Koreans are not just into pop, they can sing opera too.
This month, Filipinos will get to hear and experience a more classic rendition of Korean performance art as the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP) features Korean opera singers in the upcoming production, Rigoletto.
An opera in four acts by master Guiseppe Verdi, Rigoletto at the CCP features internationally acclaimed and multi-awarded baritone Daesan No in the title role, together with soprano Yun Kyoung Yi and tenor Jae Wook Lee, and musical director Jae Joon Lee as conductor.
At the helm of the production of the classic Italian opera is CCP president Raul Sunico, whose aim is to bring classical music closer to Filipinos.
Sunico launched Rigoletto to members of the press on August 6, which had in attendance Filipino opera artists Ronan Ferrer, Nenen Espina, Thea Perez and Jun Francis Jaranilla who will also lend their voices to the production.
Sunico was all praises for the invited Korean performers especially for Daesan No who was previously given the title “Baritone of the World.” The recognition is very important for as Sunico noted, “Rigoletto is one of the rare operas in which the lead role is a baritone.”
No is a graduate of the Peabody Conservatory of Music and the Academy of Vocal Arts in Philadelphia. He has performed the lead role in Rigoletto with the Lyric Opera of San Antonio.
Meanwhile, Yi won the Grand Prix at the 4th “Gotaeguk Voice Competition” in Busan, as well as Best Prize at the 20th “National Voice Competition” sponsored by the Korea Music Association. Lee, on the other hand, has performed in numerous operas in Italy, Singapore, Ecuador, and South Korea also portraying lead roles in various operas like those of Verdi’s.
The trio previously performed in Manila in CCP’s production of Verdi’s La Traviata in 2013. Just in March, Yi and No were featured artists in the UST Symphony Orchestra concert.
CCP’s top official emphasized the importance of staging classical operas, no matter how small its following and appreciation may be in the country.
“I chose to stage Rigoletto because opera productions in the Philippines are so few and far between,” Sunico said, noting that the last featured opera at the CCP was Verdi’s La Traviata in March 2013.
He is also fully aware that more people prefer to foreign musical productions like Wicked and Phantom of the Opera. “They watch not only because of the music but also the visuals” Sunico continued.
Noting these, he promised that Rigoletto will offer the same kind of production value to entice a larger number of audiences into the CCP.
To do this, the arts and culture official tapped the vision of director Floy Quintos. “The set design is the interpretation of stage director Floy Quintos. Because of time and budget constraints, he advanced the period a little bit,” Sunico explained.
“Floy Quintos always wants to be different but for an opera production, as long as he doesn’t make it blue-jeans [type]and Filipinized [I still approve of it],” he added.
He then promised that the script, lyrics, language and music of Rigoletto will be untouched for Filipinos to experience classical opera in its authentic form.
Rigoletto is a tragic story revolving around the lives of the licentious Duke of Mantua, his hunchback court jester Rigoletto, and Rigoletto’s beautiful daughter Gilda.
The opera’s original title, La Maledizione (The Curse), refers to the curse placed on both the Duke and Rigoletto by a courtier whose daughter had been seduced by the Duke with Rigoletto’s encouragement. The curse befalls Gilda when she falls in love with the Duke and eventually sacrifices her life to save him from assassins hired by her father.
Rigoletto goes on stage on August 22, 7 p.m. and on August 24, 3 p.m. at the CCP Main Theater. For inquiries, contact the CCP Box Office at 832-3704.