Sumi Jo


Known for her thrilling coloratura soprano voice, Sumi Jo is one of the great singers of her generation. Her repertoire consists of most of the well known coloratura parts including 'Lucia di Lammermoor', 'I Puritani', 'La Sonnambula' and in particular she was renowned for her interpretations of Zerbinetta in 'Ariadne auf Naxos' and the Queen of the Night in 'Die Zauberflote' - roles she has performed with many of the greatest conductors. Praised for the remarkable agility, precision and warmth of her voice, Sumi Jo continues to be consistently greeted with exceptional accolades, by public and press alike, for her performances in the most important opera houses and concert halls throughout the world.

Sumi has appeared at the world's famous opera houses, including the Metropolitan Opera, Opera National de Paris, Washington Opera, Deutsche Oper Berlin, and Hamburg State Opera. She has worked with such famous maestri as Sir Georg Solti, James Levine, Zubin Mehta, Herbert von Karajan, Kent Nagano and others. 

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

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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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  • New Years Concerts, Accademia Santa Cecilia, Rome, January 2014


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




"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


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



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.