The Korea Herald


KNO to depict ‘han’ through opera ‘Nabucco’

By Im Eun-byel

Published : July 28, 2021 - 14:47

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A scene from “Nabucco” gala performance in 2020 (KNO) A scene from “Nabucco” gala performance in 2020 (KNO)

The Korea National Opera will present Verdi’s celebrated opera “Nabucco” at the Haeoreum Grand Theater at the National Theater of Korea from Aug. 12-15.

It will be the first time for the troupe to present the full-act opera in 16 years, since the last production in 2005.

The 1842 opera portrays the Babylonian invasion of Judah and the forced detention of Jews as they are exiled from their homeland by the Babylonian King Nabucco. The best-known number from the opera is the “Chorus of the Hebrew Slaves.”

When Verdi wrote the work, Italy was in a precarious political situation, battling for independence from the Habsburg Austria and the Bourbon France. Relating the story to how Korea struggled for independence under the Japanese occupation, the KNO will present “Nabucco” to celebrate the 76th anniversary of Liberation Day on Aug. 15.

Italian director Stefano Poda, who previously worked with the troupe in 2015 and 2017, will direct the opera.

The KNO plans to showcase a unique production of the beloved opera work with references to Korean culture. Some of the costumes are inspired by the patterns from hanbok, Korea’s traditional costume. The production will also show “han,” an emotion that Koreans share that can be roughly translated as a sentiment of great sorrow or distress, in stage settings.

“The sentiment of han that runs through the history and culture of Korea is similar to the emotions shared by Verdi and the characters in ‘Nabucco,’” Poda said. “This is about reflecting on humanity, portraying how people unite in solidarity under suppression.”

Hong Seok-won, the artistic director of the Gwangju Symphony Orchestra, will take the baton for the opera performance.

Nabucco, the king of Babylon, will be performed by baritones Ko Sung-hyun and Jung Seung-gi. Abigaille will be played by sopranos Moon Soo-jin and Park Hyun-ju. Mezzo-sopranos Yang Song-mi and Choi Seung-hyun will take the role of Fenena.

The performance on Aug. 14 will be livestreamed through the state-run opera company’s online streaming platform KNO My Opera.

By Im Eun-byel (