The Forgotten Opera House
Have you seen The Majestic in Chinatown? You can see a picture of it on page 16 of The Little Singapore Book.
It is a very pretty building near the bustling Chinatown MRT station, with a beautiful tiled frontage. But you may easily miss it when you walk past, because hardly anyone ever walks in there now. It sits quietly these days, almost unnoticed by passers-by.
This beautiful building was built almost 90 years ago as a Cantonese opera house, by a very rich and important Chinese businessman called Eu Tong Sen. (The name of the road where the building stands — Eu Tong Sen Street — is named after him.) He built it for his wife who loved Cantonese opera. Many years later, it became a cinema that showed Cantonese movies. In its heyday in the 1950s, The Majestic Theatre was very popular with Singaporeans and lots of film stars from Hong Kong also came to The Majestic.
Since it was closed in 1998, and turned into a shopping centre, no one really goes there anymore. That’s a little sad when you think how grand and busy it must have been a long time ago. Next time you walk past The Majestic, look up and spot the flying dragons and Chinese opera scenes set onto the front of the building.