The Korea Herald


[Herald Interview] Adriana Tomeu's dream unfolds on the stage of 'Il Tenore'

By Park Ga-young

Published : Feb. 5, 2024 - 16:22

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American actress Adriana Tomeu plays Madam Becker, an American missionary, in the premiere of OD Company's musical American actress Adriana Tomeu plays Madam Becker, an American missionary, in the premiere of OD Company's musical "Il Tenore." (OD Company)

Since Dec. 19, Adriana Tomeu, hailing from the US, has been taking the stage as Madame Becker in the musical “Il Tenore,” or the tenor in English. The musical about a medical student with a passion for classical singing set in 1920s Korea during the Japanese occupation had its world premiere in Seoul.

"Il Tenore" marks Tomeu's return to the professional musical stage after almost a decade -- she had chosen a career in science over the musical theater career she had been pursuing since the age of five.

She had told herself she wasn't good enough and at the same time she had found her new interest in science, which led her to switching her major from performing arts to molecular and cell biology, the 30-year-old actress told The Korea Herald during an interview Thursday before she went back to the stage to perform Madame Becker once again.

She portrays a foreign missionary music teacher, a role for which the production company OD Company debated whether to cast a Korean actor or a foreign actor. They decided to go with the latter and called for an audition in the US -- a decision that brought Tomeu to the stage again.

For Tomeu, as she read the job description and expectations, she found every line a great fit. They were looking for an actress to perform an American missionary, a music teacher with classical training and a willingness to learn Korean.

As recently as last summer, she was a music teacher at a middle school. Having traveled around the world as part of “The Sound of Music” tour when she was 10 years old and having learned Chinese, she was more than willing to learn Korean.

Tomeu said that "Il Tenore" is "some of the most honest, truthful storytelling" she has ever seen, praising its music as being able to stand alone. She described the combination of the two as "the most magical experience you've ever had in your life."

Her experience in the past two months has driven Tomeu to devote herself to learning the Korean language. "The universe is telling me that learning Korean is like the most important thing I can be doing right now," she said, driven by a desire to excel in her role as Madame Becker on stage and beyond.

Upon arriving in Korea, Tomeu was pleasantly surprised to discover a thriving musical theater industry. Reflecting on the abundance of theater, art and cultural events, she said, "I've been so touched by this show and I feel so lucky already that I got to do this. But if an opportunity like this ever comes along again, I just I want to be ready."