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[Opinion] Outdoor Operas

Posted April. 30, 2003 22:35,   


Verona, a small northern city of Italy, is known as a place for outdoor operas. An amphitheater at the center of the city hosts an opera show every night for three months in every summer season, drawing more than 500,000 spectators worldwide. The lure is that you can sit inside the great remains of the Roman Empire and watch a world-class opera under the starry night sky. Thanks to the large number of tourists, the small Italian city with a 200,000 population always ranks within the top 5 when it comes to the most affluent cities in the country. Verona is believed to be one of the most successful cases of opera marketing.

Of music lovers `with very sensitive ears,` some are even picky about where they sit inside a theater. They look after the best spot, taking into consideration absorption and reflection of sound. They refuse to accept the common belief that the more expensive a ticket is the better seat you will have. When it comes to outdoor operas, however, it is more about `eyes` than `ears.` Producers tend to focus on taking full advantage of spacious stage so as to cover the relatively poor sound with visual effects. So this kind of operas is bound to be different from classic music concerts in its nature.

`Turandot (by Puccini),` a pompous opera produced by renowned Chinese movie director Jiang Wimou, is set to be staged in Sangam World Cup Stadium in May. There will also be `Ida (Verdi)` staged in Jamshil Olympic Stadium in September. With two great works, Koreans will be able to get familiar with outdoor operas. Both are often made for an outdoor opera, a huge-scale set equipped with flamboyant chores and choreography. It is said that the production teams will invest heavily in performances in Seoul, which means there will be a lot to see. Director Jiang also said at a press interview that he would focus on sound as well as the stage. And many fans are anticipating the show, despite the controversy on high admission fees.

The two outdoor operas are expected to expand horizon for Korean music and art lovers, but still they are only special occasions. In terms of promotion of the culture industry, in particular, it is sorry that people cannot have such occasions often. Whey don`t we have a season of outdoor operas like Verona? Why not build a stage for Korean opera `Chunghyang Story` in Namwon City in Chollabuk-do? It will be like catching two birds with a stone if we lure foreign tourists as well as promote our culture. What we need most for now is to benchmark Verona rather than talking big about becoming a culture or tourism powerhouse. It is not easy to earn money when one ignores its own culture.

Song Moon-hong, Editorial Writer, songmh@donga.com