“Agony and Ecstasy”: 22 among business mogul and noted collector Franois Pinault’s impressive art collection is brought to Seoul. Exhibits include paintings, sculptures, installation works and photos by four renowned contemporary artists ― Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman and Takashi Murakami. The show offers a rare chance to see Hirst’s formaldehyde solution installations and Murakami’s sculptures of exaggerated sexuality. The exhibition runs through Nov. 19 at SongEun ArtSpace in Cheongdam-dong, Seoul. For more information, call (02) 3448-0100 or visit www.songeunartspace.org
“Bad News” by Damien Hirst (Damien Hirst and Science Ltd.)
“4th Gwangju Design Biennale”: The nation’s biggest design biennale is currently underway at the Biennale Exhibition Hall and throughout the Gwangju Metropolitan City with new and unexpected exhibits that proved its growth in quality since the previous season. Largely divided into four sections ― “Named,” “Unnamed,” “Communities” and “Gwangju Folly” ― 141 mind-refreshing projects by 135 designers and 73 design firms from 44 countries each offered their own definitions of design. The biennale will run through Oct. 23 at the Biennale Exhibition Hall and throughout Gwangju Metropolitan City. For more information, visit www.gb.or.kr.
“The Placeholders”: Hakgojae Gallery presents 16 paintings by German artist Tim Eitel. Eitel is one of the leading artists of the New Leipzig School. By taking photos and mixing the captured images on the canvas through painting, the artist expresses the sentiments, often depressed feelings, of his contemporaries. The exhibition runs through Oct. 23 at Hakgojae Gallery in Sogyeok-dong, central Seoul. For more information, call (02) 739-4937 or visit www.hakgojae.com.
“Yiso Bahc ― Lines of Flight”: Artsonje Center holds a retrospective exhibition on Bahc Yiso’s drawings. Known as a conceptual and installation artist, Bahc ceaselessly recorded his ideas and views with notes and drawings. The exhibition provides an insight into the South Korean artist’s works by presenting 230 drawings and early paintings that resemble drawings. The exhibition runs through Oct. 23 at Artsonje Center in Hwa-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 1,500 won to 3,000 won. For more information, call (02) 733-8945 or visit www.artsonje.org.
“French Art Today: Marcel Duchamp Prize”: Latest trends in the French contemporary art world can be spotted at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Gwacheon, Gyeonggi Province. About 100 artworks by 16 artists who either won or were nominated for the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize, like Philippe Ramette, Camille Henrot and Michel Blazy are on display. The exhibition runs through Oct. 16. Admission is 5,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2188-6114 or visit www.moca.go.kr.
“Mamma Mia!”: The global smash hit musical “Mamma Mia” is back as a Korean production. Based on songs of ABBA, including “Dancing Queen,” “Money, Money, Money,” and “Thank You for the Music,” the musical offers a hilarious tale of a young bride-to-be’s search for her unknown father. The show premiered in Korea in 2004, and was last performed here in 2009 at the National Theater of Korea. The current show stars musical actress Choi Jung-won as Donna, the single mother whose daughter is about to get married. Pop singer Lee Hyun-woo, who had his musical debut with “Singles” back in 2007, appears as Harry, one of the three potential fathers of Sophie, Donna’s only daughter. The show runs until Feb. 26 at D-Cube Arts Center in western Seoul, located near exit 1 of Sindorim subway station. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 110,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2211-3000.
A scene from the musical “Mamma Mia!” (Seensee Company)
“Mahoroba”: Young theater company “DreamPlay” is bringing Japanese playwright Horai Ryuta’ s theatrical account of women of different ages and their shared experiences. The play begins as Midori, a single working woman who lives alone in Tokyo while refusing to get married, visits her family in the countryside after breaking up with her boyfriend. She gets into an argument with her mother, Hiroko, as she is repeatedly asked about the reason behind the breakup. Then the play gets other women in the town involved, from an old lady in her 60s to a teenager. Each character offers their thoughts on being a woman, as well as many challenges and choices they face. The show runs till Sept. 25 at Theater Yeonwoo in Daehangno district in Northern Seoul. Tickets range from 25,000 won. For more information, call (02) 745-4566.
“Wedding”: Based on playwright Lee Gang-baek’s 1974 play of the same title, its musical adaptation celebrates the re-opening of the Samilro Warehouse Theater in Myeong-dong in central Seoul, which closed in February due to financial problems. Known as the very first independent theater venue in Seoul, the property has been the home to small-scale, independent theatrical activities by many performing artists and directors. After going through a renovation process supported by Taekwang Industrial, the venue had its official re-opening ceremony on Aug. 10. Its first musical after the reopening delves into the theme of marriage and life through the perspective of its young modern characters. The show runs till Sept. 24. Tickets range from 20,000 won to 40,000 won. For more information, call (02) 319-8021.
“Falling for Eve”: Actor Bong Tae-gyu, who has been playing mostly comic roles in his previous movies and TV shows, will star as the biblical character Adam in American playwright Joe DiPietro’s new musical “Falling for Eve.” A Rutgers University graduate, DiPietro has written many long running-off Broadway shows, including “Nice Work If You Get It” (2010), “The Toxic Avenger (2008), and “All Shook Up” (2005). He won Tony awards for the score and lyrics he wrote for musical “Memphis.” “Falling for Eve” is another version of the love story that appears in the first book of the bible. DiPietro’s Adam refuses to take the forbidden fruit from Eve, and tries to find his own paradise along with his wife. The musical runs until Sept. 11 at the M Theater of the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from 30,000 to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 399-1114.
“Seoul Arts Center Young Artists Opera Festival”: theater students from three universities ― Chugye University for the Arts, Dankook University, and Kyunghee University ― are to perform three well-known operas for this year’s “Seoul Arts Center Young Artists Opera Festival.” While students from Chugye will perform Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848)’s 1382 work “L’Elisir d’Amore” (The Elixir of Love), Dankook University students will showcase Johann Strauss II’s (1825-1899) operetta “Die Fledermaus” (The Bat) on stage. Students of Kyunghee University will perform “The Tales of Hoffmann” by Jacques Offenbach (1819-1880), a Prussian-born French cellist and composer. The festival runs from Aug. 22 to Sept. 9 at Seoul Arts Center in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300 or visit http://www.sac.or.kr
“St. Petersburg Philharmonic”: The St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, led by artistic director and conductor Yuri Temirkanov, will come to Seoul again to showcase romantic and powerful European classical music for two days. Violinist Sara Chang will collaborate with the orchestra. Tmirkanov’s seasoned skills and precise interpretation of music will create synergy with Chang’s stormy passion and energy. The concerts will take place at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Nov. 8-9. The Nov. 8 program includes Liadov Kikimora Op. 63, Sibelius Violin Concerto in d minor Op. 47 and Rachmaninov Symphony No. 2 in e mino Op. 27. The next day, the first half is the same, followed by Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5 in e minor Op. 64.
Conductor Yuri Temirkanov of the St.Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra (Mast Media)
“Russell Sherman Piano Recital”: American pianist and educator Russell Sherman is to hold a recital at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall on Sept. 27 at 8 p.m. Having performed at internationally-famous concert halls including Carnergie Hall, Russell is also known for playing with prestigious orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic. The Seoul’s recital program includes Schumann’s Arabeske in C major, op. 18 and Liszt’s Sonetto 104 del petrarca. Tickets range from 40,000 won to 90,000 won. For more information, call (02) 580-1300.
“Il Gardellino”: Renowned Belgian Baroque ensemble Il Gardellino will hold its first concert in Korea. The concert will take place at the LG Arts Center on Oct. 2 at 7 p.m. The harmony of nine members, led by oboist Marcel Ponseel, will stage 18th-century European classical music. The program includes Alessandro Marcello Oboe Concerto in d minor, Bach Cantata BWV158 “Der friede sei mit dir,” Johann Gottlieb Janitsch Quartet in g minor for oboe, violin, viola and basso continuo, Antonio Vivaldi Sinfonia “Al Santo Sepolchro” for strings, RV169 and Bach Cantata BWV 82 “Ich Habe Genug.” Tickets range from 30,000 won to 70,000 won. For more information, call (02) 2005-0114.
“Hyundai Capital Invitational Jo Su-mi Park Concert”: Hyundai Capital is to hold an Invitational Jo Su-mi Park Concert on Sept. 24 at 7 p.m. at an outdoor stage of the Olympic Park’s 88 Jandi Madang. Since 2007, the financial company has been holding its Invitational performance series. Last year, BBC Symphony Orchestra was invited. Soprano Jo’s concert program will be a variety of opera arias under the theme, “songs of gypsy and bohemians.” The arias include “Gypsy Carmen” in Bizet opera “Carmen,” “I Hear the Sound of Cymbals” in Lehar operetta “Gypsy Love” and “Oh Lovely Maiden” in Puccini’s “La Boheme.” Conductor Steven Mercurio, tenor Joseph Calleja, violist Richard Yongjae O’Neill and the Korea Symphony Orchestra will collaborate. Tickets range from 10,000 won to 50,000 won. Children under 5 will not be admitted. For tickets, visit privia.hyundaicard.com, www.clubbalcony.com or www.interpark.com.
“Folk Song Concert”: Local folk singers including Ahn Chi-hwan will hold two concerts on Sept.12-13, celebrating Chuseok, the nation’s largest holiday, at the newly-opened D-cube Arts Center in Seoul. On the first day, singers Ahn, Sorisae and Lee Jae-seong will be on the stage. On the next day, folk group Dongmulwon, singer Chu Ga-yeol and Yang Ha-young will take the baton. The new arts center is located on the seventh floor of multicultural building D-cube City near Sindorim Station on Subway Line No. 2. For details, visit www.d3art.co.kr.
Singer Ahn Chi-hwan (D-cube Arts Center)
“Yuhki Kuramoto Autumn Story: In a Beautiful Season”: The Japanese pianist will hold a series of concerts across the nation through December. In Seoul, he will play on Sept. 17 and 18 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Concert Hall, playing romantic melodies for the autumn season. The program will include some of the songs newly released in his album including “Shape of Love,” Second Romance” and “Promenade.” The tour will continue in Gwangju, Hwaseong, Uijeongbu, Jeonju, Goyang, Daejeon, Ulsan and Incheon. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 100,000 won. For more information, call (02) 1577-5266.
“Why We Fail”: Singer-songwriter Lee Sung-yol will hold a month of concerts to mark the release of his third album “Why We Fail.” His latest album was released after a four year hiatus, and it is the first time that he has held a month of concerts, his agency said. The stage will be in the center so that the audience can see him from all directions. The concert will take place through Sept. 24 at Sogang University’s Mary Hall. Ticket is 55,000 won. For more information, call (02) 511-0380.
“Lee Seung-hwan, The Regrets”: Pop and rock singer-songwriter Lee Seung-hwan will hold solo concert “The Regrets” on Sept. 18 at Olympic Park’s Subyeon outdoor stage. The 46-year-old has released more than 10 different studio albums and extended plays since his debut in 1996. in He will be collaborating with a project at the concert. The show will be presented in an autumn atmosphere setting, with a main focus on acoustic sounds. Tickets, priced at 99,000 won, are available at www.interpark.com. For details, call (02) 563-0565.
“The 14th Seoul International Dance Festival”: Hosted by Seoul Section of the International Dance Council CID-UNESCO, this year’s SIDANCE offers 51 dance performances of various genres by 52 dance companies from 17 different countries. The event will run from Sept. 29 to Oct. 16 at Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul, Hoam Art Hall and Sogang University Mary Hall in central Seoul and other places throughout the city. Tickets range from ... For more information, call (02) 3216-1185 or visit www.sidance.org.
“Romeo and Juliet”: Korea National Ballet presents the classic ballet “Romeo and Juliet.” Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra will play the music composed by Serge Prokofiev and the choreography will be by Jean-Christophe Maillot. Conductor Cheong Myung-whun will take the baton. It will run from Oct. 27 to 30 at Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Tickets range from 5,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 587-6181 or visit www.kballet.org.
A scene from Korea National Ballet’s “Romeo and Juliet.” (KNB)
“New Concept Performing Arts Festival”: Hanguk Performing Arts Center will be staging 12 performances through Oct. 2 at Arko Arts Theater and Daehangno Arts Theater in Hyehwa-dong, central Seoul. Under the slogan “Make the Difference,” the festival aims to showcase experimental and original dances such as “Synchronomous” by Intermedia Performance Lab and “EARTH” by Live EARTH MUSEUM. For more information, call (02) 3668-0008 or visit www.hanpac.or.kr.
“Miso”: Translated as “beautiful smile,” the musical “Miso” offers a compact presentation of everything Korean culture first-timers could wish for. It blends ten different kinds of traditional dances, five traditional games and a wedding ritual into the main storyline based on a well-known folktale, “The Tale of Chunhyang.” There are very few spoken lines throughout the whole performance, making it ideal for audiences of diverse nationalities. “Miso” is showing as an open run at Chongdong Theater in Jeong-dong, central Seoul. Tickets range from 30,000 won to 50,000 won. For more information, call (02) 751-1500 or visit www.koreamiso.com.
“Wonju Hanji Festival”: The Wonju Hanji Festival will be held from Sept. 28 to Oct. 2 in Wonju, Gangwon Province, which has a rich history of producing hanji -- Korean traditional mulberry paper. This year, the festival opens the Hanji Theme Park for the first time. The festival will hold a special opening event, the Hanji Fashion Show. The Hanji Theme Park also boasts a colorful array of lanterns made of hanji. More than 100 exciting events, programs and performances such as a hanji puppet show, a Korean traditional shuttlecock contest and hanji craft. Nearby tourist attractions include Chiaksan National Park, Baeunsan and Sinrim Seonghwangrim Forest. For more information, visit www.wjhanji.co.kr.
A hanji fashion show during Wonju Hanji Festival last year (Wonju Hanji Festival Committee)
“Seoul Drum Festival”: An open festival will be through Sept. 24 at the Seoul Square in central Seoul, for people to enjoy the beat of drums. Festival highlights include opening and closing ceremonies, performances by foreign performance teams, world percussion instrument performances, lectures and seminars. Some performances will be held at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts’ M Theater. The Seoul Drum Festival is coming into its 13th year in 2011 since its inception in 1999. For more information, visit www.seouldrum.go.kr.
“2011 Hyoseok Culture Festival”: The festival will be held through Sept. 18 in Bongpyeong-myeon, Pyeongchang County in Gangwon Province, to commemorate modern Korean writer Yi Hyo-seok and his popular novel “When Buckwheat Flowers Bloom.” The novel depicts the connection between human life and beauty of nature through the beautiful scenery of Bongpyeong, the home town of Yi. The festival includes programs such as poem exhibition, literature night, Hyo-seok essay contest, nature experiences (e.g. fingernail coloring using balsam) and buckwheat food cooking. Visitors can tour Yi’s birthplace and memorial hall. For more information, visit www.hyoseok.com.
“2011 Icheon Ceramic Festival”: Icheon, boasting 1,000 years of history in ceramic arts, will hold the famous “Icheon Ceramic Festival” from Sept. 24 to Oct. 23 at the Seolbong Park in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province. Visitors will see a variety of Korea’s finest ceramics such as cheongja (celadon porcelain), baekja (white porcelain), and Buncheongsagi (grayish-blue powdered celadon). Highlights include the ceramics excavation program, and a workshop in which visitors can draw their own artwork on slightly heated pottery. Hot springs are located nearby as well for good relaxation. For more information, visit www.ceramic.or.kr.