Winter 2007 > Fine Arts
From molecular biology to playing Figaro
By Megan Blank '07
When Sae Chan Lee ’09 found out he would be the lead actor in the college’s Fall 2006 opera, “The Marriage of Figaro,” he didn’t believe it.
Playing the role of Figaro was Lee’s first opera experience, though he had been involved in musical theater at Bethany Christian High School in Goshen, as well as had taken voice lessons for the past three semesters at GC. “At first I was overwhelmed,” Lee said. “I didn’t know why I had gotten the part, as I’m not a music student.”
Unlike many performers in the opera, Lee is a molecular biology major and managing classes with music proved challenging. “I had rehearsals as well as organic chemistry and biology classes to balance,” Lee said. He would often get up at 4 or 5 a.m. to study.
To prepare for the role, Lee downloaded the tracks onto his iPod, “I spent a lot of time just listening to the songs, getting the music down and the language,” he said.
“Whenever I saw him, he had his earplugs in, listening to [the opera],” said Deb Brubaker, music director for the production.
Becoming an actor was also a challenge, which Lee mastered by practicing facial expressions in front of a mirror as well as having cast members watch him and give feedback.
“I think I felt in character once I wore the costume and makeup and that helped the audience get into the character,” said Lee. All the costumes in the opera were given modern touches and Lee’s hair was spiked for the role as Figaro. It was held up by “lots and lots of hair glue,” he said.
“He created a joyful, fun-loving Figaro,” said Brubaker.