It is dubbed the world's most expensive performance, with a total investment of HK$2 billion and a daily operating cost of US$100,000. Building the theatre to house the show alone cost US$250 million. But Melco co-chairman and chief executive Lawrence Ho Yau-lung prefers to talk about the intangible benefits The House of the Dancing Water will bring his City of Dreams casino resort complex in Macau. Speaking on the eve of the show's opening, Ho said: 'At the box office, we take it for the long term. We can recoup the cost in some years.' Ho, son of tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, remains tight-lipped on how much a full-house show can bring. Ho also keeps the number of seats secret. City of Dreams has a 420,000 sq ft casino with 400 gaming tables and 1,300 gaming machines, more than 20 restaurants and bars, a shopping centre and three hotels - Crown Towers, Hard Rock Hotel and Grand Hyatt Macau - with 1,400 rooms. Ho expects the company can recoup the HK$40 billion investment it made in 10 years. Melco International Development, the holding company for casino assets controlled by Ho, had its losses narrowed in the first half after the opening of City of Dreams, booking a loss of HK$218.2 million, down from HK$811.36 million a year ago. Casinos in the West rely on theatre and music to lure visitors to their casinos, either to entertain family members while their relatives gamble or in the hope that the crowd will gamble after the performance. But the poor performance of Zaia, the Cirque du Soleil show at the Venetian casino complex, casts a shadow over the prospects of The House of the Dancing Water to lure visitors. Zaia opened in August 2008. Venetian's owner, Las Vegas Sands Corp, spent US$150 million to build the 1,800-seat theatre for the show. The average attendance at the theatre is 65 per cent. Mainland visitors - the majority of those going to casinos in Macau - have not been willing to pay up to HK$160 for tickets and compose only a small fraction of the audience. Most attendees are from Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and India. The show's lack of appeal to mainland tastes has been blamed for the poor attendance. Tickets to the Melco Crown show will sell for HK$380 to HK$1,280. Its creator is the Belgian Franco Dragone, who directed nearly all Cirque du Soleil's best shows until 1988. The show takes place in a giant swimming pool and involves 77 performers, many of whom perform acrobatics. Ho thinks a major mistake Zaia made was not having a Chinese name. He says the story of The House of the Dancing Water has plenty of elements to appeal to mainlanders. Casino revenues in Macau increased 67 per cent in the first half to 85.85 billion patacas, just shy of four times greater than the US$2.8 billion in revenue the mega resorts on the Las Vegas Strip booked in the period. High-stakes play drove the increase, as a wave of stimulus-fuelled liquidity from the mainland trickled into the city's baccarat tables. VIP revenue rose 85 per cent to 61.13 billion patacas, accounting for a higher-than-usual 71 per cent of all Macau's gaming revenue.