Volume 7 / Chapter 248
The art director who Jun Hyuk looked forward to meeting with the most, was Paul Kieve.
He handled the special effects for the ‘Harry Potter’ movie series and showed an overwhelming music in the ‘essence of the science of the stage’ in the musical ‘Ghost’.
The set kept moving, LED lights poured out colorful images, and a few holograms added on even implemented ghosts as though in a movie.
He used various techniques in the mechanisms of modern musicals that caught Jun Hyuk’s eye.
A fixed stage set is a factor that interferes with immersion for people who are already used to the movie Godfather. An opera with a moving and changing stage, and a background screen with video that makes a car chase scene possible. Jun Hyuk is dreaming of a dynamic stage like a movie.
To him, Paul Kieve’s stage effects and techniques are perfect.
Once he chose the stage art and sound directors, and brought on a writer who would make Ungaretti’s lyrics into a complete scenario, all of the people left were those who would take on the most important roles.
These are the lead vocalists and the director who would lead the acting. The triplex dancing, singing, and acting need to be in harmony for it to be an opera and a musical. Jun Hyuk’s opera however, does not have dancing, but the major axes are acting and singing.
President Stern was busy starting vocalist auditions and selecting a director to lead the acting.
Already famous star singers simply expressed their interest in participating instead of auditioning. What they need is to coordinate those stars and casting.
Everyone wanted the role of the hero, Vito Corleone, but Jun Hyuk shook his head.
“Isn’t he too old? Will he be able to take it on when he’s over 70?”
The card that Jun Hyuk held out for the role that needs to take on the whole 2nd act and middle of the 3rd act, or half of the entire opera, would seem irrational to anyone. It is natural that President Stern is worried.
If the opera is a success, it will not end after a few performances. The actors will need to handle doing at least 50. Jun Hyuk’s card, Dario Argento, is not young enough to take on such a rigorous schedule.
Dario Argento, a vocalist from Spain, was born in 1941. There is no need for him to be the same age is the role, but he cannot make the same sound that he made during his heydays.
He made his official debut as a baritone in 1961 and after, he raised his range to tenor and became active.
He is the opera singer who has taken on the most roles in human history and he has almost no language barrier, so though his native language is Spanish, he was also able to take on roles in languages including Italian, French, German, English, and Russian.
Though he is more than 70 years old, he is not thinking of retiring and is still active. The old man is still expanding his repertoire by starring as baritone and in new roles in forgotten works or premieres.
He cannot beat the wall of time though, and rejects main roles on his own and mostly takes on supporting roles.
“Even if we offer it, he’s likely to turn it down. It’s a big burden.”
“I chose him because of his age. I don’t want someone who sings too perfectly with a clean voice. He really needs to seem ill especially in the 3rd part where the old man barely recovers after being shot. We need to show the retired boss’ deterioration, and a young tenor won’t be able to express that.”
It is a given that a great singer wants to fully show his talent on stage. But what Jun Hyuk wants is someone who fits the role perfectly.
“His acting is like that of a movie actor, so there’s no need to change that and since there is ‘spinto’, there’s no better person.”
Spinto is Italian for ‘push’. It refers to the strength and weight of a tenor that can intensely push a high pitch while being sustainable.
“Fine. I’ll arrange a meeting. What are you going to do? Are you going to meet him with me?”
Whatever happens, Jun Hyuk is the person in charge of this opera. President Stern has no choice but to follow his lead.
“I’ll have to, won’t I? We need to show that we’re asking this of him earnestly.”
There is a character more important to Jun Hyuk than the protagonist.
The female vocalist barely appears in the original. But the soprano who expresses the tragedy in the introduction is a very important role.
Vito Corleone’s mother. Vito’s father was killed for disobeying the area’s mafia boss Don Francesco Ciccio, and Vito’s older brother was shot to death at his father’s funeral for swearing revenge.
Vito’s mother went looking for Don Ciccio and begged for him to save the second son, Vito, but he said that he could not let him live because he will, without a doubt, try to get revenge if he grows more.
So Vito’s mother takes out a knife, holds Don Ciccio hostage to let Vito escape, and she takes a bullet to her death.
The soprano needs to leave after just 2 songs that express this powerful motherhood and a tragedy that leads to the death of the entire family. She needs to sing the devastating situation of having to beg the enemy, who killed her husband and oldest son, to save her last remaining son.
On top of that, her son will die if she slashes the mafia boss’ neck with the knife, but she cannot push the knife in if she wants to save her son. In this incredible situation, she holds him hostage until her son gets away and she needs to sing while crying out for her son to be safe.
It took Ungaretti over 2 weeks to write the script for these 2 songs alone. Jun Hyuk was strangely fussy and obsessed over it, repeatedly demanding edits. When he was pleased with the lyrics, he told Ungaretti with confidence,
“These 2 songs will become the representative songs of the opera.”
They are called the representative songs, but it is a supporting role that needs to sing just 2 songs before exiting. There was no one who wanted to audition for this role.
Andalucia is the 2nd largest district in Spain, located in the south of the country on the Mediterranean Sea. The climate is hot even for warm southern Europe, so it is a top vacation spot for Europeans.
“What? By myself?”
“Yeah. He said that he wants to talk with you alone. I’ll be at the hotel, so call when you’re done.”
President Stern left Jun Hyuk in front of a big mansion, and briskly went back to the hotel.
With white hair, a face without wrinkles, tall height, and brawny build, Dario Argento does not look like he is over 70 years old. He welcomed Jun Hyuk who came in looking around at the living room that is as large as a gym.
“It’s an honor, Mr. Argento.”
When Argento took Jun Hyuk’s hand, he could feel vigor.
“Why does it have to be me? Isn’t there Salvatore Licitra who is at an appropriate age and is the best tenor?”
Argento slowly enjoyed a glass of wine as they exchanged greetings before he asked in a straightforward manner.
“You’re still vigorous. There are 3 acts but young Vito Corleone comes out in the 1st, so you’ll be able to handle it.”
“I don’t know if you know, but I can’t even do a C5 (3 octave, high C) right now.”
“That is one of the biggest reasons why I want to work with you.”
“What? Well, ha ha. You’ve come determined.”
Argento laughed good naturedly. It is the work that is currently receiving the most attention, and the fact that the musician at the center of it all wants him helps to momentarily get rid of the sadness of growing older.
“No. It’s not just something I’m saying. A singer who does a high C perfectly needs to take the role of the son. I want a treble that feels like it is worn out. It’s the last flame.”
Argento drank the last of his wine and stared at his empty glass for a while. He spoke again when there was an awkward silence and it was about to become uncomfortable.
“You… Did you notice?”
“Yes. I realized after I heard you in the London charity concert in the Spring. There’s someone wrong with your throat, right?”
“From hearing that?”
Argento almost dropped his wine glass.
“Did you get surgery?”
“Last year. It wasn’t a big procedure.”
Dario Argento’s dropped voice showed his feelings.
“I see. That’s why your voice changed.”
“I’m surprised. This is something that only my family and the hospital know.”
“I wouldn’t have noticed either if you had an average voice. I was able to catch that subtle difference because your voice is so delicate and it has strong character.”
Argento filled his glass and buried his body deep in the sofa.
“I need to retire now. Singing lightly at a charity concert is okay, but it’s possible for me to sing passionately in an opera.”
“I’m sorry, but what exactly does impossible mean? Does it mean you can’t sing at all? Or does it mean that your voice isn’t smooth?”
Jun Hyuk did not mind at all even though Argento said that it is impossible.
“It’s closer to the latter. As I go higher, I’m sure my voice will crack.”
“So… it doesn’t mean that your life would be at stake or there would be damage to your vocal chords if you sing too much in an opera… right?”