Jo, Sumi

Jo, Sumi
▪ 2002

      In 2001 South Korean soprano Sumi Jo continued to grace the stages of major opera houses and concert halls throughout the world; she also released a critically acclaimed compact disc (CD), Prayers, which featured her renditions of religious songs ranging from Franz Schubert's “Ave Maria” to the hymn “Amazing Grace.” Prayers followed Jo's release of another highly praised CD, Only Love (2000), a collection of songs from Broadway musicals.

      Soo Kyong Jo was born in Seoul, S.Kor., on Nov. 22, 1962. She began studying music at an early age. She entered the music school of Seoul National University but left in her second year to attend the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. There, beginning in 1983, she studied keyboard and vocal music. After graduating in 1985, she came to the attention of Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan, who praised the beauty of Jo's voice, and on his recommendation she appeared at the Salzburg (Austria) Festival in 1986. In the same year, she made her operatic debut as Gilda in Guiseppe Verdi's Rigoletto, and in 1988 she appeared as Oscar in that composer's Un ballo in maschera, with Karajan conducting. She recorded the work with Karajan and counted Oscar among her favourite roles. During the late 1980s Jo took first place in a number of international competitions. By the end of the decade her career had been established, and she was on her way to becoming an international star.

      Jo's light, expressive voice made her well suited for the major coloratura roles of the operatic repertoire. She was particularly noted for her portrayal of the Queen of the Night in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and for her title role in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor. Among the operas of Richard Strauss, she sang Sophia in Der Rosenkavalier and Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos. In the 1992 Grammy Award-winning recording of Strauss's Die Frau ohne Schatten by the Vienna Philharmonic, conducted by Georg Solti, Jo was the Voice of the Falcon. She also recorded a number of collections of arias as well as CDs that had crossover appeal to popular music audiences.

      In 1993 Jo was named the best soprano of the year at the sixth La Siola Doro in Forli, Italy. She found herself in demand by the leading opera companies of the world. Among European houses, she sang at La Scala (Milan), Covent Garden (London), and the Vienna Staatsoper. In the U.S. she performed at the Metropolitan Opera in New York City and at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Her résumé also included engagements in South America, Australia, and Asia.

Robert Rauch

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Universalium. 2010.

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