Hong Kong’s Sunbeam Theatre. Photo by William Li.
The curtain is falling on Hong Kong’s last dedicated Cantonese opera theatre which will fade into history after its final show this week:
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.
It has earned landmark status on Hong Kong’s art scene, standing in stoic defiance of the former British colony’s transformation into a flashy, ultra-modern hub of finance and banking.
But after years fending off Hong Kong’s all-powerful property developers, the curtain will come down for the final time on Sunday when the Sunbeam stages its last, sell-out performance.
Opera star and playwright Yuen Siu-fai, 66, says the Sunbeam’s fate typifies the loss of Hong Kong’s cultural heritage to the pursuit of profit.
“This is a huge blow for Cantonese opera,” he says.
“We are losing a cultural landmark, we are losing our main theatre. Where do we go? This is another great example of how we don’t preserve our historical buildings.”