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KNO to start 50th anniversary celebrations with ‘La Boheme’

The Korea National Opera will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year starting with a reinterpretation of Giacomo Puccini’s masterpiece “La Boheme,” the company said on Tuesday.

The country’s leading opera company will collaborate with the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra led by maestro Chung Myung-hwun to stage one of Puccini’s greatest works on April 3-6 at the Seoul Arts Center’s Opera Theater.

“Maestro Chung and I worked intensively on music reading when we collaborated in Verdi’s ‘Simon Boccanegra’ last year. I hope we can create another masterpiece with Chung and our opera singers this year,” Marco Gandini, director of KNO’s “La Boheme” production, told reporters at a press conference held in Seoul. This is the second collaboration with KNO for the Italian director, famous for his works with Franco Zeffirelli, renowned film and opera director.
A scene from “La Boheme” staged by Korea National Opera at Seoul Arts Center in 2007. (KNO)
A scene from “La Boheme” staged by Korea National Opera at Seoul Arts Center in 2007. (KNO)

The opera company under the state-run Seoul Arts Center will bring the work to Beijing in May as one of events celebrating 20th anniversary of diplomatic ties between Korea and China. The company, with the SPO will stage “La Boheme” at the National Center for the Performing Arts in the Chinese capital. The company said it has plans to perform more works abroad beyond Asia. “The company will make a debut in France in the second half of the year 2013,” said Chun Hye-jin, public affairs officer at KNO.

Based on Henri Murger’s novel “La Vie de Boheme,” the opera in four acts portrays young artists living at the Latin quarters in Paris in mid-19th century. The opera mainly tells the unfortunate love story between young poet Rodolfo and Mimi which ends with Mimi’s tragic death.

Loic Thienot, a stage designer from France, will create the 19th-century set that highlights struggling young artists living in extreme poverty.

“Using a smaller space on stage, I wanted to show penniless lives of artists in Paris. I also wanted to visualize their dreams and hopes by building a stage with up-and-down concept,” Thienot said.

Soprano Kim Young-mi, a Korea National University of Arts professor, takes the title role of Mimi while tenor Kim Dong-won, a leading opera singer in Staatstheater Kassel in Germany plays Rodolfo.

Puccini, one of the most influential opera composers of the 19th and 20th century, created a number of masterpieces, including “Tosca” premiered in 1900, “Madame Butterfly” premiered at La Scala in 1904 and “Turandot” in 1926. “La Boheme” has become one of the most frequently performed operas in the world after it premiered in 1896.

Starting with “La Boheme,” the opera company will stage four more works throughout the year. On June 7-8, it will perform a collection of creative opera works by Korean artists. It will perform Bizet’s “Carmen” on Oct. 18-21 and Strauss’ “Der Fledermaus” or “The Bat” on Nov. 28-Dec. 1. The company will wrap up its season with the 2012 Opera Gala to be staged on Dec. 29-30 at the SAC Opera Theater. Tickets for KNO’s “La Boheme” range from 10,000 won to 150,000 won. For more information, call (02) 586-5284 or (02) 580-1300 for ticket reservation.

By Cho Chung-un (
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Korea Herald daum