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Korean National Opera to premier Korngold's 'Die tote Stadt'

May 22, 2024 - 13:37 By Park Ga-young
Poster of 'Die tote Stadt' by the Korea National Opera (KNO)

The Korean National Opera is set to premier "Die tote Stadt" at the Opera Theater of the Seoul Arts Center from Thursday to Sunday.

Based on Georges Rodenbach's novel "Bruges-la-Morte," the opera was composed by Erich Korngold at the age of 23 and premiered in 1920.

The KNO explained the Korean premiere of "Die tote Stadt" is known for its extreme difficulty, demanding high notes and stamina from singers. The role of Paul requires sustained singing with high B flats and A notes, necessitating strength and endurance.

"Die tote Stadt" tells the story of Paul, who mourns his deceased wife, Marie. Living in the past, Paul keeps her belongings intact and meets Marietta, who resembles Marie. Inviting her home, Marietta, a dancer, performs a seductive dance. Paul's obsession with Marie's spirit leads him to humiliate Marietta and, in a fit of rage, strangle her with Marie's hair. Regaining his senses, Paul decides to leave the city.

Tenor Roberto Sacca (right) and soprano Rachel Nicholls participate in a practice session for the opera "Die tote Stadt" by the Korean National Opera in this undated photo. (KNO)

Despite its eerie story, the opera features beautiful arias, including "Gluck, das mir verblieb" in Act 1 and the baritone aria "Mein Sehnen, mein Wahnen" in Act 2.

A team consisting of tenor Roberto Sacca as Paul and soprano Rachel Nicholls as Marie/Marietta will take the stage Thursday and Saturday. Tenor James Lee and soprano Oh Mi-seon form another team for performances on Friday and Sunday.

The cast also includes baritones Joon-mo Yang and In-sik Choi as Frank/Fritz, mezzo-soprano Eun-kyung Lim as Brigitta, soprano Kyung-jin Lee as Juliette, and tenor Jeong-min Wi as Count Albert.

James Lee (left) and soprano Oh Mi-seon participate in a practice session for the opera "Die tote Stadt" by the Korean National Opera in this undated photo. (KNO)

The production will be led by the German conductor Lothar Koenigs and the Swiss director Julien Chavaz.

Saturday’s performance will be livestreamed via the opera company’s online platform called KNO My Opera as well as on Naver TV, beginning at 3 P.M. Online viewing is available for 20,000 won ($15).

Ticket prices range from 20,000 won to 150,000 won.