A talented opera student made history on the weekend of April 21-22, as Ju Hyeon Han became the first blind singer to be cast in a leading role in an American conservatory or university opera production.
Stony Brook Opera staged Benjamin Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia with Ju Hyeon in the major role of Female Chorus, who “speaks” throughout the opera for the female characters.
Ju Hyeon, who lost her sight as a baby, is in her fourth year of a Doctor of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance degree. The performance represented the fulfillment of a life’s dream.
“I feel so honored that Stony Brook gave me this amazing opportunity,” said Ju Hyeon. “So many people told me that it would never happen, that opera would be impossible for me and I shouldn’t even try. However, the SBU voice faculty are very open-minded and they wholeheartedly embrace the belief that a university is an educational institution so that I should get the same education and opportunities that my sighted colleagues are getting.”
Ju Hyeon faced numerous challenges. She could not get visual cues from the conductor, but she solved this problem by putting in extra work to learn the musical score so thoroughly so that if something went awry she would be able to fix it on the fly.
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