The inspiration for the opera Immortal Love came from an event that attracted attention around the world: in the 1990s, a mummy was discovered near the city of Andong together with letters written more than four centuries ago. Standing out among these was one from a woman to her deceased husband, speaking of immortal love in words that span the generations. In this ambitious treatment by the Daegu Opera House, the immortality of love is shown in a way that perfectly combines three different elements, with the dramatic tension provided by both the well-constructed story arc and the encounters between heavenly and earthly elements: rejecting the love of the celestial gardener Palmoksura, Yeoni falls in love with the earthly mortal Eungtae, which the heavenly being avenges by ending Eungtae’s life.
Conductor: Baek Jinhyun
Artistic director: Choi Sangmu
Librettist: Cho Doojin
Director: Lee Hyekyeong
Video director: Ahn Jaeyeon
Costume designer: Jeong Eunsuk
Make-up designer: Kim Anyoung
Yeoni » Ma Hyeseon
Eungtae Lee » Oh Yeongmin
Palmoksura » Yoon Sungwoo
Yosin Lee: Kim Mansoo
Matchmaker / Yosin Lee’s wife » Son Junga
Haun, the monk » Hong Sunpo
Mandeuk: Park Jimin
Featuring the Hungarian State Opera Chorus and Orchestra.
Chorus director: Gábor Csiki
In the celestial garden
In the celestial garden, there bloom trumpet flowers that are unattainable to earthly humans. Yeoni and the nymphs dance among the flowers, observed by Palmoksura, the gardener. From time to time, the nymphs present him with a flower. Palmoksura, meanwhile, watches Yeoni longingly. Yeoni, however, grows fearful at this and rejects him. Suddenly, thunder crashes, and Yeoni flees in terror, taking a trumpet flower with her to earth. Palmoksura heads after her.
The house of Yosin Lee
The monk Haun describes the fate awaiting Yosin Lee’s newly-born second son, Eungtae: the child will die young if Yosin does not eradicate the trumpet flowers from his garden and fails to find his son an ugly and scrawny wife. This is the only way he can preserve the boy’s life.
Hunting grounds in Yeongyang County in the province of Gyeongsangbuk-do.
Eungtae is hunting with his servants when he falls in love at first sight with the stunningly beautiful Yeoni, who lives as a recluse, far from people, as she is afraid for her life. She too falls in love with the lad, and as a pledge of her feelings she presents him with a trumpet flower. When Eungtae arrives home, his servant Mandeuk relates to him the prophecy that the monk Haun delivered long ago. Also filled with fear is Yosin, who asks his son to get rid of the flower. Eungtae longs for Yeoni, but his father calls for the matchmaker to find the ugliest girl available to be Eungtae’s wife. The matchmaker seeks out the woman whose anger spares no-one – not even children – from weeping.
The house of Yosin Lee on the wedding day
The entire village is getting ready for Eungtae’s wedding. The bride arrives in the shrine. Yosin Lee is surprised to see what a lovely figure she has, as he had expected quite a different girl. However, it is now too late to stop the wedding ceremony. Eungtae and Yeoni are happy to see each other again. They marry, and the people of the village celebrate. Palmoksura watches the loving couple in secret from beside Yosin Lee’s house.
In the garden of Eungtae and Yeoni’s house
A few years later, on a moonlit night, Eungtae and Yeoni are strolling in the garden of their house. They reminisce about the time when they first met. Suddenly, they find their path blocked by Palmoksura, who seizes Yeoni’s arm in order to take her back to heaven with her. Enraged, he curses Eongtae, who dies in Yeoni’s arms. A sublime funeral dirge is heard, spring petals start dancing in the air, and soon it starts to drizzle. The voices of the singers come in one after the other, and everyone joins the funeral procession. Yeoni plants trumpet (Sowhay) flowers while she waits for the time when they will meet again. She names the flower “Neung Sowhay”, which means “immortal love”.