Soprano Sumi Jo: There’s no royal road to learning singing

August 23, 2016

SEOUL, Aug. 23 (Yonhap) — South Korea’s leading soprano Sumi Jo on Tuesday released an album to mark her 30th anniversary of debuting as an opera singer.

The two-volume album titled “La Prima Donna” compiled 32 of the best songs on her previous albums, ranging from opera arias, cross-over pieces and classical Korean numbers.

South Korean soprano Sumi Jo

South Korean soprano Sumi Jo

She is scheduled to go on a concert tour of her home country to promote the new album. The tour titled “La Prima Donna” will begin in Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, on Thursday and continue in Seoul and other provincial cities of Gunsan, Changwon and Anyang till Saturday, next week.

“I’ve done so much work over the past 30 years and I was able to achieve things that I’ve never imagined before,” Jo wrote in the album.

Jo made her European operatic debut as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste in October 1986, 2 1/2 years after going to study in Italy, the birthplace of opera.

The 53-year-old recalled taking a chance to play the lead role in an Italian opera was “like a miracle” at that time.

“But I was never nervous because I practiced a lot. I rather wanted to ascend to the stage and sing as early as possible.”

She later took leading roles at the world’s five largest opera theaters, including La Scala in Milan, Opera Bastille in Paris and Metropolitan Opera in New York before she reached the age of 30.

In 1993, she became the first Asian singer to win “La Siola d’Oro,” an Italian award for the best soprano. In 2008, she received the International Puccini Award for the first time as a non-Italian artist.

Jo was proud of many Korean classical singers who work actively on the world stage these days.

“I think Koreans are born with such talent,” she said.

But she advised the younger generation of students not to “be hasty.”

“Although there is no royal road to learning singing, they want to achieve something fast,” she said.

Young students should take time to practice by themselves rather than resorting to tutorial videos on YouTube or other materials, and go down their own path, she stressed.

“Artists exist for the audience. The more we give, the bigger love we receive,” she said, vowing to continue to do her best on future stages.



One Comment

  1. Robert Valence

    September 5, 2016 at 7:14 AM

    South Korea has been blossoming over the last few decades, led by musicians Kyung Wha Chung, Sumi Jo, Sarah Chang, Youngok Shin and a bevy of younger talent.
    But Sumi Jo is the star of them all, her exquisite voice, her versatility and innate talent, her profound musicianship, her physical beauty and her lovely personality.
    It’s only a pity that she’s never found herself a husband and it’s tragic that there’s no young Sumis to carry on her tradition.
    She’s lovely!