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Korea National Opera to perform Korean premiere of Britten's 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'

By Park Ga-young

Published : March 12, 2024 - 16:19

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The creative team and cast of the Korea National Opera's The creative team and cast of the Korea National Opera's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" participate in a production meeting at the Seoul Arts Center on Monday. (Yonhap)

The Korea National Opera will bring Benjamin Britten's opera "A Midsummer Night's Dream" to the stage next month, marking the Korean premiere of the production.

In a production meeting held Monday at the Seoul Arts Center, the KNO introduced the work, the production team and the cast of the opera with a libretto adapted from William Shakespeare's play. Britten's opera premiered in 1960 at the Aldeburgh Festival in England.

The story revolves around the adventures of four young lovers, a group of amateur actors, and a troupe of fairies including Oberon, Titania and Puck, who inhabit a magical forest outside Athens, Greece. Puck, Oberon's mischievous servant, disrupts the night with a love potion.

For the KNO’s production, director Wolfgang Nagele said Oberon and Titania will be portrayed as an old couple and enact some of the small quarrels and moments of love that occur in a long-lived marriage.

Emphasizing that Britten highly valued Shakespeare's text and composed the opera's music in parallel with it, conductor Felix Krieger said, "Rather than focusing on melodies typical of Italian operas, it would be better to pay more attention to the text."

Countertenors James Laing and Jang Jung-kwon will take on the role of Oberon, the fairy king. Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is one of the rare operas that feature countertenors in leading roles.

Kim Dong-wan, an actor and a member of the K-pop boy band Shinhwa, will perform as Puck, a role that will not involve singing.

Choi Sang-ho, the artistic and general director of the KNO, expressed his desire to cast a well-known celebrity for the role of Puck. He mentioned initially considering RM from BTS for the role but ultimately turned to Kim Dong-wan based on strong recommendations after learning that RM is undertaking his mandatory military duties.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" will be performed at the Opera House of the Seoul Arts Center From April 11 to 14. The performance on April 13 will be live-streamed via the KNO's livestreaming platform, myOpera LIVE, and on Naver TV.

Poster for the Korea National Opera's Poster for the Korea National Opera's "A Midsummer Night's Dream" (KNO)