La traviata by Korea National Opera 2016

<La traviata >

Venue:  National Theater of Korea (국립극장)

Performance:  Korea National Opera (국립오페라단)

Director:  Arnaud Bernard (2015)

Director for the revival of Bernard’s La traviata in 2016: Lim, Hyung-Jin


(To have more information-> here)


This performance was originally directed by Arnaud Bernard last year but redirected by Lim, Hyung-Jin. I didn’t watch original version, but his redirection was criticized for damage regarding the character interpretation of Germont. Thus I cannot disentangle the original from redirection, and vice versa.

Setting aside the problem that veritable owner of redirection, I didn’t receive an impression Bernard showed a high level of originality. Simple setting and symbolized stage props reflected the latest opera direction trend, but the direction barely has unexpected insights or fresh perspectives in his idea.

Meanwhile, I suppose that if this style was, Bernard or Korean National Opera had intended for Korean opera audience or opera singers themselves regarding a general viewpoint on this opera. Korean audience and singers tend not to enjoy the novel or unusual version.

Sin-pa: Suggestive melodrama

A prominent feature of this performance was ‘overaction’.
When Germont stroke Alferedo hard, it seemed like part of martial arts film.
Violetta, who had dizziness by her illness, looked like lost her balance owing to the earthquake.

This performance reminded me of Sin-pa(신파, 新派).
The word ‘sin-pa’ literally means the new school.
(When it introduced in Korea
this newfangled kind of drama(suggestive drama) was very sensational.)

This has well-known for overaction or suggestive melodrama
especially through early and mid 20th century in Korea.
But Sin-pa is still prevalent in a form of serial drama on television.

Metamorphosis of Germont

The most distinctive feature of the opera was character interpretation on Germont. Originally he is a representative of a patriarchal society in this opera,
and want his son, Alfredo, and Violetta spilt up.
But he is a benevolent person and music also shows his placid temper.
Though in this performance, Germont in Act 2 was a bully. He throws not only rose leaves but also money on the floor at Violetta. (So this performance shows only Alfredo does not throw money to Violetta in this opera)

Why Lim, Hyung-jin interpreted Germont in this way?

I tried to make two hypotheses.

1. This opera direction shows Sinpa influenced on this opera.
2. Gender, social strata, or age conflicts in a some society is
directly proportional to a character’s violence in some opera performance.

As I haven’t read articles about the correlation between social conflict and opera direction, I don’t know how I can approach this problem. I am wondering whether this character has steadily interpreted in this way or not, but there seems no way to check opera directions of <La traviata> in Korea. (Moving images are very rare except a few recent performances.)

So I would rather keep this problem to myself, but this performance serves as momentum for me to pay attention to the opera direction.


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