Invited by the Korean National Theatre in Seoul, Singaporean director Ong Keng Sen suggested to adapt Trojan Women into a contemporary opera based on pansori (traditional Korean musical stories).
Through Euripides’ Greek tragedy, her show Trojan Women draws a parallel between the trauma of Trojan women and the suffering that Korean women have experienced to this day.
Ong Keng Sen used changgeuk, a theatrical genre derived from pansori. This show is performed by the National Changgeuk Company of Korea, and the pansori themselves were composed by a living legend: Ahn Sook-sun, the most famous singer of this musical genre in Korea. But, war and its violence being a timeless theme, Ong Keng Sen wanted to add a contemporary component to his show. “I had the good fortune to be introduced to the composer Jung Jae-il. I wanted to address in an unusual way the ambiguous role of Helen of Troy, and I also wanted to understand why pansori coexist with contemporary music in the changgeuk. And so, I decided to cast Helen as an intermediary between male and female. And I chose a pansori singer for this role. I also wanted to bring K-pop (Korean pop) into Trojan Women because the show includes elements covering several centuries, from the Trojan War to the present day.” Ong Keng Sen added the K-pop to the choirs, which usually comment on the events of Greek tragedies.