Soprano Im Sun Hae To Venture Into Musicals

luvsmiling, April 23, 2015, 8:57 a.m.

World-renowned soprano Im Sun-hae's international schedule is fully booked until 2017. But at the moment she's most excited about a project that is, for her, uncharted territory. For the first time in her singing career, Im will perform in a musical. 

"In opera, you always face the audience when you sing, no matter where you are on stage. But in musicals you use a microphone, so you can sing with your back to the audience if need be. It's really interesting to venture into a new field and experience these kinds of differences," Im said. 

Im will star as Christine in the musical "Phantom", whose Korea premiere is scheduled for next Tuesday. "Phantom" is based on Gaston Leroux's 1910 novel "The Phantom of the Opera", which also inspired the hugely successful musical of the same name.

Im, one of the most sought-after divas in the early-music field, is that rare thing: an Asian vocalist who has found success as a Baroque music specialist. This is why the news of her star turn in a musical came as a surprise to many. 

"Many people have asked me if I'm the same Im Sun-hae as the one among the cast of 'Phantom'. The part was offered to me in May last year when I was in New York," she said. Director Robert Johanson was persistent, sending Im emails trying to convince her that she should take the role.

"I read the script, and found that it has greater depth than 'The Phantom of the Opera'. I decided there was a chance I could become the public face of this musical." Im's busy schedule will require her to leave the country three times during the musical's run, which ends July 26. 

While she was studying at Seoul National University some 20 years ago, Im sang with the chorus in "West Side Story" to earn some pocket money. But she never dreamed that one day she would be on stage performing in a musical. "There are always things to learn from good singers of any genre, whether it's classical, stage musicals or pop," Im said.

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