Time was when we'd go to a cinema to see a film, the theatre for the performing arts and a pub or concert hall for a gig, but now technology is bringing down the barriers between the arts.
It's the latest high-definition (HD) cinema technology, in particular, that is having the greatest impact, and the experience of sitting in the front row at the opera, the ballet and even a rock concert can now almost be fully replicated on the big screen.
HD screenings of opera performances - sometimes even streamed live to cinemas - were pioneered by New York's Metropolitan Opera and London's Royal Opera in a bid to reach a wider audience. Despite complaints from some purists that the art form was being diluted, the screenings proved to be a success, boosting the famed opera houses' bottom lines in the middle of the economic crisis.
The development has been slow to come to Hong Kong, but as is so often the case with trends in this city, it never rains, it pours - and screens all over town are now bringing a variety of HD culture to the masses over the coming days and weeks.
In association with the Foundation for the Arts and Music in Asia, the Metropolitan Opera is presenting The Met: Live in HD in Hong Kong programme of 11 operas at the Academy for Performing Arts' Wellcome Theatre. On Saturday it will screen Donizetti's Don Pasquale, directed by James Levine and starring Anna Netrebko, while upcoming shows include Verdi's Don Carlo on February 12-13 and Puccini's La Fanciulla del West on March 5-6.
The Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet are also getting in on the act, with a selection of HD shows coming to screens operated by the MCL cinema chain. From the Royal Opera comes Verdi's La Traviata from tomorrow until January 29 and Puccini's La Boheme from Saturday to January 30, while the Royal Ballet is offering Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake from January 15-28. For full screening details, visit www.mclcinema.com.
Classical music fans are also being catered for by the iMagine Classical in Cinema programme of HD concerts and operas at the AMC cinema chain. Highlights include the 3 Stars in Vienna programme of works by composers such as Puccini and Verdi, from January 15-29, and Cyrano de Bergerac, starring Placido Domingo, from January 15-30. Full screening details can be found at www.amccinemas.com.hk.
Even indie music fans have something to look forward to during this deluge of the arts on the big screen. As part of the upcoming City Festival, the Fringe Club will host the Live@Stage-Tube screening of music videos by local indie bands on January 14 and 15. And to make it feel even more like a rock gig, the entry price even includes a drink to help get you in the mood.
Finally, Pina Bausch was one of the leading figures in modern German dance, and her life is being celebrated in a series of films presented by the Arts Festival and Broadway Cinematheque. The films, screening from January 15-23 at the IFC Mall's Palace IFC cinema, include the dance pieces Bluebeard and Cafe Muller, plus the documentary Pina Bausch, and full details can be found at www2.cinema.com.hk.
So enjoy a night out at the opera, 2011 style. With the shows in glorious HD, you can leave your opera glasses at home - and bring a bucket of popcorn instead.