Premiering online next Saturday, October 30, Puccini's Gianni Schicchi
stars South Korean soprano Hera Hyesang Park as one of opera's most-iconic leading ladies, Lauretta. Read on to learn more about the rising star herself, her love of the opera, and what to expect from our digital version of the classic Puccini comedy.
COC: Welcome Hera! What’s it been like working in Toronto and with this team?Hera:
I have to say that it’s been one of the most positive experiences of my whole career. I completely fell in love with the opera house and its staff who were so supportive and kind from the very first day. The welcome we all received was incredibly warm and genuine. Such was the welcome and the support we received that I felt that I could be truly myself. Everyone involved in this production was very generous with their time, advice and friendship.
At the end of the performance I went to my dressing room as I needed to be on my own in order to be quiet and pray, to say thank you for the incredible experience I’d undertaken.
Every aspect of working with this company was pure joy for me.COC: You recently said in an interview that you actually wanted to be a comedian growing up! What made you fall in love with opera?Hera:
Every Sunday evening I would watch the comedy programs on tv with my father and I could mimic all the voices of the different characters. I loved making everyone laugh and this became something that I would do for our extended family, too. For example, when we visited my grandmother in the country she would ask me to sing and dance for her neighbours who all clapped and seemed happy.
From there I started singing in choirs at school and having lessons. My mother still insists that I sang before I could speak! From those choirs I was able to have professional training that eventually got me to Juilliard in New York.COC: As Lauretta, you get to sing one of the most iconic opera arias ever written—what is it about this music that’s inspired its placement across pop culture?Hera:
It’s used in so many commercials, as well as TV and film soundtracks. Growing up in Korea you heard it all the time for different campaigns. I remember one long-running series for a brand of refrigerators! It has a great melody that hooks people immediately, it’s gentle and soft—
so very seductive. Some people when they think of opera think it’s very dramatic and loud, but this is the opposite. It also comes from the heart of the singer as it starts on a middle note that uses mixed voice.* Maria Callas’s version uses this mixed voice in the middle of her range. Other singers have also sung it their way and made it famous—
Kiri Te Kanawa singing on the soundtrack to the film A Room With A View
is an obvious example.*Note: Mixed voice refers to singing that combines aspects of head voice (higher register) with chest voice (lower register, deeper tonality). While all singing engages the vocal cords, the differentiation between chest and head voice refers to where in the body a performer most acutely feels the vibration of their singing. Mixed voice typically translates to the richest and most powerful singing tone. COC: What would you say to anyone who's never seen Gianni Schicchi—or opera!—before?Hera:
If they’ve seen a soap opera that deals with a family drama then they’ll feel very at home with Gianni Schicchi
!! It’s all about human nature, families and greed—
but combined with a young and genuine love.
premieres online on Saturday, October 30, and is available to stream free online for the next six months. Click here
to sign up for our Free Digital Membership to enjoy all of our fall offerings.