The Korea Herald


Seoul Opera aims to expand reach with outdoor performances

By Park Ga-young

Published : June 4, 2024 - 15:35

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People watch Seoul Metropolitan Opera's outdoor performance of People watch Seoul Metropolitan Opera's outdoor performance of "Carmen" on Sept. 8, 2023. (Sejong Center for the Performing Arts)

Seoul Metropolitan Opera will present “Cavalleria Rusticana,” its second outdoor performance following last year’s successful “Carmen.”

From June 11 to 12, the city opera company will stage the 80-minute opera by Italian composer Pietro Mascagni at Gwanghwamun Square, chosen for its short length and familiar music.

"This will appeal to audiences who are not familiar with opera but (still) want to experience an opera. We hope this encourages people to see an opera in the theater,” Park Hye-jin, the artistic director of Seoul Metropolitan Opera, told reporters during a press conference on Tuesday.

Set in a small village on Sicily, the one-act opera revolves around themes of love, jealousy and revenge, featuring the main characters Turiddu, a young man who has returned from military service; Lola, Turiddu's former lover, now married to Alfio; Santuzza, a young woman in love with Turiddu; Alfio, Lola's husband, who becomes enraged when he discovers her infidelity; and Mamma Lucia, Turiddu's mother, who runs a tavern in the village.

The production features soprano Cho Sun-hyung as Santuzza, tenors Chung Yi-kun and Lee Seung-mook as Turiddu, and baritones Tito You and Park Joung-min as Alfio. Mezzo-sopranos Song Yoon-jin will portray Mamma Lucia and Jung Se-ra will play Lola.

As part of expanding its reach, the performance will feature 123 citizen singers alongside seasoned opera singers. For "Carmen" last year, 79 citizen singers participated in the opera production.

“It’s an opportunity I thought I would only experience in another life. We’re overjoyed to be taking the stage with professional singers,” Kim Hye-soon, head of Korean Air Stewardess Alumni, said. The KASA choir is one of three amateur choirs joining the production.

Eom Sook-jeong, the production director, mentioned that partnering with the three amateur choirs initially raised concerns, but their passion for the production proved those concerns unfounded.

“They worked really hard and memorized the Italian lyrics as promised. It turned out my worries were unnecessary," the director said.

The tickets for the free performances sold out within minutes of ticket opening. However, walk-ins will be allowed for no-show seats, according to the organizer, Sejong Center for the Performing Arts.

The organizer also aims to make the performances zero-waste and environmentally friendly, by avoiding single-use products and reducing carbon emissions. The stage will use recyclable LEDs while audiences who bring reusable containers will be offered a free Americano or ice cream on a first come, first served basis.