Opera vir­tu­osos com­pete in au­tumn

Verdi’s Rigo­letto and Wag­ner’s Tannhauser coming this month

The Korea Times - - CULTURE - By Yun Suh-young ysy@ktimes.com

Op­eras by Verdi and Wag­ner, who were born in the same year, will be staged at the same time in late Oc­to­ber.

The Korea Na­tional Opera (KNO) will per­form Verdi’s “Rigo­letto” at the Seoul Arts Cen­ter from Oct. 19 through 22. This is the first new pro­duc­tion the KNO has pro­duced since 1997.

Rigo­letto is con­sid­ered one of Verdi’s master­pieces. The story is a tragedy where a curse is cast by a courtier on the li­cen­tious Duke of Man­tua and his hunch-backed court jester Rigo­letto af­ter the Duke se­duces his daugh­ter with the en­cour­age­ment of Rigo­letto. It stems from Rigo­letto’s over­pro­tec­tion of his beau­ti­ful daugh­ter Gilda. Yet the curse comes on Gilda when she falls in love with the Duke and sac­ri­fices her life to save him from as­sas­sins hired by her fa­ther.

“The mu­sic was con­sid­ered very ad­vanced at the time. Verdi made it pos­si­ble to bring out the char­ac­ters through quar­tets. It’s al­most as if he cre­ated the opera for each of the voices. The char­ac­ter­is­tics of each char­ac­ter are that much distinct. The for­mat of this opera is op­po­site from his pre­vi­ous pieces,” said French con­duc­tor Alain Guin­gal, dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Tues­day.

“Each aria has a dark vo­cal tone so it’s dif­fi­cult to per­form. I’m very pleased with the singers for our pro­duc­tion. They’re well trained.”

Di­rec­tor Alessan­dro Talevi from South Africa, said, “I agree with the mae­stro that this opera has a dark color to it. It has a dark, sin­is­ter qual­ity. As a re­sult, it was nec­es­sary to use a start­ing point — cre­at­ing a world where you feel the dan­ger and vi­o­lence lurk­ing un­der the sur­face. It’s a dark world where peo­ple are in con­stant power strug­gles with each other and women in par­tic­u­lar find them­selves in vul­ner­a­ble sit­u­a­tions,” he said.

Talevi rein­ter­preted the 19th cen­tury opera in a mod­ern con­text. The set­ting is in a night­club and the Duke is the owner of the night­club while Rigo­letto is a co­me­dian per­form­ing there.

“The theme is uni­ver­sal, par­tic­u­larly in the world of gang­sters and mod­ern crime. I wanted to make two points. First, that ev­ery­one is able to live in a hyp­o­crit­i­cal way. Rigo­let­to­lives a life of hypocrisy un­til the mo­ment that it ac­tu­ally hits him in which point he de­cides to call for vengeance. The other im­por­tant theme is the tragedy of this piece — an un­healthy re­la­tion­ship be­tween fa­ther and daugh­ter. He over­pro­tects her be­cause he’s sur­rounded by the dan­ger that she might be ab­ducted. In this way, he dam­ages her be­cause she’s un­able to grow and be­come an adult. He tries to keep her in a child­like state. He loves her so much that it dam­ages her in the end and leads to the ul­ti­mate tragedy.”

In the role of Gilda, the daugh­ter of Rigo­letto, Korean so­prano Kath­leen Kim and Ital­ian so­prano Jes­sica Nuc­cio are dou­ble cast.

“Rigo­letto” will also be per­formed in Daegu as part of the 15th Daegu Opera Fes­ti­val as the open­ing piece on Oct. 12. The Daegu Opera House has lo­cally pro­duced the op­er­atic piece and it will run from Oct. 12 through 14.

Mean­while, the Seong­nam Art Cen­ter will be stag­ing Wag­ner’s “Tannhauser” from Oct. 26 through 29 at its opera house. This is the first time since 1979 that this opera has been per­formed as a lo­cal pro­duc­tion.

“Tannhauser” is con­sid­ered a com­plex opera for novices. Wag­ner’s pieces are usu­ally ex­tremely long with com­pli­cated plots based on Mid­dle Ages myths with a mix of re­li­gious el­e­ments, in­clud­ing sal­va­tion and re­demp­tion.

The plot in­volves Tannhauser, a leg­endary me­dieval Ger­man knight and poet, who strug­gles be­tween sacred and pro­fane love, and seeks re­demp­tion through it.

Re­demp­tion is a theme run­ning through much of Wag­ner’s work.

In the role of Tannhauser, Amer­i­can tenor Robert Dean Smith and Korean tenor Kim Seok-chul are dou­ble cast. Ger­man con­duc­tor Michael Boder and Korean di­rec­tor Park Sang-yun will be lead­ing the pro­duc­tion.

Poster for “Rigo­letto”

Poster for “Tannhauser”

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