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2006: Year of the Musical

Posted December. 28, 2005 03:19,   


The year 2006 will be an abundant year for the performing arts sector.

In particular, large-scale musicals, including “Miss Saigon,” one of the “world’s top four musicals” to be performed in Korea and a French musical, “The Ten Commandments,” and medium and small-scale musicals, including “Rent” are scheduled to be performed.

In the case of classical music, there will be concerts by star musicians, although there will be no bigger events than the first concert in 21 years by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and the first-ever performance of “The Ring of the Nibelungs.”

January is considered “off-season” for performances, but there will be intense competition among three large-scale musicals from the beginning of the New Year. The National Theater of Korea will show the performance of Broadway-licensed musical “The Producers,” while the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts will stage an encore performance of the French musical, “Notre Dame de Paris,” which was popular early this year, starting from January 18. On January 15, performances of the hit musical “Jekyll and Hyde” will open in the Opera House of the Seoul Arts Center, further intensifying the competition. Tickets for “Jekyll and Hyde,” which features actor Cho Seung-Woo, are already sold out. With “Aida” currently being performed at the LG Arts Center as well, it is fair to say that musicals dominate the large, major theaters of Seoul and compete with one another.

Small and medium-scale performances will open in January as well, such as the non-verbal performance, “Stomp,” by the original British team (from January 3 to February 5, Hanjeon Art Center) and the musical, “Rent,” (from January 13 to 26, Olympic Hall in Seoul Olympic Park) starring Mowen Wei, an actress from Hong Kong.

Another attention-drawing musical is the French musical, “Ten Commandments,” scheduled in April. The second French musical performed in Korea, “Ten Commandments” is a large-scale product which requires about 7.5 billion won for a month’s performance. It will be staged at the Olympic Gymnastics Stadium in Jamsil, Seoul, rather than in an ordinary theater, because of its super-sized stage settings.

The first-ever performance of “Miss Saigon” in Korea is attracting the keenest attention. With “Miss Saigon” opening at the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts in June of next year, all of the so-called “top four musicals” will have been performed in the country. Stage settings will come from the U.K. and Korean players will perform. The performing arts community is particularly interested in “who will play ‘Kim,’ the main female character.” The famous helicopter scene of the musical will be shown as a three-dimension image, instead of a real helicopter.

Also, there are many concerts by star players which classical music fans have long waited for.

In April, Russian pianist Evgeny Kissin, who was in the spotlight as a musical prodigy, will have his first recital in the country. Cecilia Bartoli, a world-class mezzo soprano, will have a recital in March. In particular, Maestro Chung Myung-hoon will accompany on piano Bartoli, who is extremely reluctant to have a long-haul overseas concert due to her fear of flying on airplanes.

There are planned performances by Gypsy violinist Sergei Trofanov in February, violinist Gil Sham in May, “Empress of violin” Anne-Sophie Mutter in June and Emmanuel Pahud, the first flutist of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, in November.

Concerts by world-class orchestras are also worth seeing. Chung Myung-hoon will be the conductor of the concerts of the London Symphony Orchestra in March (piano by Yundi Li) and of Sachsische Staatskapelle Dresden. Also, there are many other concerts coming: the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra in March, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in June, the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra in September, the St. Petersburg Symphony and the New York Philharmonic in November.

As the year 2006 marks the 250th anniversary of the birth of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, small and big concerts of Mozart’s works will continue all year long. The Seoul Arts Center will stage the opera, “Don Giovanni (directed by Francesca Zambello),” by inviting the Royal Opera House of the U.K. Vocalists who are actively performing overseas will appear in the opera, including Yeon Kwang-cheol, Na Seung-seo and Park Eun-ju. A Mozart ensemble concert by pianist Stanislav Bunin and Bayern Chamber Orchestra will be held in May.

Sue-Jean Kang sjkang@donga.com raphy@donga.com