Sumi Jo

Introduction

Praised for the remarkable agility, precision and warmth of her voice, and for her outstanding musicianship, Sumi Jo has established herself as one of her generation’s most sought-after sopranos. She has been consistently greeted with exceptional accolades, by public and press alike, for her performances in the most important opera houses and concert halls of the world, including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Washington Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Hamburg State Opera. 

Sumi is also the highest selling Classical singer in the world, with over 50 recordings to her credit, including a Grammy-winning Die Frau ohne Schatten with Sir Georg Solti for Decca London and Un Ballo in Maschera for Deutsche Grammophon under Herbert von Karajan. She has performed at the Winter Olympics in Sochi and for the Pope in Korea, and appeared, performing as herself, in the film 'Youth' by Paolo Sorrentino starring Michael Caine, which was released in the UK in January 2016. Sumi’s performance of the film’s signature song, “Simple Song #3” won her nominations for the 2016 Golden Globe awards, as well as an Oscar in the “Music – Original Song” category. 

Sumi’s engagements in 2016-17 and beyond include concerts in Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia, a guest appearance at the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s Lunar New Year Concert at David Geffen Hall, Maria Callas Tribute concerts with the Hong Kong Philharmonic, a charity recital in Manila, a gala concert at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center Athens, concerts in Toulouse, Taipei and Pingtung with the Orchestre National du Capitole de Toulouse, Fauré Requiem with the Montreal Symphony, and recitals in recitals in Clermont-Ferrand and Montreal. Sumi will join the distinguished jury for the Cardiff Singer of the World 2017 competition.

This is for information only. Please contact Camilla Wehmeyer for an up-to-date biography.

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News & Features

Repertoire

Operatic Repertoire

Ambroise Thomas - Hamlet, Ophelie 
BELLINI - I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Giulietta
BELLINI - I Puritani, Elvira
BELLINI - La Sonnambula, Amina
DONIZETTI - Don Pasquale, Norina
DONIZETTI - Lucia di Lammermoor, Lucia
MOZART - Lucio Silla, Giunia 
POULENC - Les Dialogues des Carmelites, Constance 
RIMSKY-KORSAKOV - Le Coq d'Or, Shemakha
ROSSINI - Il Barbiere di Siviglia, Rosina
ROSSINI - Il Turco in Italia, Fiorilla
ROSSINI - Le Comte Ory, Adele
STRAUSS - Ariadne auf Naxos, Zerbinetta
STRAUSS - Der Rosenkavalier, Sophie
VERDI - Rigoletto, Gilda
VERDI - Un ballo in maschera, Oscar
  

Concert repertoire

BRAHMS - Requiem 
MAHLER - Symphony number 4 
MOZART - Concert arias: various/all very high ones 
MOZART - Mass in C minor, K. 427 
ORFF - Carmina Burana 
STRAUSS - Songs with Orchestra

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Video

  • New BELLINI
    'Casta Diva' from 'Norma'

Press

Grand Celebration Concert, Athens

Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center

Grand Celebration Marks Handing the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center to the State.

A large celebration, open to all, marked the completion of the delivery of the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) to its permanent owner, the Greek State and, by extension, to the Greek society, the citizens and daily visitors of the SNFCC.

During this special moment in the project’s progress, thousands of people actively participated in the day’s events and happenings, confirming, through their presence, that the SNFCC belongs to all. The official delivery ceremony was attended by the country’s political and state leadership, foreign ambassadors, friends of the SNF, SNFCC Members and a large crowd of people, who arrived in order to be a part of this special day.

The event opened with the screening of a short video on the history of the SNFCC, and was followed by speeches by the President of the Hellenic Republic, Mr. Prokopis Pavlopoulos, Co-President and Director of the SNF, Mr. Andreas Dracopoulos and the Prime Minister, Mr. Alexis Tsipras. Following the speeches, the Minister of Finance, Mr. Euclid Tsakalotos, along with the SNF’s Chief Financial Officer, Mrs. Christina Lambropoulou, signed the agreement transferring SNFCC SA’s only share to the Greek State by means of a gift, on the stage of the packed Stavros Niarchos Hall.

The event was marked with the appearance of internationally renowned soprano Sumi Jo, who performed the famous aria Casta Diva from Bellini’s opera, Norma as well as onstage performances, video screenings, events in all corners of the SNFCC, smaller and larger artistic groups, all which composed a free festival — open to all.

The event also featured the Ballet, the Children’s Choir and the Adult Choir of the Greek National Opera, the ERT National Symphony Orchestra, Natassa Bofiliou, Alkinoos Ioannidis and the Baroque Ensemble, the Lyceum Club of Greek Women, George Kontrafouris on piano, street dancers, skaters and roller bladers, alongside video screenings of readings by famous actors, curated by the National Library of Greece. The artistic program was under the direction of Thomas Moschopoulos.

The evening was concluded with a unique party featuring fireworks, music and dancing, at the SNFCC’s Agora.

Kerry Kolasa-Sikiaridi, Greek Reporter, 27 February 2017

New York Philharmonic's Chinese New Year Concert

David Geffen Hall, New York

"The marquee star of the evening, Korean soprano Sumi Jo certainly supplied celebrity glamour, bringing her beaming, supple soprano to a range of showy repertoire. She gave a bravura performance of the dizzying variations on “Ah! vous dirai-je, Maman” from Adolphe Adam’s Le Toréador, cutting through the daunting runs with clear, firm coloratura, while principal flutist Robert Langevin matched her with a virtuoso turn of his own."

"Jo’s most convincing work came in her trio of Chinese songs. The folk song “A little path” was earnestly realized, maintaining a simple, unassuming innocence even over an accompaniment that could have come from a Richard Rodgers love-song. Huang Zi’s “Three Rose Wishes,” meanwhile, proved strikingly Schumannesque, featuring a direct, pining, striving melody over cushioned strings. Li Qingzhu’s “I Live Beside the Yangtze River” offered vivid ripples from a harp, with delicate pulses in the orchestra. Jo handled all of these with sensitive artistry"

Eric C. Simpson, New York Classical Review, 1 February 2017

Concerts with Hawaii Symphony Orchestra: 24, 25, 27 October 2015

Neal Blaisdell Center, Honolulu

Korean soprano Sumi Jo wowed her audience at the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra concert on Saturday, transforming a quietly polite audience into an enthusiastic crowd of fans, their cries of “Brava!” and “Encore!” echoing through the hall in an extended standing ovation.

Sumi Jo is a memorable, flamboyant performer. Each of her four entries elicited gasps of appreciation for her glittering gowns, stunning confections of gold and silver, soft pastels, sparkling reds and white, accented with dramatic ribbons and sashes.

She began the evening quietly in manner, but by the end proved to be quite the entertainer – dancing with the conductor, acting out songs, arranging people on stage and inviting the audience to join in.

In a masterfully constructed program, Sumi Jo presented some of the greatest hits – and some of the most challenging arias – composed for her vocal type, a very light lyric coloratura. The arias chosen suited her voice perfectly, culminating in the show-stopping “Doll Song” from “Tales of Hoffmann.” It was pure joy to hear a beautifully trained voice deliver such difficult works with ease and grace.

Sumi Jo’s voice is clear, warm, and exceptionally flexible, leaping throughout her range, ornamenting notes with high trills and tight vibratos. For some climaxes, she sang higher, alternate notes in passages that are already stratospheric.

In the eternal trade-off between diction and clarity of tone, Sumi Jo leaned toward clarity of tone and was at her absolute best in passages of wordless vocalizing that gave her voice free rein to revel in pure sound.

Two selections were duets with mezzo-soprano Maya Hoover, of the music department at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Both duets were lovely, and Delibes’ “Flower Duet” from “Lakmé” was one of the evening’s highlights.

Sumi Jo’s and Hoover’s voices matched perfectly, of similar weight and different but compatible timbres, one brighter, the other darker. Every note, every phrase were synchronized, and their voices allowed each line to remain distinct while melding into perfectly balanced harmony. Truly outstanding.

Under the direction of Mexican American conductor Jorge Mester, the Hawaii Symphony Orchestra sounded wonderful, attaining new peaks in quality. Thoughtfully shaped phrases reflected Mester’s lifetime experience with conducting and delivered a consistently transparent texture so that even inner lines remained clear.

Mester maintained an exceptionally well-balanced sound, not only in delicate passages and passionate climaxes, but also between orchestra and singer, ensuring Sumi Jo’s every note could be heard and offering support without ever obscuring.

Each of Mester’s interpretations was a treat: Tchaikovsky’s “Polonaise” felt like dancing, Saint-Saens’ “Bacchanale” was exuberant without becoming raucous, and Strauss’ waltzes sounded Viennese.

It was also a delight to hear the orchestra showcase its soloists: concertmaster Ignace Jang (violin), Scott Janusch and Ryan Klein (both oboe), Lindsay Edwards (English horn), James Moffitt (clarinet), Paul Barrett (bassoon), Mark Votapek (cello), and especially Susan McGinn (flute) in a lovely duet with Sumi Jo, a set of virtuosic variations on “Ah! Vous dirai-je Maman” (better known as “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”).

Sumi Jo ended the evening with two encores, including one commemorating the 65th anniversary of the Korean War and hoping for reunification in the future.
If you have not yet heard Sumi Jo, don’t miss the opportunity – it’s a great concert.

Ruth Bingham, Star Advertiser, 25 October 2015

Opera News, May 2014

Hamburg State Opera

Bellini

Norma

CD, DECCA

"Cuts made early in the work's performing history are opened up, and voice types approximating to those of the first cast are deployed. So Norma (Cecilia Bartoli) has a darker tone than Adalgisa (Sumi Jo), while a lyric, rather than a dramatic tenor – John Osborn – sings Pollione. Its principal revelations lie in the orchestral sound, stark and abrasive rather than comfortingly smooth, Giovanni Antonini's urgent conducting, and, above all, in Jo's immensely touching depiction of ruined innocence." The Guardian, Tim Ashley, 13 June 2013
"[Jo] is probably the most convincing Adalgisa of my recent experience. The first recitative “Sgombra è la sacra selva” immediately establishes the character’s desperate confliction and fear and Jo’s sense of breathless dread takes the listener into her mental world. The following aria “Deh! Proteggimi, o Dio” is sung with gentle sweetness but doesn’t downplay the agony...Jo eloquently shows her character helpless to resist the charms of her seducer but remains racked with guilt...Jo’s blank horror on “Che ascolto!” is moving indeed"...Jo’s contrasting gentle response “Mira, o Norma” leads into the duet acknowledged as one of the pearls of bel canto and both artists are at their best here." Opera Brittania, 24 May 2013

Nixon in China - Madame Mao

Chatelet Theatre

Nixon in China, Madame Mao - Chatelet Theatre
"rigorously executed and superbly acted...Sumi Jo’s Madame Mao patrols her space and fires off the top notes."

Financial Times, April 2012

Recital

Roy Thompson Hall

"Jo is a coloratura. Her appearance on Friday was very much an evening of high-flying pyrotechnic display, whether baroque or buffo. One showpiece followed another. And another.
A lesser singer would have bored us silly with all this brilliance and accuracy, but Jo is expert enough at shading notes and shaping phrases to keep the skeptical ear engaged. Charles Gounod’s Sérénade was particularly rich compendium of smartly rolled trills and lines given just the right (and natural) bend of vibrato.
She could sing with pathos, too, in O quante volte from Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi. Two Korean items brought out a dramatic heft not normally equated with coloraturas. The two final numbers, the Doll Song from The Tales of Hoffmann (Offenbach) and Sempre libera from La Traviata (Verdi), offered a striking illustration of Jo’s capacity to darken her voice on demand..."


Washington National Post, April 2011

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Recordings

Norma

A new period-instrument recording of Bellini's tragic opera with Cecilia Bartoli as Norma and Sumi Jo as Adalgisa.

In collaboration with Giovanni Antonini, Riccardo Minasi and Maurizio Biondi, Cecilia Bartoli restores the sound and spirit of Norma in a recording based on the opera's original sources. Sumi Jo, John Osborn and Michele Pertusi respectively sing the roles of Adalgisa, Pollione and Oroveso. Antonini conducts the Orchestra La Scintilla.
Decca