Volume 4 / Chapter 141
[TN: An extra long release!]
While Amelia and Danny were waiting for the 1st round of eliminations after passing the preliminary assessment, Jun Hyuk and the orchestra members were meeting the vocals and executive director together for the first time in the Juilliard theater.
The executive director, Professor Roger Neill, approached the members and Jun Hyuk.
“I know you, but I’m sure you don’t know who I am? I’m Art Director, Professor Roger Neill.”
“How are you, Professor? I remember your voice. Aren’t you the person who asked us to perform again during the auditions?”
“Yeah. Didn’t I surprise you? Ha ha.”
“I was a little surprised.”
“I did have good enough reason and you did well. That’s probably why we’re here now.”
The Art Director greeted each member and showed caring.
“Our singers have been practicing with the recorded tape… I have large expectations for the ensemble that will come out with the orchestra today. We need to avoid embarrassment at the least. Ha ha.”
He has a modest tone, but his confident laughter shows confidence.
Jun Hyuk finished the tuning below the stage and waited for the art director’s direction.
“Shall we see the Overture first? Jun, I’ll leave it to you.”
The director walked to the center of the seats to check the sound.
The orchestra completed a 7 minute 12 second overture to Jun Hyuk’s baton.
“I see you’ve practiced a lot. You’re all performing with confidence.”
The orchestra members knew that their choice had been right because of the director’s compliments.
A few days ago after finishing personal practices and they gathered for the first orchestra concert, the bandmaster brought up something unexpected to Jun Hyuk.
“Jun, can’t we practice like we did during the rehearsal for the conductor audition?”
“What? What are you asking to do?”
“I’m just asking you to tell us in a straightforward way. The places we made mistakes, need to fix, et cetera.”
“But if I talk like that, people will be offended.”
“It’s okay. Everyone already agreed. Isn’t that the only way when we have a short time to create a great performance?”
“Good. Well that’s good for me. We can practice easily.”
Jun Hyuk liked their resolve.
“But everyone, don’t forget this one thing.”
Everyone looked nervous in order to listen to Jun Hyuk’s advice.
“We’re just simple accompanists. Singers are the leads on an opera stage. When we start combined performances with singers, I intend to match it to her no matter what as an accompanist. This means that it may not go as we practice and I might keep changing the command… Follow that well.”
A section of the members showed disappointment. They wanted to show every mistake that singers make with a perfect performance. They did not want to get pushed back in a battle of energy between the singers on top of the stage and orchestra below the stage. However, it is true that they are disappointed that conductor Jun Hyuk is saying he will maintain the original image of an accompanist.
“And we’ll practice in the same way. I don’t know when and where I’ll change up the tempo, so please don’t lose focus.”
The practice that began like this became a chance for everyone to confirm Jun Hyuk’s reputation for being picky. The members even nicknamed him the 2nd Fritz Reiner.
Fritz Reiner of Hungary, who led the Chicago Symphony to worldwide fame, is famous as an exact and detailed conductor. It is even said that the finest of sounds comes from the end of his baton.
He is called Chicago’s dictator and has a hard reputation.
The only difference between Jun Hyuk and Fritz Reiner is their looks. Fritz Reiner is famous for his charismatic looks that recall a godfather of some mafia.
After practicing like this for a few days, the orchestra was not perfect but they had the confidence to stand in front of Professor Roger Neill.
“Then shall we get started? Jun.”
“Act 1, Sheet 1, first song Zu Hilfe! Zu Hilfe! Let’s go straight from Bein Mannern, to welche Liebe fuhlen.”
He is telling them to perform 7 songs at 30 minutes consecutively. Before starting to conduct, Jun Hyuk asked Professor Roger Neill something unexpected.
“Professor. When the singers were practicing, which tape did you use?”
“Tape? Ah, Berlin Philharmonic’s Georg Scholte. Why?”
“Since it’ll be better to play something the singers are more used to.”
“Yeah that would be better… Hold on. What did you just say?”
Professor Roger Neill thought that he had not understood exactly what Jun Hyuk was saying.
“We’ll perform to Scholte’s tempo.”
“Is… is it true?”
What is he referring to? This time, Jun Hyuk could not understand Professor Roger Neill’s question.
“So what I’m saying is… I – no, the rumor. That Jun, you memorize everything after hearing it once. Is that true?”
The director forgot the starting signal and stared and Jun Hyuk blankly. This was the same for the singers on the stage.
This did not mean that he memorized all of Magic Flute. They are sure he asked whose album it was. There are a lot of albums of Mozart’s Magic Flute. Most orchestras have released albums with Magic Flute. And this started dozens of years ago.
At the least, there are over 200 albums of Magic Flute. Of those, dozens are famous. How many has Jun Hyuk memorized?
“By chance, have you memorized all of the albums?”
“Of course not. I’m a human being, not a monster. Let’s see… It’ll be about 8 albums. My favorite is the one performed by Georges Pretre at the Paris National Opera Theater…..”
Professor Neill had doubts when he heard the rumors surrounding Jun Hyuk. While serving at various schools including Juilliard, he had seen a lot of geniuses who are able to memorize scores within moments, but this is the first time he is seeing someone who can memorize multiple albums.
Professor Neill came to his senses and forgot what Jun Hyuk said. He cannot just stand here in admiration. He cannot be preoccupied with this talent either. He needs to focus on today’s practice for him to be able to point out any of Jun Hyuk’s mistakes or flaws.
The director approached Jun Hyuk quietly and whispered to him what he wanted.
“Jun, don’t match it to Scholte’s tempo. Do it the way you want to. I want to see your version, not Scholte’s. Of course, don’t tell the singers on stage.”
Professor Neill smiled a little and went back to the center of the seats.
Jun Hyuk’s command started with the first song, ‘Save Me!’ When the 4th aria, ‘Youth, don’t be afraid’ began, Jun Hyuk could not take his eyes off of the stage. Genius soprano Laura Goldberg finally entered the stage as Queen of the Night.
She came on in a loose t-shirt, and started singing at the 24 second point. The advantages to her timbre do not show yet. They need to get past 3 minutes to see her ability.
Jun Hyuk had such high anticipation that the 3 minutes felt like they dragged on.
Finally, her voice became an instrument. Coloratura! It means ‘with color,’ a skillfully decorated melody as a simple aria with a peak of virtuosity, naturally bringing out cheering from the audience.
There was not a single error in the rumors concerning Laura.
‘She’s amazing. Really amazing.’
Even while conducting, the inspiration from Laura Goldberg’s voice did not disappear.
The coloratura as a start is D6 (4 octaves), beginning with pianissimo (very low) and becoming fortissimo (very loud) without crescendo (gradually growing louder).
It looked like she would complete the ultra high frequency range coloratura appearing in the 2nd sheet, the art of aria ‘Hell’s vengeance boils in my heart’ in perfect tone.
When the 7 songs were over, Director Roger Neill ran up onto the stage. He gave Laura Goldberg a thumbs up and brought the tenor in the Tamino role and baritone in the Papageno role to point out a few matters they need to work on.
“Do it with confidence. You’re plenty capable of handling it. Don’t focus too hard on not making mistakes with the German lyrics and try to deliver the message. Keep in mind that if you don’t deliver the emotion, it’s just a sound even if you’ve got the voice of a pavarotti.”
Director Neill came down from the stage and clapped lightly.
“The thing that surprised me most today was your performance. I didn’t know that you would be able to accomplish this much in such a short period of time. Alright, let’s have strength and go to the end.”
The director tapped Jun Hyuk’s shoulder and whispered to him again.
“I’ll say it again, but I want your Magic Flute. Stop matching the performance to those guys singing. That’s something you have to do once you’re in Salzburg. Right now, you have to show your true self. You understand what I’m saying?”
Jun Hyuk smiled and nodded. He understand exactly what the professor was asking of him.
“Now let’s go straight through to Act 1 sheet 2 without resting. Go all the way and rest for a bit. Jun, let’s start.”
Jun Hyuk started conducting again. He conducted in the way he had always wanted to. Papageno, the comic character even though it is just a supporting role. A performance where this Papageno gets the spotlight. Jun Hyuk did not pay attention to the singers on the stage and kept conducting according to his own tempo.
When 3 songs were over, the stage was a mess. The singers could not follow the tempo or maintain the breath requested of them by the orchestra. As they got surprised, they could not act out the emotions and they were even off tone.
Professor Roger Neill stopped practice and ran up onto the stage.
“What are you all doing right now? Does the orchestra need to cover for your mistakes? There is only one thing that the orchestra needs to fit to you. When you are engrossed in your character and reach the peak, and they play at that exact moment to bring out the emotion.”
None of the singers could lift their heads at Professor Neill’s sharp reproach.
“You have to become used to the difference between a recorded tape and live performance. If you waver with this much, your legs will shake and your voice won’t even come out in a theater with a full audience.”
Professor Neill went back down to the seats.
“Again from the beginning of Act 1 sheet 1! And pay attention!”
The first joint practice was not able to finish Act 1. Professor Neill was only pleased with the orchestra in charge of the accompaniment. The music came out in whatever way the director requested.
The director sent the exhausted vocals and orchestra members back, holding only Jun Hyuk back.
“The conducting was really scrupulous. Is it normally like this? Or… is it because you can’t trust the students?”
“It was a request from the members of the orchestra.”
“Really? That’s surprising when those are really proud guys.”
“Because it’s frustrating. Honestly, it was a stretch to create an opera with these people in the first place. Aren’t most skilled students busy with competitions?”
“All performances have one or two aspects that are a stretch. The better you overcome them, the better orchestra and team you are.”
Professor Neill thought that they are plenty capable of overcoming it.
“Jun. I asked to meet separately because of a personal favor.”
“Are you interested in musicals as well?”
“Musicals? They’re good. Aren’t they the contemporary opera?”
Language barrier is a disadvantage to the opera. A story that the contemporary person can relate to. A background without restrictions like Les Miserables from a small stage to a large scale.
The opera moved rapidly toward musicals, and already took up a firm area.
“I’m preparing a musical to present on stage this Christmas season. They’re rookies, but good. I wanted to see if you would take care of the performance. If you can’t, I’d like to use a recording of your performance at the least.”
Jun Hyuk accepted it joyfully. He is always happy to get a taste of a new field. And if it is to the point where the famous Professor Roger Neill is creating and producing a show, this means that it is not configured with amateurs.
“Then let’s talk again after the show in Salzburg. It’ll become a rewarding experience for you as well.”
However, they could not know that Jun Hyuk’s time to experience musicals would be pushed back to a much later time due to an incident that is to occur at the Salzburg performance.