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Three operas, three different charms

‘Salome,’ ‘The Elixir of Love,’ ‘Don Giovanni’ kick off spring season

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Published : 2014-03-09 19:55
Updated : 2014-03-09 20:54

The arrival of spring means the opening of an opera season. Kicking off this spring opera lineup are three classic operas, each with a different color and charm: comedy, tragedy and something in between.

‘Don Giovanni’

The National Opera Company of Korea brings an experimental, small-scale production of Mozart’s classic opera “Don Giovanni” to Seoul Arts Center in southern Seoul.

Taking place at a 1,000-seat CJ Towol Theater at the center, which opens this spring after renovation, the production has an all-Korean crew and singers, except the conductor ― Marco Zambelli from Italy.
A scene from “Don Giovanni” (The National Opera Company of Korea)

The two-act opera, revolving around the salacious adventures of the Spanish nobleman and libertine by the same name, has been staged numerous times before, but the upcoming one is a modern production with a symbol-rich, minimalistic set.

Director Jung Sun-young recreates Giovanni into a free-spirited man living a life true to his inner desires ― an object of jealousy for many who live a life trapped in a myriad of social rules and obligations.

The set is moved from 18th-century Spain to a modern city, featuring cookie-cutter apartment buildings, cemeteries, and in several scenes, a giant apple hung from a crane by a wire. The apple symbolizes one’s inner desire, and the tension on the rope is the constant struggle between desire and social rules and obligations, Jung explains.

The production will be staged for five days beginning March 12. Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 70,000 won. 
A scene from “The Elixir of Love” (Sol'Opera)

‘The Elixir of Love’

Sol’Opera, which specializes in joint productions with Italy, presents Donizetti’s enchanting comedy “L’Elisir d’Amore (The Elixir of Love),” this time with the Rome Opera House.

Written in a hasty six weeks, the two-act opera revolves around a young peasant named Nemorino, who, fooled by a con man named Dr. Dulcamara, drinks a fake love potion to try to win Adina, the landowner and girl of his dreams.

One of the most frequently performed operas in the world, the work contains a well-known tenor aria “Una Furtiva Lagrima (A Furtive Tear).”

“It has fun, love and great arias. All in all, it will be an enjoyable experience for all,” said Lee So-young, president of Sol’Opera.

Running three nights from April 3, the production features Italian director, conductor and singers. Two Korean singers ― Tenor Jung Byong-ho as Nemorino and Soprano Kim Hee-jeoung as Adina ― will star in one of the three performances.

It will be staged at the Opera House of Seoul Arts Center and tickets range from 30,000 won to 200,000 won. 
A scene from “Salome” (Korea Opera Group)

‘Salome’

This May, Korea Opera Group brings provocative opera “Salome” to the Opera House of Seoul Arts Center, nearly 21 years after France’s Bastille Opera staged its production of the work at the opera house’s grand opening.

With music by Richard Strauss and scripts adopted from an eponymous play by Oscar Wilde, the story depicts a peculiar love-hate relationship between King Herod and his step-daughter Salome, a prototypical femme fatale who wants the one thing she can’t have ― the love of the prophet John the Baptist.

What makes the work sensational is the famous 12-minute “Dance of the Seven Veils,” in which Salome dances as she takes off seven layers of clothing in front of King Herod to make him execute John the Baptist. It is also known for a shocking final scene where Salome kisses the severed head of John the Baptist.

Sopranos Katja Beer and Carola Glaser will play Salome, while Korean singers fill the rest of the cast. Director Maurizio Di Mattia has moved the setting to a futuristic city of violence, crime and greed.

An opener for the fifth Korea Opera Festival, the Korea Opera Group’s production of “Salome” runs three nights from May 2, with tickets ranging from 10,000 won to 200,000 won.

By Lee Sun-young (milaya@heraldcorp.com)

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