,因此不時收集觀眾與團隊的意見,在製作與推廣上作出調節,務求為歌劇帶來變革再帶入群眾。



Why me? Why opera? Why More than Musical?

Hi, this is Serena Pau, Head of Production Committee at More than Musical. Being a tech startup founder, a lot of people are surprised to find out that my other passion is in show production/music, as A) it is not logical like the tech world and B) I don’t even play any musical instrument in a proper manner. Having to run a tech startup is already quite a heavy workload and in fact, why would I want to be volunteering as head of production and gain experience of opera in Hong Kong production?

Well, passion is very often developed when you are young, with or without knowing it. I started my “show biz” when I was 8 in school and was acting as a parrot in an interschool drama competition and our show back then was “The Jungle Story”. Honestly, I do not recall much of the show details since I was acting in at least another 10 shows till I was 18, but one thing is still impactful to me: the costumes and make up I had over the 10 years.

I grew up in a family with love for performing art: opera, classical music, Chinese opera, musicals etc were part of our family events in the past time and I really enjoyed the value of live shows, now being in one myself. Imagine if you go to an opera and the costume look outdated, the actors are wrongly chose and the lighting was totally off, what would your impression be? Every small detail in a show matters as they affect each other and they all have to be delivered at the show at the right time.


I believe my passion in building a tech startup could easily be applied at the Kiss of Tosca production, it is all about sourcing the right resources to deliver the show at the right time. Costume making and make-up artist alignment are my major duty and these two parties have never met but yet they have to work closely with each other. The most difficult thing of all however is, we need to make sure both parties understand what our director and designer Nic Muni wants and Nic is based in the USA while we are based in Hong Kong. Let alone language barrier with all the technical terms being translated and the time zone difference, design communication has never been easy. There were still communication issues especially with the costume, how can we describe a fabric swatch and discuss about it just on video calls? The costumes are extremely costly and to me, the most important part of the show and we have to make it right, as this is the first impression that we are creating to the audience.


I am extremely thankful that I have found very hard working and passionate teammates like Cindy from Cindyalan who is a third generation tailor and Li our make-up artist, who has extensive experience in concerts and movies. Without such a passionate team, we could hardly make things move forward. Both ladies are serious in what they are going to deliver and are ready to go for the extra miles without being pushed by the More than Musical team.


The story does not stop here as the hair piece of Tosca is yet to be delivered form Rhode Island to Hong Kong before the show and our stage production team is busy with the props, the stage platform and the lighting ques. I could hardly imagine even if a chair is missing, what would happened. Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!

#thebestisyettocome #operahongkong

21st October 2018

In the making of The Kiss of Tosca

Hi, this is Lucy, co-founder of More Than Musical. People are usually quite fascinated by how much time and effort it took us to put an opera together, I would share with you some facts behind the production of The Kiss of Tosca.

The soul of our The Kiss of Tosca is our Director/Artistic Director Mr. Nic Muni, hence the first step to create this Opera was to discuss with Nic, regarding to his vision. We confirmed the repertoire (i.e. which opera we are presenting), the venue and the performance dates around 1 year ago.

At around the same time we confirmed that we are presenting a 90mins adaptation of Puccini’s Tosca, we started to find our talents – how many singers do we need? What are the voice types? They must be available for our performance dates plus 10-14 extra dates prior the Premiere for rehearsals, hence locking their schedules is a very important step.

After 2-3 months after we have decided that we are presenting The Kiss of Tosca, our Director started to share his drawings with us, began with the floor & lighting plans. As we are presenting the opera at Annex, a black-box style venue with no fixed seats, we are basically renting an “empty box” with no infrastructure and technical support.  We are bringing in every single light, projectors, screen, chairs and furniture you are seeing in the Opera!

From the moment we got the drawings from Director, we started to work closely with our Production manager and vendors to sort out big items like projectors & screens, smaller but essential items like pops and costumes. As we are a new opera company, we are very tight in budget and human resources, hence we spend a lot of time to source for the best of values – in terms of price and effect. Trust me, each time you come to our opera, you are experiencing a world-class opera production!

On the other hand, we also needed to start planning for PR & Marketing. How and where should we be advertising? What parties/organizations can we collaborate with? When should we start selling tickets? What is our Marketing and PR plan? What is the point of creating beautiful operas without reaching to as many as we can? We need to put the same effort in creating the production as well as to spread our word. We started selling tickets of The Kiss of Tosca in July, since then, we have been monitoring our ticket sales, social media accounts closely, to attract more eyeballs and website traffics.

Every day, our core team members and volunteers are working very hard behind the scene, as we want to bring you a moment of magic and an escape from the world by coming to our operas. Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!

Tosca and I - Making Opera in Hong Kong

I am Rumiko Hasegawa, Founder of More Than Musical. I remember clearly my first opera aria on a stage was Puccini's "Vissi D'Arte Vissi D'Amore" ("I lived for art, I lived for love") from Tosca 13 years ago. It was quite a transition from Madonna's "Material Girl". I was working on the trading floor of American investment bank, Tokyo office, headed a sales desk covering Japanese clients and my Madonna was a big hit.

It was so random when another working mother friend talked me into starting a new hobby - singing opera aria. She said, "It is terrible! We have no hobby! Let's sing opera aria!". One of my usual sayings is "Why not?" and I say it on the trading floor to try new ideas and approaches. So I said "Why not?" to her.

My first singing lesson was a disaster. But it was fun to sing beautiful Italian opera arias with a piano. I got totally hooked. As the teacher was brave and I was shameless, we chose "Vissi D'Arte Vissi D'Amore" as my aria for the first concert. Then vigorous practice began. Singing every night at home in a walk-in closet, door closed, and every weekend at a lesson exposed me to an opportunity to express the feeling of love and hatred passionately. I found the emotional outlet. I revealed myself and started to feel comfortable being vulnerable. I feel human.

I was running at the fastest pace on the trading floor, leading a sales team and trying to be a good mother. I had had no time for myself and stopped breathing deep to look into myself. What a different life I rediscovered!

"I live for art and I live for love" is a perfect song at this stage of my life. Starting "More Than Musical" , making operas in Hong Kong, and surrounded with my loving family and friends to pursue my passion of opera is just PERFECT! Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!

“La Traviata”, Verdi’s lover “in sin”

“La Traviata” is Verdi’s biographic opera.

Verdi was living with a very famous opera singer, Giuseppina Strepponi, “in sin” for a number of years.  In those days, singers were considered more or less a prostitute and she was pregnant five times previously.  They lived in Paris and then moved to countryside just like Violetta and Alfredo.

Violetta was modeled after a real person, Marie Duplessis, who was a mistress of Alexandre Dumas, a novelist.  He wrote a story “Lady of the Camellia”, based on their own love life. Marie was an icon courtesan. People in the social crowd in Paris looked up as she was the most sophisticated, elegant, beautiful, fashionable woman on earth and also looked down as she was at last a prostitute.  Duma did not marry Marie…

You got a picture of Violatta’s social status as “demi monde”(a class of women considered to be of doubtful social standing and morality in 19th century Paris)?

Verdi and Strepponi saw its play and Verdi composed the opera immediately. Verdi performed this opera in Paris and it created a big scandal. It was too realistic and made the “demi monde” public. It showed “hypocrisy” of the society up to people’s faces. Too revealing and confronting.

Here is our opera director, Nic Muni’s note about “La Traviata”. You would see why “La Traviata”  is still relevant and matter to us NOW.

La Traviata is a story about social and religious hypocrisy.

Wealthy men were permitted mistresses, they were permitted to attend all-night parties of the demi-monde, which were in essence, orgies. Orgies of the senses, of libido and of gastronomy. That these same men simultaneously insisted on virginal behavior by the women in their familial circles created a dilemma for women: if you were independent, sexually and otherwise, you were outcast from respectable and respected society.

In order to depict this dilemma, it is critical that Violetta, as elegant as she is, is portrayed for what she actually is: a prostitute who trades physical intimacy for financial gain. She is beautiful, intelligent, well-mannered, elegant and gracious. She gives pleasure to men, not only sexually but emotionally and psychologically—and she is so expert at these acts of love that men are addicted to her company.

So, it is understandable to deplore her lifestyle, even to be offended by it. But then she truly falls in love and gives up her lucrative and licentious lifestyle, completely and permanently. Can a person be forgiven for their mistakes, however heinous? Can a woman be forgiven?

That is the critical question of the piece. And I’m afraid that Verdi’s answer—not his own, but that of society’s as he saw it--is a resounding “no”.

Allow yourself to be offended by the behavior of some of the characters. Allow yourself to feel sympathy with Violetta’s plight, to struggle with Germont’s request, to pity Alfredo’s rage. By stripping away the veneer of traditional opera production, by presenting it in a very intimate setting, by shortening and focusing the operas themselves, it is our fondest hope that you will become involved in whatever way the evening moves you. The important thing is to allow yourself to be affected. Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!


Welcome to MTM opera blog

Thank you for visiting our blog!

I am Rumiko Hasegawa, Founder of More Than Musical in Hong Kong.  To start off, I want to introduce myself and More Than Musical.

I often get asked why I started an opera company after retiring as a Goldman Sachs partner. It was definitely quite a career change!

I started singing opera arias about twelve years ago in Tokyo as a hobby when I was busy at work and taking care of my family. During this time, I experienced a magical moment. I found that singing opera arias lifted the lid off my heart. It was a spiritual experience, as these beautiful operas touched my heart and I even found myself with tears coming out of my eyes. I felt as though my soul got purified with the power of opera.

This got me thinking, why are there not more people interested in opera?

Reasons could include:

“It’s too long!”

“3 hours at the concert hall with thousand of strangers who seem to know what’s going on.”

“I am the only one who doesn’t know anything. It’s too intimidating!”

“I don't know the story and don't understand the language.”


OK! I hear you!

So I decided to start a new company to present opera to people’s lifestyle and to make opera accessible. We will break the barriers that keep people away from opera.

Yes! We will present an opera in 90 minutes, which is a commercial movie length. We will have a bar that you and some friends hang out at and before the opera, and meet the artists afterwards.

It will be located at a small intimate venue with no stage set up. The audience will surround the singers, and they will be up close and personal with them. Close enough that you can see the singer’s facial expressions!

I could not go on this journey alone, as I am very lucky to have Lucy Choi as my co-founder and Wei-En Hsu as our artistic director. They are just as crazy about opera as I am!


Our first opera “La Traviata” will be presented on June 17th and 18th at ArtisTree in Taikoo Place. The tickets are already all sold out! Thank you for your support!

We invited an opera director, Nic Muni, from the U.S. and he will also conduct two master classes on June 16th. It will be open for ticket reservation soon.

We will also have two opera workshop “Opera Inside Out” on July 2nd at PMQ as a part of HK 20th anniversary of Hand-Over celebration program.

I will upload weekly blog every Wednesday to share how to enjoy opera, especially “La Traviata”.

Please stay tuned! Check out our other programmes on to see if anything interests you!


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