Cantonese opera star ruled the stage

Lam Ka Sing, who was 82, had also appeared in more than 300 films

Lam Ka Sing was a child prodigy who played his first role at nine years old.
Lam Ka Sing was a child prodigy who played his first role at nine years old.PHOTO: APPLE DAILY

HONG KONG • Cantonese opera master Lam Ka Sing, a star of the stage and the screen, died in Kwong Wah Hospital in Hong Kong on Tuesday night, said newspapers. He was 82.

Lam, who had lived with Parkinson's disease for about 22 years, collapsed at his home in Kowloon Tong and was rushed to hospital, said Ming Pao Daily News. He was pronounced dead at 11.13pm, said the newspaper.

Lam's interest in Cantonese opera began in childhood, when he went to shows with his father, said Ming Pao.

He was born to a station-master in Hong Kong in 1933, said Apple Daily. He and his older sister, singer and actress Lam Kar Yee, were brought up by their father after their mother died in 1936.

A Cantonese opera prodigy, he was nine when he played his first role, Wu Song the outlaw.

When Hong Kong fell to the Japanese, the family fled to Guangzhou, where Lam studied under a partner of Cantonese opera great Sit Kok Sin. After the war ended and Lam returned to Hong Kong, he became Sit's final disciple.

Lam appeared in more than 300 films, beginning in 1947 in Prostituting To Raise The Orphan, said Apple Daily.

A wenwusheng, he played both scholars and warriors. He established two Cantonese opera troupes in the 1960s, and opened more than 40 shows, including The Pitiless Sword.

He announced his retirement in 1993, and moved to Toronto. When he returned for a rare performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum in 2009, the show was sold out in an hour, said Ming Pao.

At the peak of his career in 1962, he married Cantonese opera enthusiast Hung Dou Tzi, a disciple of superstar Hung Sin Nui. The couple had two sons.

His younger son, under work stress, committed suicide in Hong Kong in 2003.

His wife died of cancer in Toronto 2009.

Lam is survived by his older son.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 07, 2015, with the headline 'Obituary Cantonese opera star ruled the stage'. Print Edition | Subscribe