Opera Don Giovanni by Hanyang University with Seongdong Foundation for Arts and Culture
Collaboration performance of senior singers and Hanyang University Department of Voice students
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The main purpose of holding musical performances is to emotionally inspire and impress the audience. While the audience is pleased by the very fine performance, the performers feel a great sense of pride and accomplishment. To share the beauty of musical performance, students from Hanyang University's Department of Voice and Seongdong Foundation for Arts and Culture cooperated and held a concert for local residents from March 21st to 23rd, 2019, at Seongdong Sowol Art Hall. Their choice of opera was Mozart’s Don Giovanni. The event had a special meaning for the voice department, since this was their first opera performance after putting on several musical performances.
One of Mozart's most famous opera's, Don Giovanni is a well-known piece of art in terms of satire and comedy. The very first concert for this piece was held in Prague, 1787, collaborating with the scriptwriter, Lorenzo da Ponte. It is an extremely exceptional case that capitalizes the scriptwriter’s outlandish work and effort for an opera instead of the composer's. Such a great piece of music, this performance was directed under director Lee Kang-ho, who acquired the opportunity thanks to the request from the dean of the Department of Voice Park Jeong-won. Lee recalled, “Usually, an opera performance lasts for approximately three and a half hours. I had a hard time reducing the time, but I still wanted to specifically deliver emotions and contents of the overall play. So, I thought directly explaining the situation through the characters would be effective. When I shared this idea with the dean, she also suggested inviting the senior singers as well and I agreed.” Lee expressed the characters’ emotions through their monologues, which resulted in the spread of emotions to the audience.
The senior signers who participated in this opera played a huge role. With accumulated experience and knowledge of music, they were able to give helpful assistance to both the director and actors. As opera is comparatively unfamiliar to the general public, including narration within acting significantly increased the understanding of the overall play. One of the senior singers said, “I have always wanted to popularize classic music in my own way, and I believe this opportunity was an absolutely meaningful incentive for my hope. I am proud of myself as an alumna of Hanyang University and of the lovely fellow students that could spread the beauty of music.” She believes that this performance will promote their reputation and feels a great sense of pride that she could represent Hanyang University's College of Music.
A phonetics therapist Kim Chul-joon (Department of Voice, '02), the actor who played Leporello, had another pivotal role in the play. As he was acting as Leporello, this character was the major medium through which the audience could understand past events and empathize with the same emotions the characters felt. With him as the medium that connected the audience and increased their overall immersion in the play, their understanding of the whole performance was successfully enhanced. Kim recalled, “As I am also an alumnus of Hanyang University, I had a pleasurable time working with the students. I could see the old me through them which aroused complicated feelings within me.” In terms of collaboration with Seongdong Foundation of Arts and Culture, Kim had applied for the Senior Artists Supporting Service and was luckily selected. Since the contract required two-thirds of the seniors to participate in the general production, he was enrolled in the play as a senior actor.
Students who played the characters in their youth were double-casted for each character in order for them to feel less burden and embarrassment, as most of the participating students had not experienced an opera performance before. As a junior vocal expert, Cha Geun-young (Department of Voice, Master’s Program) wanted to broaden her adventure related to her field. “It is a rare chance that the university offers students the chance to to act in an opera. I sincerely hoped to perform for this piece. Because of my genuine desire, I was able to break through the competition rate of 10:1,” said Cha.
Lee Eun-hyuk (Department of Voice, '19), on the other hand, was the only student that was single-casted as his part was bass which not many people applied for. Lee felt a great responsibility and burden as he had to perform for both teams. Nonetheless, Lee believes that he successfully finished the performances. “Great thanks to Hanyang University for such a precious chance. I made numerous mistakes such as stumbling, forgetting the lyrics, and pitching the wrong note, but I think I managed to make those mistakes look natural. I learned a lot of lessons from my failures. As bass being an unfamiliar and a valuable part, I was proud of myself during the whole event.” Lee will soon leave for Germany to further improve his vocal capability and hopes to spread the attractive aspects of bass.
Some of the students were extremely busy carrying out both studying, working, and practicing at the same time. However, they could forget about the stress when practicing the songs with other actors. As opposed to other universities which only hold operas once every two years, Hanyang University holds an opera once a semester which serves as a priceless experience and chance for the students in the musical field. All in all, the passion that students have towards opera and the collaboration with senior singers worked in good synergy, creating a harmonious and successful performance.
Kim Min-jae firstname.lastname@example.org
Photos by Lee Hyeon-seon
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