중앙데일리

Korea’s best performers prefer the European stage

‘My last performance in Korea was 14 years ago at my high school graduation. My stage is the world, not Korea.’

Oct 08,2007
Min In-sun, left, and Moon Jeong-hyeon. By Byun Sun-goo
Min In-sun, 32, has been a member of the Koeln Opera Theater in Germany since 2001. She has relocated to Germany, married a German and has a child.
She performs in three to five operas a year and in 2002 and was selected as the best new singer in the Nordrhein-Westfalen area in 2002. Her goal is to perform on the best stage in Europe.
“My last performance in Korea was 14 years ago at my high school graduation recital,” Min said. “My stage is the world, not Korea.”
These days, Korean opera singers are expanding their boundaries. Traditionally, Korean singers would use their experience in foreign stages as a stepping stone to a better career in Korea, but this has changed. Talented singers like Min have relocated to Europe.
About 400 Korean singers are training to be professional singers in Germany, and the number rises to 3,000 for those in Italy. More Koreans are aiming for the major European stages.
Hochschule fur Musik Koln (Koeln Music School) has a separate audition date for Koreans.
Music critic Yu Hyeong-jong says, “Only the Koreans appearing on major European stages are well-known in Korea, but many play major roles in small and medium-sized shows.”
Yeon Gwang-cheol, 42, a singer at the Berliner Staatsoper (National Opera Theater), is considered to be a Korean opera pioneer in Europe. Recently, he declared himself a freelancer, separating from the theater. Yeon is better known abroad than in Korea. He is one of the “stars” at the Bayreuth, which is thought to be a mecca for classical music enthusiasts.
Vienna and other major theaters have one or more Koreans as stars. Min said, “You can find a Korean in most European theaters. Being a Korean guarantees a certain level of talent.”
Moon Jeong-hyeon, 27, won second place at the Italian Maria Anna Sophie Cecilia Kalogeropoulos Concours last March. Although he was second, there was no first-place winner so it was a victory. Moon also dreams of singing in European opera.
After his training at Hochschule fur Musik und darstellende Kunst Mannheim (Mannheim National School of Music) in Germany, Moon said, “Many Koreans have talented voices but lack acting and expression.” If he can add those aspects, chances are that Moon’s dream will become reality.
Recently the number of operas with lesser-known Korean singers in Korea is growing. A gala concert with Koreans singers in major European opera groups was held in September.
A European Opera Concert at the Seoul Arts Center is also being prepared for this month.
Min In-sun and Moon Jeong-hyeon will be onstage.
Song Jae-young, a manager at Vincero, the company organizing and hosting the October show said, “Instead of inviting foreign bands and singers, the trend is changing. Now we invite talented Koreans working abroad.”


By Kim Ho-jung JoongAng Ilbo



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