Act 8: Lively 7
While arguing with Lee Suh-ah, I continued practising.
After Lee Suh-ah’s songs, I would give feedback and when I sang, she would give feedback. It was the same old practice.
When practising with Lee Suh-ah, I usually focused on embedding ‘emotions’ into the song, and practised slowly like I was going up a staircase.
In other words, it was like this.
If Stage 1 revolved around singing with emotions while throwing all the techniques away,
Stage 2 would be the same except with a scoop of techniques,
And Stage 3 was a song with both emotions and technique perfect.
…Of course, I was still stuck in the process of attempting to reach to the third stage and failing. When I was immersed in singing, the moment I thought about anything related to technique, it would break immediately so…
It was similar to dancing with a cup full of water placed on the head, like how people wouldn’t dare to move at the start in fear of the water spilling and would later be able to walk.
Right now, I was at the level of just beginning to walk, which meant that dancing was still a faraway dream.
After listening cautiously to my song, Lee Suh-ah opened her mouth.
“Hmm… this one’s not it. The emotion’s gone.”
“…I knew it.”
I watched Lee Suh-ah shake her head and heaved out a sigh.
Ah, this training method… Although I was getting better steadily, I was frustrated because it was too slow. It felt like there would be a better method but I couldn’t figure out what it was.
When I sat there with a frown, Lee Suh-ah scoffed and clicked her tongue.
“Hey, I’m clueless as to how to even start it and yet you’re greedy aren’t you? Hmph. You’re already getting better but you want to learn faster? Are you making fun of me?”
“…You’re right. Why can’t you do it? I told you everything right?”
Seeing her fuming, I contemplated seriously.
Although I explained about the ‘emotions’ throughout the past several weeks during the practices, she couldn’t learn it at all. It didn’t work no matter what song she tried out.
Touching my chin, I thought.
What was the difference between Lee Suh-ah and I?
The difference between the people that could and those that couldn’t… Suddenly, I felt that it would be tremendously helpful for the growth of my skills if I could find out the reason behind the difference.
Let’s start off with laying down all the differences one by one.
First off, would be the difference in experience.
I’ve been singing more than Lee Suh-ah and I was more experienced in life. Was that why it was easier for me to put emotions into the song…?
‘…Does that mean that being old is the key?’
I immediately rejected that possibility.
Being old was the key? But there were bigshots that could sing great songs at a young age, and it was impossible to say that those songs were lacking in emotions.
In other words, although being older might be an advantage, it wasn’t the only factor.
“What would it be…”
Since I couldn’t think of the answer, I took out my phone, opened Kakaotalk and immediately sent a message to teacher Kwak Jungsoo.
[Sir. What are emotions, I wonder]
The quiet phone soon gave off vibrations.
[Teacher Kwak: ?]
[Me: Remember the recording I sent you? I’m trying to practise that but it’s not working T.T]
After some time, a reply arrived.
[Teacher Kwak: zzz.
How would I tell you that with messages?
You’re not even next to me right now.
Study it yourself.]
[Teacher Kwak: If I was to tell you something at least
Although it’s a bit hard to put into words,
You need to empathise.
You don’t really understand that right?
So just practise by yourself.]
On the 5th of June, the sky was bright.
The sun giving off bright rays that seemed to prick the eyes was surrounded by small bits of cloud within the wide blue canvas.
Glancing outside the window with relaxed eyes, I opened my mouth.
It really was. The broad skies expanded out faraway and after staring at it for a long time, it even gave off a cool feeling. From what I heard during the Orientation of the freshmen, the dorms were built on the highest hill and that seemed to have been true.
Besides, since the freshmen were the youngest, we were living on the sixth floor which was the highest. Thanks to that, there weren’t that many tall buildings around.
I usually barely held myself back from swearing when climbing up and down the stairs but it was quite good for things like these…
“Was it good?”
Tilting my head, I rested my chin on the windowsill.
In the sky, I could see an airplane drawing a white trail of clouds on the blue canvas.
Thinking back, it felt like it had been a while since I had stared into the sky like this. Because I was busy recently with the song presentation, prac test and whatnot, I only remembered going back and forth from the practice rooms, the school and the cafeteria.
Right, people should at least have the luxury to stare at the skies.
Like that, I stared blankly at the sky and healed myself before standing up from the seat.
Shoving the door open, I left the room and found a quiet corridor. Normally, students would still be at school so unless they were coming back to change their clothes, they wouldn’t really return to their dorms.
Carrying my feet down the stairs, I took out my phone and doublechecked that my ask for leave from school had been accepted.
If this went wrong, I could get caught for truanting.
[5th of June, 15 o’clock ~ 23 o’clock. Leave from school]
After carefully reading through the words again, I made a faint smile. My feet carrying me to the entrance of the dorms were light.
Ah, good, good. Watching the La Stella opera company of 2020 directly – it was an experience that couldn’t be traded with any form of currency after 20 years.
The current lineup of singers, plus the premium stamp that they’re in their youthful days would have albums selling like crazy.
And yet, I got to attend in person? What other words did I need to say?
With a wide smile, I walked towards the entrance of the school when a silhouette of a girl in a distance entered my eyes.
Beneath the bright sun rays, her black hair glowed. She had a loose shirt and a tidy skirt but had several tiny ornaments in detail, making it evident even from a distance that she was quite excited for today.
Seeing Han Dasom wave her hand with a bright smile the moment she found me, a thought suddenly popped up in my head.
Now that I think about it, I feel like this was my first time seeing her in casual clothes.
“Yeah hello. You look pretty today.”
Watching her make a faint smile, I carried my feet.
The opera we’ll be watching today, ‘Tosca’ by Puccini which La Stella would be performing was planned to open at the Opera Theatre of the Seoul Arts Centre.
The theatre was a bit far from our school… and it was too far to walk so we decided to go with a car.
With none other than the one belonging to Han Dasom’s family.
I said it was okay because I could just catch a bus but Han Dasom kept on offering by saying that we were heading the same direction anyway.
Well, what else could I do? Thinking that, I just decided to get on it together.
Inside a black, fancy sedan, a male sitting on the driver’s seat gave a small bow as I observed him quietly. He had a clean face devoid of any beard and didn’t seem to be old enough to be her father and they appeared too distant for them to be siblings. They greeted in polite language after all.
It felt more like a hired driver.
Thinking up to there, I opened my mouth.
“Dasom. Your house was rich huh?”
Glancing at her face which turned darker for some reason, I turned to stare outside the window.
Well, I had somewhat guessed it already because I mean, it was just way too obvious.
Han Dasom knew nothing about opera and yet she was clearly into popular music and musicals. She had also been singing pop songs in the future.
In that case, there was no reason for her to come to Future Arts High because Future Arts High was completely on the classical side. If she was going with pop songs, it would’ve been better to go towards a performing art school with applied music. Entering Future Arts High to throw away both time and money would be an extremely incomprehensible decision.
In other words, there was only one possible case scenario.
‘An opposition from the family.’
Even though they hated popular music, they put her into the Future Arts High, saying that opera was okay.
It meant that at least, the family had no interest in money because pop songs were easier to earn money with.
In that case, what things other than money were they interested in? It was too simple – they probably put her into the school to create an elegant hobby. Saying that she was doing classical music just sounded cool right?
Because her downcasted eyes appeared somewhat pitiable, I tried starting a conversation.
“Are you going back home after watching the performance today? I was thinking of asking the school for a night out but just went with a leave.”
“Un. I think I will go home… because I didn’t go last week…”
“That’s good. Maybe you’ll be having a party or something, with your parents saying that their daughter had come third at a concour or something.”
After smiling bashfully, she threw her gaze downward. Then, she fidgeted with her hands above her skirt for a bit before heaving out a sigh and stealing a glance at me.
She appeared very busy.
I watched her curiously when Han Dasom opened her mouth with a strangely awkward tone.
“I should’ve done better…”
“Un… I mean… it was a concour I went to without even helping your song presentation… I’m so regretful that I only got third place…”
“C’mon. Third place is good enough. It’s just that Lee Suh-ah who came first place there is a monster. We are humans right?”
She made a ‘hehe’ smile, before suddenly giving out a cough and changing her expression.
“Uhum. But still… I should have helped Yunjae present the song… it was hard for you because you had to do it with someone you didn’t know well right…?”
“Uh… well, it was quite hard.”
After that, Han Dasom became fully revived.
Her expression was bright like usual and the smile on her face didn’t show any signs of disappearing. She talked while staring into my eyes, before gradually pulling herself closer and she was right next to me when I realised.
“Yunjae, can I take a photo as a commemoration…? Um… it’s my first time seeing an opera you see…”
Although I wasn’t sure why, she angled it so that I would be inside the photo as well and soon started typing on her phone at an astonishing speed with a bright smile.
She was really fast at typing…
While I was blankly looking on, the car arrived at the opera theatre. I opened the door and walked out as the familiar scenery greeted me.
The Opera Theatre of the Seoul Arts Centre.
The outward appearance of the massive theatre that could hold up to two thousand people could be explained with the words – a large gamasot.
It sounded like I was degrading the place but how else would I describe it when it just perfectly resembled one?
Look at those cylindrical walls going up from the ground with a circular roof placed on the top and a small handle decorating the top.
It was a superb gamasot.
Did they design it like that to imply that it was a place that made delicious music? I had those stray thoughts running across my head.
Seeing Han Dasom let out a mutter with a blank expression, I asked quietly.
“Is this your first time coming here?”
“Un… I’ve never seen an opera yet after all.”
Since I had been here a lot, I acted like a guide and led Han Dasom to various places because there was still some time left before the opera started.
Walking down the corridor, I answered any questions Han Dasom asked, and while entering the doors of the theatre, I talked about any historical facts that popped up in my head as well as the effect architectural structure had on music…
When I talked non-stop about the theatre, Han Dasom asked with a tilted head.
“Have you been here a lot…?”
“Uh… yeah. Just sometimes.”
I avoided her gaze that seemed to ask, ‘Is it possible to know all that by just sometimes coming here?’, as a drop of cold sweat flowed down my cheek.
Soon, the time passed, and I could feel with my skin that the performance was nearing its start as the seats gradually got filled up. Watching the stage being frequented by several staff members, Han Dasom tilted her head on her seat.
“By the way Yunjae… why is that place dug up…?”
Following her gaze, I discovered that her eyes were pointed at the place in front of the stage, which was dug up like a large hole.
It was quite eye-catching because it was the only uneven spot out of the level area in front of the stage.
“That’s a pit.”
“Yeah. It literally means what it says and… that’s where the orchestra performs from while the actors sing on the stage.”
Letting out an ‘ohh…’ as a sign of admiration, she lifted her back up and stared deeply into the pit. Seeing her do that, a smile crept out unconsciously.
That was cute.
After observing the inside for a while, Han Dasom opened her mouth with a downhearted tone.
“But performing inside a hole is… not fair… Their faces won’t even be seen well…”
I blinked my eyes before giving a nod of agreement.
Indeed, that was another way of seeing it.
Since I had always been the one above stage, I had never thought of it in that way and only thought of that hole as the place they belonged at.
Because in opera, the actors were the main characters,
I had never once thought about the stances of the performers that had to perform all the way down there.
In other words, I had never empathised with them.
The moment I tried to grasp the sudden spark of thought, my blurry eyes caught sight of the screens unfolding.
It marked the start of the performance.