Opera Goes Science Fiction
By Bae Keun-min
Staff Reporter / Korea Times
At a space station somewhere in the universe 200 years in the
future, the hero spacewalks and talks about his journey of love
with three different women he encountered in the past.
It sounds like the plot for a new science fiction film but it
is not. Instead, it is the story of an upcoming opera, "The
Tales of Hoffmann (Les Contes d'Hoffmann)" by Jacques Offenbach,
which the National Opera of Korea will stage later this month.
"As soon as you enter the theater, you will see this opera is
absolutely different from operas you have seen here before. Even
before the opera begins, some of the chorus will be on the stage,
showing some movements as if they were in space," said Lee
Youn-taek, who will direct the show.
The opera has been revised from its original version that tells
a story of German poet Hoffmann in the 19th century and his
ill-fated loves with three women _ Antonia, Giulietta and Olympia.
The setting has been changed to a space station run by aliens
in the 23rd century when the earth becomes deserted through the
destruction of its environment.
Lee, who gained the nickname "culture guerilla" with his innovative
plot twists and creative stage settings in plays, said audiences
will have no time to get bored with constantly changing scenes
and futuristic, dreamy costumes and make-up.
"Opera can be very entertaining. It is drama with music. It
is more fun than musicals. I will make this opera (The Tales
of Hoffmann) distinctive, fun to watch, while accentuating the
dramatic aspect of it," the 53-year-old director said. "Leaving
only the music untouched, everything else will be changed."
Lee said the wire-action scene in which the hero spacewalks
and another with half-naked chorus members will be particularly
memorable. "The male and female chorus will crawl about wearing
costumes that will make them appear topless," the director said.
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