Volume 7 / Chapter 246
Giuseppe Ungaretti was living in a small house on the lakeside in Lucca, Puccini’s hometown.
“This is great. It feels like inspiration for poems will come out of here automatically.”
Jun Hyuk was in awe of the scenery.
A huge lake and reed field, a river leading to the ocean, and an island. Everything beautiful in nature is gathered in one place.
“Is he someone who secluded himself here and doesn’t come out?”
“Pretty much. He only meets with the publishing staff.”
He had imagined a hermit, but the poet waiting for him at the house was a smartly clad handsome man. Tara even blushed as she shook his hand.
His behavior was typically intrinsic and shy. He barely spoke and even his movements were quiet.
Even while Jun Hyuk discussed the form of the opera he is thinking of, he did not speak and only listened. Jun Hyuk thought that it was a relief that he is not a chatty Italian.
All they did for the day was watch the movie Godfather. Jun Hyuk picked out the scenes he would use for the opera, and Ungaretti expressed the dialogue again poetically.
Jun Hyuk could feel the difference between poems and music. Though he is a genius poet, he is unable to compress the movie dialogue like music on the spot.
After about 10 days, the introverted poet created dialogue for 5 scenes.
Tara did not spare on her admiration as she read Ungaretti’s dialogue.
“Jun, this person really is a genius. How could he change a movie script like this? It’s really great.”
Jun Hyuk could not feel the difference that the details give because of a language barrier, but he was satisfied with the rhythm delivered through the sound.
“Tara. For dinner tonight, let’s go to a famous restaurant around here that has the most people.”
“Why? It’ll get noisy if someone recognizes you. Didn’t you not like places with a lot of people?”
“A place with more people is better for tonight.”
They went into a cafe full of a positive aura characteristic of Italy. They did not recognize Jun Hyuk, who entered quietly.
Jun Hyuk ate a few slices of pizza and walked over to an upright piano sitting in the cafe. No one paid attention to Jun Hyuk because they were focused on their food and conversations.
Quiet spread through the cafe when the piano melody changed to the aria ‘On love’s rose-colored wings’ from Verdi’s opera ‘Il trovatore’.
At first, the calm piano melody could not be heard because of the noise in the cafe. Once the people closest to the piano started to quiet down to focus on the piano melody, the cafe soon became filled with the sound of Jun Hyuk playing the piano.
There was the occasional murmur of people wondering who the pianist is, as they could only see his back.
When the song was over after about 4 minutes, there was clapping but the piano melody did not stop and continued to flow on. He continued with the most popular aria from Verdi and Puccini, and the chefs working in the kitchen came out to listen.
After playing 4 arias consecutively, Jun Hyuk got up from the piano and turned to bow to the cafe customers. There was an urgent cry from somewhere.
Jun Hyuk responded to the yelling customers with a bright smile and waved Tara over. Tara was also smiling when she approached Jun Hyuk.
“Si si. You’re right. This is Jun.”
The cafe became full of the sound of cheering and clapping. The documentary cameraman stood on a chair to film the cafe.
He had not been expecting such a surprise show. He had just followed along to capture an insert cut of Jun Hyuk eating, but he had hit jackpot.
“I gave you a present in order to ask for a small favor. Did I interfere with your meals?”
Everyone shook their heads and shouted ‘No’. Tara bowed again, looked around the cafe, and gestured to an elderly gentleman. She whispered into his ear and the man’s eyes grew wide as he laughed.
The white-haired elderly gentleman cleared his throat and slowly read through the script that Tara gave him. He was unable to hide his trembling hand and voice while on the first page, but he started following a poetic rhythm at some point as though he was an actor, adding emotion and becoming enwrapped in the script.
Each passage is a lyric. A lyric is a verse and that in itself must be beautiful.
Jun Hyuk examined the expressions of the people in the cafe. How will Italian people react? They need to experience the beauty of the verses and their expressions need to change accordingly in order for Ungaretti’s work to be a success.
When the old man was done reciting, he could tell that there was no exaggeration regarding Ungaretti’s talent and fame. The people’s clapping, whistling, and cheering shook him of his last worries.
“I’m sure you already realized, but this beautiful verse is a lyric from the opera Godfather. You have been the first to hear a part of it.”
This kind of accidental luck brings people happiness. They cheered again because they had become protagonists of an unexpected situation.
“Then please enjoy Maestro Jun’s last gift. We trust that you all will keep this a small secret between us. Jun will need to leave if the press finds out and it becomes noisy.”
After Tara spoke, Jun Hyuk started playing the piano. As this is Puccini’s hometown, he played ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ for the end.
No one having lunch at the small cafe in Italy thought that they would become the chorus for Puccini’s song.
“What do you think? Isn’t that a great reaction?”
“You’re right. Italian people don’t hide their feelings. We wouldn’t have been able to see such expressions if they hadn’t liked it.”
Jun Hyuk and Tara could fully trust Ungaretti’s abilities. The cameraman could not hide his light excitement either.
“Maestro. I got vivid close-ups of the people’s reactions. You can take a look at it when we’re back at the hotel.”
Jun Hyuk did not know that the filming he had found so bothersome would come in so handy. The cameraman was thinking that he was lucky not to have missed filming Jun Hyuk playing the piano.
Jun Hyuk carefully chose the scenes to put in the opera over 2 months, and left Lucca. Ungaretti promised that he would complete his work on the script in the remaining 5 months, and he is someone who takes responsibility for what he says.
Jun Hyuk visited small cities in Italy with Tara, and watched all of the operas showing in each city. They were shows without huge vocal stars or famous orchestras, but he tried hard to find the true essence of Italian operas in them.
Operas that do not rely on the vocals’ ability to sing or the orchestras’ ability to perform, but touch on emotions. He did not even turn down a show at a small bar to look for the common factor in those emotions.
Once Jun Hyuk got used to the camera lens and stopped paying mind to the filming as the cameraman told him to do, he went back to New York. And summer was already starting in New York.
The peak summer season in which Hollywood blockbusters come out one after the other is a time for movie producers to rest. They cannot rest comfortably because they are conscious of box office performance, but they do not have to work.
When President Stern and Jun Hyuk arrived in Hollywood to meet with several directors before choosing the one to join the project, many directors who were spending their time in a leisurely manner showed interest.
They needed to be especially careful when selecting the art director and sound director.
There was no recording technology in the time of Verdi and Wagner, so they could not use sound effects, but it is different now. They are already utilized in musicals and they bring up the level of completion in plays.
Jun Hyuk intended not to spare on using modern technology for special effects, and it was the same for sound. They cannot leave out the sound of bullets in an opera in which the foundation is the mafia world.
Hollywood’s powermen including Martin Scorsese introduced him to people with incredible ability, and Jun Hyuk started meeting with them.
He checked their filmographies and after having thorough discussions about their imaginations and thoughts, he ended up only meeting with 2 people in a day.
“Isaac. I finally realize how tiring it is to meet with people.”
“That’s the work of a chief director. You have to meet people and choose a good person. Are you already missing the time when you only focused on composition?”
“It’s not that, but there’s no change in the fact that it’s tiring and exhausting work.”
“Then shall I tell you something that’ll give you strength?”
President Stern was looking at his laptop, and went to sit next to Jun Hyuk who was spread out on the sofa in the hotel room.
“You want to take a look at this?”
There were numbers all over the screen that President Stern showed him.
“Jun, it’s ‘A, I, U, E, O’ that was released last summer.”
“I’m surprised too since this is the first time something like this has happened, but…..