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In Search of Korean Traditional OperaDiscourses of Changguk$
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Andrew Killick

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780824832902

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824832902.001.0001

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A Night at the Korean Opera

A Night at the Korean Opera

(p.1) Chapter One A Night at the Korean Opera
In Search of Korean Traditional Opera

Andrew Killick

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter describes in detail the author's experience of attending a typical performance of the most frequently staged repertory item of all, The Tale of Ch'unhyang. This provides a reference point for subsequent discussions of the various ways in which the form and content of such performances may or may not be considered traditional. He describes how the star of the show came out on stage before the performance proper to teach the audience the chorus of a folk song that appears in the first scene so that they can sing along. During curtain calls the actors remain “in character.” As in much Western theater, bows are taken in reverse order of importance, establishing a hierarchy among the performers. The romantic couple are last among the cast, but the toch'ang (narrator) does not take a bow until after the musical director. Finally come the choreographer and director, both somewhat incongruously wearing Western formal dress. The whole sequence has been carefully rehearsed and timed to several minutes of music from the opera that comes to a conclusive close as the final curtain descends.

Keywords:   ch'angguk, Korean opera, The Tale of Ch'unhyang, traditional opera, stage performance

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