Rehearsing the Man of Fifty

Yesterday night I attended a rehearsal of the opera “The 50” at the Institute for Traditional Music of Seoul National University (hence the traditional percussion instruments in the background).

2막 1장면

After the party…the first scene of the second act

This was still without costumes, stage design, and orchestra. The singers performed in sweaters and jeans, a keyboard was the only source of music. Still I could get an idea of how the premiere this Friday might turn out, feel the chemistry and the energy between the singers.

젊은 커플

The young couple, for a long time proposed to each other, now reunited?

Of course, hearing professional opera singers up-close is simply a delight, especially as it has been a while since I spent a night at the opera. The piece, which is based on Goethe’s love-square Der Mann von funfzig Jahren (쉰살의 남자), is kind of fragmented and features two parallel plots that sometimes overlap on stage. Therefore timing is important to keep the flow. Especially the members of the choir have to move around and act quite a lot, which was also great to see in action.

마지막 장면

The last scene: The Man of Fifty sits in the background—alone again?

Another thing I found interesting about this opera that also deals with ageing is that the age of the fictive characters and the real age of the singers intermingle in a strange way. For example, the real age gap between the singers who are cast as father and son is barely 15 years. Still, seeing those two side-a-side on stage, they weirdly seemed to fit the roles quite well. This might also be due to the difference in register: The father is performed by a bass, while the son is a tenor.

화려한 무도회

Father and son during the “Fancy Ball” (화려한 무도회)

파티 - 아름다운 이망인

At the same time, the beautiful widow is enjoying all the men’s attention

Anyway, I am looking forward to dress rehearsals this week and then, finally, the performances on Friday and Saturday.

– 16 Feb. 2013 (土)




About Jan Creutzenberg

Jan Creutzenberg, friend of theatre, music, and cinema, comments on his performative experiences in Seoul and elsewhere.
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