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Opera ‘Faust’ to put love, faith to the test

French composer Charles Goudnod’s opera “Faust,” which premiered in the mid-19th century in Paris, is one of the most frequently performed operas in the world. The Metropolitan Opera in New York City alone has staged it more than 750 times since 1883.

The Korea National Opera is to stage “Faust” from March 16-20 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater. It is the second of the opera company’s four-part series of operas based on Goethe’s classic play “Faust.” The first was Italian composer Arrigo Boito’s “Mefistofele,” performed in Seoul in October 2010.
Tenor Kim Woo-kyung (left) playing Faust and bass Samual Ramey playing Mephistopheles in “Faust” The Korea National Opera (The Korea National Opera)
Tenor Kim Woo-kyung (left) playing Faust and bass Samual Ramey playing Mephistopheles in “Faust” The Korea National Opera (The Korea National Opera)

Tenor Kim Woo-kyung will debut on the Korean opera scene by playing Faust. Kim became the first Korean opera singer to be a major cast member at the Metropolitan Opera in New York in 2007 for his role of Alfredo in “La Traviata.” He was also the first Korean to win first place at the World Opera Competition, founded by tenor Placido Domingo in 2004.

Mephistopheles, the devil who tempts Faust into selling his soul in exchange for youth, will be played by bass Samuel Ramey, a veteran U.S. opera singer who has won three Grammy Awards and made more than 80 recordings.

The Korea Symphonic Orchestra and Italian conductor Ottavio Mariono, who has been frequently staging operas in Korea since 2005, will join the KNO.

In the famous work, the aging scholar Faust, who has mastered theology, philosophy, law and medicine, comes to realize that his studies have led him to nothing and tries to kill himself. Mephistopheles appears, suggesting that he trade his soul.

Faust agonizes between Marguerite’s pure love and the devil’s temptation. Marguerite becomes pregnant with Faust’s child and gives birth to a baby. Although she later is manipulated by the devil to lead Faust to lust, she is saved by her pure and holy love toward Faust.

“Even if we could turn back our time to gain a new life, we only humans might repeat the tragedies we have created. We’re all in a similar situation to Faust in a way,” said opera critic Lee Sun-yeol.

“We can also expect beautiful arias and the ballet scenes.”

Greek soprano Alexia Voulgaridou will play the role of Marguerite. Tenor Baek Yoon-ki and bass Park Joon-hyuk have been double cast for Faust and Mephistopheles, respectively.

Tickets range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5282 or visit www.sac.or.kr.

By Kim Yoon-mi (yoonmi@heraldcorp.com)
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