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 https://www.morethanmusical.org, enjoy the contemporary opera and walk out of the theatre signing up for the next upcoming show before you even know it!