Do you know the opera Le Mariage de Figaro? It is the most popular opera of Mozart. There is a girl who is struck with it and walks to the backstage. At there, she was so fascinated by the busy and crowded atmosphere, and finally she decided to one part of backstage. Maybe, the ultimate goal of girls majoring voice is to be a heroin singer on the stage. However, instead of being Lowizina (heroin on opera Le Marige de Figaro), she became a person who deliver the whole story of Figaro. Here is her story.
SMT What is the chance for majoring in vocal music and opera?
SOHN Students majoring in vocal music and pure music have very limited career. The first starting was an arts high school teacher. As teacher, I went on graduate school of culture and arts administration, but arts management, arts administration was more interested. It was good that I was not afford to go graduate school studying but I was able to go. I studied while maintaining a job as the arts high school teacher. Since then, I began to interest in the planning for performing arts. Since undergraduate student, I have been interested in the story behind the stage. It was too funny when I was engaged The Marriage of Figaro by the staff. Since then, I began to pay attention to the behind story of the stage. It is too common that if you have a degree in vocal music, you only think that you will be a vocal singer. Many people come to the College of Music dreaming of the hero on the stage. But, there were many friends better than me. There should not be main characters on stage. Several factors that involved people to plan, presenter should be investigated. I was fun when I played one of them role. The original director was interested in opera also had a role. Gimhongsun professor (currently hanyejong professor), and opera director, learned to produce the stage. It was very attractive. It was freshly approached because I didn’t know the field of performance planning. In directing the opera was linked to performance planning. The first work of 2012 Korea Opera Festival is The Marriage of Figaro. Accidently, It was The Marriage of Figaro that I was standing again on the stage directly after undergraduate work. I think this work is destined to and inseparable. It is the Marriage of Figaro that leads me to know fun of the behind stage. I was standing on the stage again in 2012 having costumes and makeup! It was very moved to me newly. Only The Marriage of Figaro permitted me on Arts Center!
SMT Currently, you have been studying cultural content in Konkuk university. Are you interested in going after your studies?
SOHN I was worried between performing arts and cultural content. I think performing arts is that I am doing now. Also, because I have wanted to study the new field, I choose major of cultural contents. I was really sorry that there was not related major in SMU. Anyway, after entering graduated school, I learned about basic theory of culture and philosophy of culture. They are so fundamental study of culture and it was the first time to study deeply. I really satisfied with my major for lots of reasons, but the best one is that I can met and communicate with people majoring various study. That’s is so great chance for me.
SMT Opera is considered something so far from ordinary public. Especially for students who cannot afford enough costs for cultural activity. What should opera be? Also, do you think opera should become popular?
SOHN The history of opera starts with Italia four hundred years ago. In Korea, the first start was La Traviata by Kim Jakyung in 1948. Now in the twenty century, opera is regarded as a declining industry all over the world. The demand of opera has also decreased even in Italia, United States and any other European countries. Anyway, among the fields which are related with classing music, opera is the most expensive project. Hundreds of millions should be invested for putting one opera on the stage. It is no exaggeration to say that the quality of opera is decided by how much the investible fund is. Think about general service channels which are very hot potato nowadays. The reason why their dramas are getting harsh criticism is the lack of investible funds from broadcasting station itself. So, opera needs to retain lots of seats for raising funds. However, just a few people who is really interested in opera so called maniac, is the only audience. It is the overall phenomenon in field of classic music. Its energy and popularity seem be burned out even in the home of classic music, Europe. Although these bad state, opera is the ultimate piece of synthetic art. There cannot be such stages which music, acting, dancing and garment are put together at the same time, but opera. Opera is such a cultural heritage so must be preserved. Lots of music forms like musical are originated from opera. That means opera is primary text of all other music stage. Hence, there must be great efforts for preserving original instructing sample, opera. I don’t think opera has a power to propagate itself and makes higher profits. It is advisable to become popular very slowly.
SMT Opera comes from Europe. And almost every popular works are also made by Europeans. What do you think about creating a Korean unique opera?
SOHN That is what I always have considered and exactly the topic on my thesis. First of all, Korea becomes a country having enough power on opera. Shortly, there are most talented peoples on opera in Korea. On International Herald Tribune, it is reported that the core of opera is moving to Korea. That means we have enough talented instruments for promoting opera. Actually, dozens of Korean unique operas are being born every year. The first creation is the Chunhyangjeon in 1950. It received fervent response and such a good spectacle for Korean. However it was a story only for Korean and could not be shared with foreigners. It was an opera by Korean for Korean and in Korea. It could never be worthy. I think for being good opera, it should have power of communication all over the world. For example, Turandot let China know in to the world and Madama Butterfly imprinted Japan’s image into people all around the world. It is ‘cultural discount rate’ ; when this rate is high, people cannot understand the culture easily. Reversely, when this rate is low, people can understand the culture easily. Nanta and Samulnori ha s low cultural discount rate, but opera has especially high rate. That’s because opera has lots of linguistic sources. In spite of these aspects, it is main object to introduce Korean identity by creative and unique opera. The opera need to be equipped with Korean identity and universality. There should be steady efforts to make good Korean opera by musicians as well as government.
SMT What opera has impressed you the most?
SOHN As I mentioned above, Le Nozze di Figaro is what makes me be interested in opera. However, the most one is La Boh me. Until now, I cry hard every time I watch the scene when the leading actress dies by tuberculosis. At that time I saw Le Nozze di Figaro, I was under sorrowful situation because I just got dumped. Maybe I felt a big empathy with her.
SMT You are major in voice in university, now studying culture contents and working for performing arts. You are a musician and artist. Do you have any comments for students who are major in art?
SOHN First of all, I want to say that you do not need to be singer because you are majoring in voice. Shortly, you don’t need to live by your major. There are some artists who do not know other knowledge besides art. I know students studying arts are educated to be totally concentrated on art. I had been educated by that atmosphere. After being member of real society, however, I realized that besides music, there is lots of other knowledge I should know. Regardless of your job, knowledge of humanities, social science and natural science is needed. These studies seem not useful at first, but I am sure it must be great helper for passing through difficulties. Also, I know students of the musical profession have exclusive and personal character more than other major student. So they live and play with themselves in campus of college of music. I really recommend them to socialize with other major students and participate various activities. You should never confine yourself to field of art.
SMT University students today are seeking adviser more actively than ever. They tend to prefer story of who are undergoing fierce living field right now, like you. Please give some advice for Sookmyungians who will be a member of real society in the near future.
SOHN As your saying, I am living fiercely and undergoing Korean society directly. It is more difficult to go into the world as a woman that I have thought. ‘You cannot do that because you are woman’ This so worn out way of thinking exists calmly but clearly. Once, I realized why so many adults said teacher or professor is the best vocation for women. However, the most important thing to stay by myself is being wise. I am a person who admits the difference between men and women. There are kinds of works which is more suitable for men, and on the other hand, there are so optimum works for women. We should recognize our feminine nature, and make wise use of it. I never mean to be feminist who make antagonism toward men extremely, but to be wise women who manage situation very flexibly. That’s the key truth which you should chew over and over.