Performing arts taken with Christmas spiritFollowing close on the heels of Seoul’s first snowfall is a festive Christmas line-up of operas, concerts and ballets.
Dec. 18-21, 23-24
Hanjeon Artspool Center presents Puccini’s opera with staging that includes a 40-meter circular stage from a European performance. The staging is designed to take the audience back to “Christmas in Paris” in the 1830s.
The director, Bernard Schmitt, has worked on productions like “Turandot” and “Carmen.” The opera singers Dimitra Theodossiou and Moria Pia Ionat will be starring.
Henry Murger wrote the original, semi-autobiographical tale, which revolved around a group of friends in the Bohemian artistic subculture of France. The friends are poor, and some of the females are courtesans. Their lives become further entangled when one of the characters comes down with tuberculosis, but is in love. Puccini’s version ranks with “Aida” as one of the most beloved operas of all time.
The tenors Fernando de la Mora, Giorgio Merighi and Bae Jae-chul will be performing the role of the Bohemian poet, Rodolfo, while two top sopranos, Dimitra Theodossiou and Maria Pia Ionata, will play the heroine, Mimi.
Italian director Maurizio Arena will lead the Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Tickets are 30,000 won ($25) to 300,000 won.
A Christmas Carol
Dec. 12 to 28 at Seoul Arts Center
(02) 523-0986, www.spac.or.kr
Watch as the miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, learns about the Christmas spirit in this classic tale. Ghosts take Scrooge backward and forward in time to teach him about loving his neighbors.
This production includes songs by the Czech composer Zdenek Bartak and set design by the Czech costume designer Dagmar Brezinova. The tale is based on Charles Dickens’s classic novel. Tickets are 20,000 won to 70,000 won.
Kim Dae-jin’s White Christmas
Dec. 23, 7:30 p.m. at the Concert Hall of the Seoul Arts Center
(02) 780-6400, www.sac.or.kr
Kim Dae-jin, one of Korea’s beloved pianists, will be playing Christmas carols this season.
“He hasn’t done a Christmas concert with us before, and we thought he’d be perfect for the season,” says an event organizer with the Seoul Arts Center.
Guests include violinist Lee Kyung-sun, German cellist Tilman Wick and guitarist Chang Seung-ho. The repertoire includes Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Brahms and Mozart. Tickets are 10,000 won to 40,000 won.
Little Singers of Paris
Dec. 20 to 21 at the Haeorum Theater of the National Theater of Korea
The Little Singers, also known as Les Petits Chanteurs a la Croix de Bois, are a boy’s chorus that was founded in 1907. Their repertoire includes religious music from the different villages of France and folk songs from around the world.
The performance in Korea includes original compositions by the abbot Maillot, once the choirmaster, and Christmas songs such as “Silent Night” and the “Hallelujah” from Handel’s “Messiah.” Veronique Thomassin will lead the 25 singers through the concerts. Tickets are 30,000 won to 70,000 won.
The Nutcracker, Vainonen’s version
Dec. 18 to 30
(02) 581-1377, www.universalballet.co.kr
A Christmas tradition at the Univeral Ballet is to perform “The Nutcracker.” This performance of “The Nutcracker” will bring to life Vainonen’s version, first staged in 1934 in St. Petersburg.
“The Nutcracker” is based on a story by E.T.A. Hoffman. The world premier of the ballet was at the Marynski Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892, a collaboration between Tchaikovsky and legendary choreographer Marius Petipa.
Tickets are 30,000 won to 70,000 won for evening performances, 20,000 won to 50,000 won for matinee performances.
The Nutcracker, Bolshoi’s version
Dec. 20 to 27, Opera Theater at the Seoul Arts Center
(02) 780-6400, www.sac.or.kr, www.kballet.org
The Seoul Arts Center hosts the Korea National Ballet Company’s performance of “The Nutcracker” for the 10th year. The set and costumes are based on the original work of Bolshoi. On the opening and closing nights, Kim Joo-won and Lee Won-chul are starring. Tickets are 20,000 won to 50,000 won.
Dec. 24 to 27 at COEX Convention Center
Two of Korea’s most popular live singers, Lee Sora and Park Hyo-sin, are sharing the stage for a series of holiday concerts.
Lee originally shied away from television, opting instead for live shows where her deep voice could be recognized. Park is also famous for his live shows. The two have a stage rapport that has made their joint concerts popular. Tickets are 55,000 won to 77,000 won.
Sing Along Santa
Dec. 3 to 28 at Seoul Education and Cultural Center in Yangjae-dong
Phoenix Productions, which brought musicals like “Grease” and “Sesame Street” to Korea, has brought another U.S. theater group to stage a tale about Santa Claus. Staging includes songs like “Jingle Bells,” “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” and “Feliz Navidad.” Tickets are 30,000 won to 50,000 won.
by Joe Yong-hee