HK Magazine Archive

A Night at the Cantonese Opera

The Hungry Ghost Festival falls on this Friday, but it’s not just spirits who will be walking the streets. This month will see Cantonese opera performances all over the city. Backstage photos by Kirk Kenny

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 August, 2015, 4:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 October, 2016, 4:48pm

Cantonese opera holds close to its traditions: This centuries-old art form encompasses singing, dancing, acting, drama, poetry, martial arts and acrobatics into a thrilling whole. It’s said to have originated from Foshan, in Guangdong province, before coming to Hong Kong.

But while many operas in China were modified to fit with the political doctrines of the Cultural Revolution—or banned outright—British-controlled Hong Kong allowed classic Cantonese opera to thrive. While attendance may be down, a select group is keeping this slice of heritage alive—and even evolving it for our modern age.

Kirk Kenny /

The Opera Veteran

Sun Kim-long is a veteran who regularly performs on stages all over Hong Kong.

Tin Ma Music and Opera Assn Ltd

The Playwright

Man Wah is a playwright and the founder and director of Tin Ma Music and Opera Association, Ltd.

Kirk Kenny /

The New Blood

Yuen Tak-man joined the Bright Sing Cantonese Opera Troupe two years ago as a full-time performer.

Cha Duk Chang

The Teacher

Stella Ma is the director of Cha Duk Chang Children’s Cantonese Opera Association.

Kirk Kenny /

Behind the Scenes

The secret bits: Take a backstage tour of the opera.

Kirk Kenny /

Cantonese Opera Shows to See

Places to go, things to see…