First, try to calculate the odds of seeing a French rock opera that opened in Paris in 2009, toured briefly through France, Belgium and Switzerland, then closed in Paris in 2011. Beyond watching the DVD from 2010, there wouldn’t appear to be a chance to see Mikelangelo Loconte reprise his role as Mozart anywhere, much less live.
Next, try to calculate the odds that any of the original cast would return to revive the show in Seoul, Korea in 2016. Though Faerin’s favorite Salieri, Florent Mothe, was busy with the new King Arthur show in Paris, her much-adored Mozart was cast for the Korean run.
Now add in the chances that we would have any possible way of navigating our way in, around and through Seoul when we’ve never even left the States before. However, Vanessa (Puu) spent a year living and studying there and was more than happy to return with us so that we could make this odd pilgrimage to see the show that sired the song that opened Faerinstock 2015 (Vivre à en crever). So off we went to see a French musical in Korea.
We arrived early Monday morning and checked in to our room at the hostel down the street from Vanessa’s old apartment, then spent the day sightseeing. On Tuesday we headed down to the Sejong Center for the Performing Arts a little early to see if we could catch some of the cast coming in. We got a slightly chilly reception but didn’t really think too much about it. There were some young girls hanging around that had apparently been coming to every show of the run and a couple of other fans but we were able to talk to Solal who plays Leopold Mozart (Mozart’s Dad).
He was astounded that we’d come all the way from the States to see the show and was concerned for us because “You know it’s in French? We have Korean subtitles but not English ones.” We assured him that we were well aware and it wasn’t a problem for us.
Then Nuno Resende, the understudy for Mozart’s role, came by to speak to us briefly. He was also surprised to hear that we had come so far to see the show.
Then Mikelangelo (Mikele) arrived in the company of his “handler” and was ushered backstage as quickly as possible. We were disappointed but determined to stick it out and see if he would reappear. He did come out for a coffee and Vanessa casually wandered past him, saying something mundane in English (excuse me or where is the trash can or something, I didn’t hear it). That was enough though.
He came over to us to explain that he had been warned about us on his arrival because he had previously had some issues with a very persistent (I believe his exact word was “crazy”) French fan and the crew was concerned that one of the new European-looking fans might be her, but since we spoke English he figured we were safe to talk to.
He was kind and accommodating. Ben had been in the restroom and returned to have the star of the show introducing himself to him, complete with a very french “enchanté”!.
The fact that we had come all the way from the States, flying in just the day before, solely to see the show impressed him. We got a wave from stage during the Princess of Orange scene and then after the show, during the curtain call we were all acknowledged in turn with Vanessa getting the final kiss blown to her because she was sitting and recording everything.
I was thrilled. Faerin would have been thrilled and I know that, had she been there, that would have been her hand, her kiss, her acknowledgment by someone she admired and had a small celebrity crush on. It would have been a peak experience in her life, as it was in mine and Ben and Vanessa’s. After the show, we all got kisses on both cheeks from Mikele and an invitation to return to see him again. That started the wheels turning…
Before we’d returned to the hostel we’d decided to see the show again and this time, we’d try to share our story with the cast through Mikele, who had been so instrumental in our being there in the first place. The plan was set, tickets were purchased and, following a very simple ceremony of placing some of Faerin’s ashes under a cherry tree at the palace, we came back Thursday night for another round of Mozart l’opera rock.
This time we got waved at by much of the cast coming in. For some reason, they recognized us *cough* pink hair *cough*…
Vanessa had brought a copy of the program from Faerinstock and we took it with us to help facilitate the story. Again Mikele came in with his handler, again he was ushered backstage without a word to us but this time when he came back out we told him that we had a short story to tell him. “A short story? Or a great story?” he asked. We assured him that it would be both.
He did come back, indicated that we were on the clock and I began the tale…
He was obviously touched and took the program backstage where Laurent Ban (that evening’s Salieri) later said he had seen it, so it must have been displayed somehow. During this show I got a kiss blown to me during the Princess of Orange scene and again during the curtain call.
After the show, we had a short but extremely memorable conversation with Mikele once he managed to get through all of the fans in front of us.
Vanessa (our recorder) sauntered off to talk to Laurent, who also had words of comfort and companionship for me (he lost a daughter of his own three years ago). However, my conversation with Mikelangelo didn’t end with the recording as he asked when he’d see me again and when I said “never” he responded with a distraught “No”. I told him I was flying out the next day, he asked what time. I have no idea what he was thinking but he settled for telling me, Ben and Vanessa to write to him. When he turned from me to some newly arrived fans who wanted to know if he ever wore the shirt they’d given him before, he grabbed on to my arm and wouldn’t let go.
So we did it. We went to see the show but we did so much more than that. We brought Faerin’s story to a man she admired and touched his heart. Had she been alive, it would have been her adventure and it would have been amazing. As it was, it became our quest and it couldn’t have turned out better if we’d tried.
A world of thanks to the cast and crew of Mozart l’opera rock for an amazing show, a fantastic adventure and a truly great story to share.
For those unfamiliar, the song Vivre à en crever can be heard in the video below, complete with subtitles in French and English (as well as Faerin’s much-adored Florent Mothe playing Salieri).