Understated ‘Aida’ puts story ahead of pageantry

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Understated ‘Aida’ puts story ahead of pageantry


A scene from “Aida.” Provided by the organizer

The National Opera of Korea chose to produce a less glamorous but more dramatic interpretation of Giuseppe Verdi’s classic opera, “Aida,” this time around. Performances will run from March 30 to April 2 at the Seoul Arts Center. The National Opera last performed “Aida” in 2004.
The vibrant soprano Hasmik Papian and the National Opera of Korea’s new face, Kim Se-a, will share the role of the Ethiopian princess Aida, and Tea Demurishvili and Yang Song-mi perform as Amneris. Receiving their love will be Shin Dong-won and Lee Dong-hyeon, who will share the role of Radames.
While previous productions featured spectacular stage sets and techniques, director Dieter Kaegi intends this production of Aida to be appreciated for more than its visual affects. “Aida is often remembered for the up-scale stage set, but the plot itself should receive more attention and credit,” said Mr. Kaegi.
The entangled emotions of love, loyalty, hate and jealousy engage the audience in the four-act opera, and this is where the spotlight should be, the director said. The convincing portrayal and the solid composition of the narrative display the complexity of the conflicting desires of Aida, Radames and Amneris, according to a press release provided by the National Opera.
In accordance with the overall motif of the opera, stage and costume designer Bruno Schwengl has taken a low-key approach to create an appropriate atmosphere on stage. Mr. Schwengl installed a differently colored back drop for each act, and the vivid colors of the screens establish a distinct mood without overwhelming the audience, according to the press release. The toned-down approach provides the space the audience needs to see past the obvious and to sympathize with the story of the Ethiopian princess, according to the release.
Set in ancient Egypt, and created in the 19th century, “Aida” can be an exotic and distant story. This new, more modern version carries a relevance that contemporary society can relate to. The universal and timeless emotions of love and hate, combined with the music of Verdi and a fresh interpretation of the stage atmosphere make “Aida” more accessible to audiences, according to the release.
Four performances are scheduled from March 30 to April 2. Papian, Demurishvili and Shin will be performing on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday at 4 p.m. Kim, Yang and Lee are on for the Saturday staging at 4 p.m., and Monday at 7:30 p.m. The performance will be in Italian with Korean subtitles. Ticket prices range from 10,000 won ($10) to 150,000 won. For reservations, call ticket link at 1588-7890 or visit www.ticket link.com.

By Suh Sun-young Contributing Writer [estyle@joongang.co.kr]
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