It seemed unlikely that a career on the trading floor as an investment banker at Goldman Sachs would later pave the way for life in the performing arts. This is one of life’s beautiful paradoxes, as told by Rumiko Hasegawa. “I fell in love with opera when I was still working on the trading floor in Tokyo as I randomly picked up a hobby of singing opera arias. Opera changed my life,” she begins. After retiring from finance, she founded More Than Musical (MTM) Opera Company with a vision for making the art form more accessible to modern audiences. “I realized that opera is not very approachable and accessible for newcomers. The perception is too long, too boring, too irrelevant. So I changed the style or opera to fit the present lifestyle.” Since the shift, Rumiko has been leading a life of symphony and style.
- What keeps you busy these days?
Carmen | HK opera will be presented on July 30th and 31st. I am busy for preparing the production.
- How did you come to find your current career or life’s work?
After I retired Goldman Sachs, I decided to found an opera company More Than Musical (MTM), which is specialized in accessible and immersive opera. I fell in love with opera when I was still working on the trading floor in Tokyo as I randomly picked up a hobby of singing opera arias. Opera changed my life. I realized that opera is not very approachable and accessible for newcomers. The perception is too long, too boring, too irrelevant. So I changed the style or opera to fit the present lifestyle. We condensed a four-hour opera to 90 minutes and perform at a small immersive theatre with a contemporary story setting. Our mission is to share the beautiful art form of opera to tell the story of human drama to diverse communities.
- What is it about your work or career that you enjoy most?
Creating the concept of new production and forming the casts and the creative team. When I think out-of- box and challenge the status quo of this traditional art form, I get energized and excited.
- What do you consider to be “hazards of the job?”
Forming the team with the right people is the most important key to success. We have to be resilient to make the production happen despite the unexpected circumstances. Finding the right funding sources is also essential as opera is quite expensive to produce in a high quality.
- For women who aspire for similar careers, what would be your advice?
Identify the vision and mission of your new journey. You must know what is your risk tolerance level financially to try something totally new. Find the right partner(s) to brainstorm new ideas and get corrected candidly when needed.
- What are the career milestones that inspire you to break the glass or mold?
When we got the Art Development Council matching grant for Carmen | Hong Kong, our vision and mission was first acknowledged as the largest funding by the HK government. This was a huge career leap for me, coming from a background completely different from art.
- How do you balance work and family life? What are activities that enable you to bond with family?
I prioritize certain family matters over work. I also share my vision and mission with my family and share with them what I am working on. Oftentimes, I would even ask them to proofread my writing and proposals. As much as I can I try to get them involved in my projects—whether big or small.
Our family's most important activity is EATING! We plan meals together. My daughter and I also enjoy shopping together. She trusts my taste as I do hers. We used to go on long trips each year to explore new places like the Galapagos or Machu Pichu. We hope to do this again next year.
- How do you unwind or rewind? Any favourite spots in your current city that you consider as your me-time haven?
I practice Tai Chi with a group of girlfriends twice a week. I am also learning how to take better care of my body and nourish myself. My me-time haven is in the theatres. Once in a while I indulge in concerts or dances all by myself.
- How would you describe your personal style? What are three your wardrobe essentials?
Fashion is a way of self-expression to me, presenting who and what I am. Recently, my style has evolved from classic and elegant to something more artsy. Three essentials in my wardrobe include: wide leg silk Turkish pants, long dangling earrings that balance out the symmetry of my haircut, a flowy silk blouse.
- What makes for a good investment piece? Kindly cite examples of
pieces in your current wardrobe.
A Fendi fur coat I bought in 2008, which I wear with both jeans or long gowns. I purchased it directly from the Fendi atelier in Rome.
- What do pearls mean to you?
Pearls are a personal expression of me admiring natural beauty.