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Puccini and Verdi operas coming in April

Maestro Chung Myung-whun, Seoul Philharmonic to perform in Verdi’s ‘Simon Boccanegra’

Popular operas by Italy’s two most famous opera composers ― Puccini and Verdi ― will be staged in Seoul in April.

The Seoul Metropolitan Opera Company will stage opera “Tosca,” one of the most frequently performed operas among Puccini’s works, from April 21 to April 24 at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts’ Grand Theater.

“If I have to pick the two greatest Italian opera composers, it would be Verdi and Puccini. As we have showcased Verdi’s ‘big five’ operas so far, we will stage Puccini who succeeded Verdi’s operatic style but did not lose his unique color,” said Park Se-won, general director of the Seoul Metropolitan Opera, who plans to stage Puccnini’s two operas this year ― “Tosca” in April and comic opera “Gianni Schicchi” in July.

“Because of his romantic and lyrical arias, not only opera lovers but the general audience love Puccini’s opera,” he said.

Soprano and tenor arias in “Tosca” were favorites of legendary opera singers like Maria Callas and Luciano Pavarotti. 
Poster for Puccini’s “Tosca.” (Sejong Center for the Performing Arts)
Poster for Puccini’s “Tosca.” (Sejong Center for the Performing Arts)

Among the Korean cast for “Tosca,” tenor Park Ki-chun and soprano Im Se-gyeong, who are both based in Europe, will play the role of Cavaradossi and Tosca, respectively.

The story unfolds as an escaped political prisoner Angelotti hides in a church, runs into painter Cavaradossi and gets his help.

The popular arias include “Recondita Armonia” by Cavaradossi in the first act, “Vissi d’Arte, Vissi d’Amore” by Tosca in the second act and “Elucevan le Stele” by Cavaradossi in the third act.

“Tosca” will be staged at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays, 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 120,000 won. For more information, call (02) 399-1783.

Meanwhile, the Korea National Opera Company is to showcase Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra” with maestro Chung Myung-whun and the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra from April 7 to April 10 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater.
Poster for Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra.” (The Korea National Opera Company)
Poster for Verdi’s “Simon Boccanegra.” (The Korea National Opera Company)

“Simon Boccanegra” is the work with which the 33-year-old Chung debuted at the New York Metropolitan Opera and received an enthusiastic response from the audience in 1986. In Korea, the KNOC first performed it in 2001.

Verdi, one of the most influential opera composers of the 19th century, poured out works continually, especially in the 1850s ― “Rigoletto” in 1851, “Il Trovatore” in 1853, “La Traviata” in 1853, “Les Vpres Siciliennes” in 1855, “Simon Boccanegra” in 1857 and “Un Ballo in Maschera” in 1859.

“Simon Boccanegra” premiered in 1881 after 25 years of countless revisions. Based on Spanish writer Antonio Garcia Gutierrez’ play, “Simon Boccanegra” is a story about a “doge,” or chief magistrate, of Genoa Simon Boccanegra who pursues love and peace over money and power.

Italian opera specialists such as director Marco Gandini, stage designer Italo Grassi and lighting designer Marco Filibeck will create the 14th-century set, while the National Chorus of Korea will empower the music.

Opera “Simon Boccanegra” will take place at 7:30 p.m. on weekdays and Saturday, and 5 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5282.

For those who prefer musicals to operas, the Seoul Metropolitan Musical Theater will showcase musical “Turando” based on Puccini’s opera “Turandot” from April 29 to May 25 at Sejong’s M Theater.

The Sejong Center is looking to gain some of the success of adaptations of two other Puccini operas ― “Madame Butterfly” and “La Boheme” ― into musicals “Miss Saigon” and “Rent.”

Although the story will be based on the opera, the Seoul Musical Theater will create entirely-new music and newly interpret main characters. The title “Turando,” is Korean for “a lonely orchid which has become a painting.”

Fashion designer Lie Sang-bong will produce costumes for the character Turando and a 12-member orchestra will provide live music.

As the musical “Turando” is a premiere, tickets for the shows on the first three days from April 29 to May 1 will be discounted at 50 percent, the Seoul Musical Theater said. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 399-1114.

By Kim Yoon-mi (