Sumi Jo, 2010
November 22, 1962 |
Seoul, South Korea
|Occupation||Lyric coloratura soprano|
|Revised Romanization||Jo Sumi|
|Revised Romanization||Jo Sugyeong|
Early life and education
Jo was born Jo Su-gyeong in Seoul, South Korea. Her mother was an amateur singer and pianist who had been unable to pursue her own professional music studies due to the political situation in Korea during the 1950s. Determined to provide her daughter with opportunities she never had, Jo's mother enrolled her in piano lessons at the age of 4 and later voice lessons at the age of 6. As a child, Jo would often spend up to eight hours a day studying music.
In 1976, Jo entered the Sun Hwa Arts School from which she graduated in 1980 with diplomas in voice and piano. She continued her music studies at Seoul National University from 1981 to 1983. While studying at SNU, Jo made her professional recital debut, appeared in several concerts with the Korean Broadcasting System, and made her professional operatic debut as Susanna in The Marriage of Figaro with Seoul Opera.
In 1983, Jo decided to leave SNU in order to study music in Italy at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome. Among her teachers there were Carlo Bergonzi and Giannella Borelli. While Jo studied in Italy, she was frequently heard in concert in Italian cities and on national radio broadcasts and telecasts. It was during this time when Jo decided to use "Sumi" as her stage name in order to make her name more friendly to European language speakers who often found it difficult to pronounce Su-gyeong. She graduated in 1985 with a concentration in keyboard as well as voice.
Following graduation, Jo began to study voice with Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and won several international competitions in Seoul, Naples, Enna, Barcelona, and Pretoria. In August 1986, she was unanimously awarded first prize in the Carlo Alberto Cappelli International Competition in Verona, one of the world's most important contests, open only to first-prize winners of other major competitions.
In 1986, Jo made her European operatic debut as Gilda in Verdi's Rigoletto at the Teatro Comunale Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste. This performance drew the attention of Herbert von Karajan, who proceeded to cast her as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera opposite Plácido Domingo for the 1989 Salzburg Festival. Karajan's death during festival rehearsals prevented Jo from actually singing on stage under his baton (Georg Solti conducted the performances) but she did sing under Karajan in the studio recording of Ballo, made in the early months of 1989 for Deutsche Grammophon.
In 1988, Jo made her La Scala debut as Thetis in Jommelli's Fetonte. That same year she made her debut with the Bavarian State Opera and sang Barbarina in The Marriage of Figaro at the Salzburg Festival.
In 1989, Jo made her debut with the Vienna State Opera and returned to the Salzburg Festival to sing Oscar in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera. That same year, she made her debut with the Metropolitan Opera, once again portraying Gilda in Rigoletto. Jo would later reprise this role numerous times with the Met over the next fifteen years.
In 1990, Jo made her debut with the Chicago Lyric Opera as the Queen of the Night in Mozart's The Magic Flute. The following year, she returned to the Metropolitan Opera for another performance as Oscar in Un ballo in maschera and made her Royal Opera, Covent Garden, debut as Olympia in The Tales of Hoffmann. She returned to Covent Garden the next year to sing Adina in L'elisir d'amore and Elvira in I puritani.
In 1993, Jo appeared in the title role of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor with the Metropolitan Opera and sang the role of the Queen of the Night at the Salzburg Festival and Covent Garden. The following year she made her debut with Los Angeles Opera as Sophie in Strauss' Der Rosenkavalier. In 1995 she sang the role of Countess Adèle in Le comte Ory at the Aix-en-Provence Festival.
Over the next decade Jo maintained a busy schedule, singing Lucia in Strasbourg, Barcelona, Berlin, and Paris; La sonnambula in Brussels and Santiago, Chile; I Capuleti e i Montecchi with Minnesota Opera; Olympia in New York; Rosina in New York; the Queen of the Night in Los Angeles; Gilda in Bilbao, Oviedo, Bologna, Trieste, and Detroit among others; Il turco in Italia in Spain; L'enfant et les sortilèges in Boston and Pittsburgh; Le comte Ory in Rome; and Dinorah in New York. She also appeared in performances at the Théâtre du Châtelet, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, Opéra National de Paris, Washington Opera, the Deutsche Oper Berlin, Opera Australia, and the Teatro Colón.
In addition, she appeared with numerous symphony orchestras in concert, including the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Cincinnati Pops, the Orchestra of St. Luke's, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra among others. Her work led her to sing under such conductors as Sir Georg Solti, Zubin Mehta, Lorin Maazel, James Levine, Kent Nagano, and Richard Bonynge. She also gave recitals throughout Europe, the United States, Canada, and Australia.
In 2007, Jo performed her first Violetta in La traviata with the Toulon Opera and in the 2008/2009 season she was scheduled to perform the role of Zerline in Fra Diavolo at the Opera Comique and Opéra Royal de Wallonie.
In 2011 Sumi Jo provided the voice of 'Veda Pierce' in the HBO miniseries 'Mildred Pierce'.
Her grandma had a superstition if Sumi knocks something, any bad fortune would go away. Although Sumi's family lived in a rented property, her parents bought a piano for her to play. Her mother raised and trained Sumi strictly. Sumi recalled even when her mother went out; she locked the door outside so that Sumi couldn't play hooky.
She had studied music with a scholarship in Seonwha Arts Junior-High School and Seonwha Arts High School for six years, and marked the highest score in the history of Seoul National University (SNU) entrance exam, for her vocal performance.
On the Korean talk show Golden Fishery: Knee-drop Guru, she recalled that the first two years of Seoul National University was the most unique time of her life. She had not studied and felt in love for the first time. In the interview, she said that she could not even afford to buy a ticket to Italy, but there was an unexpected income to her family later. She had only $300 when she went to Italy to pursue further music study. While there, she slept only four hours a day to study Italian language and music, and tutored to earn money to keep studying in Italy. She once fainted on the Italian streets, and later was diagnosed with anaemia.
Just before she performed Ave Maria at Chatelet, Paris, in 2006, Jo's father, Enho Jo, died. When she learned that her father had died, she wanted to cancel the performance and return to Korea for the funeral. Her mother reminded Jo of her promise to her audiences, and said that it was better if she went on with the show in honor of her father. Her performance was dedicated to her father and released as a DVD titled Sumi Jo in Paris – For my Father
She has been claimed as "a voice from above" by Maestro Herbert von Karajan. Jo is an advocate for animal rights and one of only five Asian celebrities to make People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals Asia-Pacific's (PETA) first-ever Best-Dressed 2008 list. In an interview with a Korean newspaper, she said if she had the second life, she would like to have an ordinary woman's life as a wife of a man.
Sumi Jo has over 50 recordings to her credit, including ten solo albums for Erato Records, the French division of Warner Classics. These recordings include complete operas, oratorio, operetta, orchestral works and Broadway standards. Notable recordings include the voice of the falcon in Sir Georg Solti's Grammy Award winning recording of Strauss' Die Frau ohne Schatten for the Decca label and the role of Oscar the page in Herbert von Karajan's recording of Verdi's Un ballo in maschera for Deutsche Grammophon.
- Carnaval! French Coloratura Arias, Decca (November 15, 1994)
- Compilation – Best Of Sumi Jo, Decca (February 4, 2009)
- Compilation – Art of Sumi Jo, Decca (August 11, 1998)
Erato – Warner Classics
- Bel Canto, Arias from Semiramide, La sonnambula, Falstaff, I puritani, I Capuleti e i Montecchi, Linda di Chamounix, Tancredi, Crispino e la comare, La traviata. English Chamber Orchestra, Giuliano Carella. Erato (September 16, 1997)
- Sumi Jo Sings Mozart, Erato (October 1, 1996)
- Live at Carnegie Hall, St Luke's Orchestra, Richard Bonynge, Erato
- Baroque Journey – arias by Vivaldi, Purcell, Handel, Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra. Erato (November 13, 2007)
- Virtuoso Arias: from Il Barbiere di Siviglia, La sonnambula, Lakmé, Rigoletto, Dinorah, Lucia di Lammermoor, Ariadne auf Naxos, Candide, Korean song "Boribat" (barley field 보리밭). Monte Carlo Orchestra, Paolo Olmi. Erato (February 7, 1995)
- The Christmas Album, Alessandro Scarlatti: Cantata pastorale per la nascita di Nostro Signore. Christoph Bernhard: Fürchtet euch nicht! Mozart Exsultate, jubilate K165. Cappella Coloniensis of the WDR on historical instruments. Erato (September 18, 2001)
- Prayers, Erato (March 20, 2001)
- Only Love, musicals Miss Saigon etc. Erato (April 11, 2000)
- Johann Strauss Echoes from Vienna Erato (November 9, 1999)
- Les Bijoux – French Arias, Roméo et Juliette "Je veux vivre", Faust (L'air des Bijoux) "Ah! Je ris de me voir si belle en ce miroir!", Mignon "Oui, pour ce soir, je suis reine des fées". L'étoile du nord "C'est bien l'air que chaque matin". Hamlet "À vos jeux, mes amis". Louise "Depuis le jour". Mireille "O légère hirondelle". Les Huguenots "O beau pays de la Touraine". Manon "Obéissons quand leur voix appelle". Les pêcheurs de perles "Me voilà seule". Robinson Crusoé "Conduisez-moi vers celui". ECO, Giuliano Carella, Erato (August 3, 1999)
- La Promessa – Italian Songs, Erato (September 15, 1998)
- Sumi Jo The Erato Recitals (10 CDs) Erato (January 31, 2012)
- The Sumi Jo Collection Warner Bros UK (January 18, 2010)
- Sumi Jo 101: Favorite Crossover and Classics (6CDs) Warner Music Korea (2007)
- With Love: Best 20 Songs of Sumi Jo (2 CDs) Warner Music Korea (2006)
- My Story (2 CDs) Erato/Warner Music Korea (2002) including a vocal version of "Love is just a Dream," from non-vocal version was in MBC drama "Hotelier" O.S.T. (2001).
Universal Korea – Deutsche Gramophon Korea
- Missing You – songs of the world – Universal Korea DG (August 10, 2010)
- Ich liebe Dich – German lieder – Universal Korea DG (August 17, 2010)
- Libera – Universal Korea, DG (2011)
- single "Hijo de la Luna" (sung in Spanish but entitled "Son of the moon", 달의 아들) (2011, Universal Korea)
- Sumi Jo with Tomomi Nishimoto in concert CD and DVD
Korean local labels
- Ari Arirang – Italian arias and Korean songs – London Philharmonic, Stephan von Cron (1995, worldwide release 1998, Samsung Music)
- Saeya Saeya (새야 새야) Italian arias and Korean songs. The Korean Symphony, Nanse Gum (1994, Samsung Music)
- Compilation Jo Sumi – Her first purely Korean folk album – Hyangsu (조수미 – 그녀의 첫번째 순수 한국가곡집 – 향수) 20 Korean tracks only, from two previous Korean albums. [鄕愁] (2002, E&E Media)
- Verdi: Un ballo in maschera with Plácido Domingo, Jean-Luc Chaignaud, Josephine Barstow, Florence Quivar. Vienna Philharmonic, Vienna State Opera Chorus. Herbert von Karajan. DGG 1989.
- Adolphe Adam: Le toréador, Richard Bonynge, Decca (March 17, 1998)
- Daniel François Esprit Auber: Le Domino Noir. Richard Bonynge (2 CDs) Decca (April 9, 1996)
- Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, Solti. Decca
- Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, with Franz-Joseph Selig, Gösta Winbergh, and Luba Orgonasova. Armin Jordan Erato
- Queen of the Night in Die Zauberflöte, with Kurt Streit, Barbara Bonney Drottningholm Court Theatre Orchestra, Arnold Östman. L'Oiseau Lyre
- Zerbinetta in R. Strauss: Ariadne Auf Naxos (original 1912 version), Kent Nagano. Virgin Classics (1997) This was the first recording of 1912 original version of R. Strauss and required Sumi JO hit the F#6 note in Zerbinetta's aria.
- Offenbach: Les Contes d'Hoffmann with Roberto Alagna, Natalie Dessay, and José van Dam. Kent Nagano. Erato
- Rossini: Le Comte Ory with Diana Montague, Gilles Cachemaille, Gino Quilico, Nicolas Rivenq, John Aler. Orchestre et Choeur de l'Opéra de Lyon John Eliot Gardiner, Philips.
- Rossini: Il Turco in Italia with Simone Alaimo, Sir Neville Marriner, Philips.
- Rossini: Tancredi with Ewa Podleś. Alberto Zedda. Naxos
Guest performances and film music
- Kenny G 'Rhythm & Romance' Featuring with Sumi Jo – Mirame Bailar
- MBC epic drama "Ju-mong" O.S.T. (2006) Sumi Jo – A Memory of Love
- KBS drama "The Lost Empire" O.S.T. (2 CDs) Doremi, Korea (2001.12.03) Sumi Jo - If I Leave
- MBC drama "Hu-jun" O.S.T. (1999) Sumi Jo – Elegy of Separation (Bulinbeolgok)
- Wojciech Kilar, vocalise for the soundtrack of the 1999 film The Ninth Gate.
- Cover version of the title song of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 2010 musical Love Never Dies.
- Several of Sumi Jo's recordings were used as the character Veda's singing voice in the 2011 HBO miniseries version of Mildred Pierce. She recorded new tracks specifically for the film, including the "Bridal Chorus" from Wagner's Lohengrin and the popular standard "I'm Always Chasing Rainbows."
- DVD "Sumi Jo in Paris – For my Father" (2006)
Awards and honors
- 2008 – Sumi Jo received the international Puccini Award
- 2008 – Sumi Jo sang at the International Olympic Games in Beijing
- 2006 Winner of the Proud Korean Award for Culture and Art
- 2005 7th Winner of KwanAk Award by Alumni Association of Seoul National University
- 2003 – Sumi Jo was elected as an "Artist for Peace" of UNESCO
- 2002 – Sumi Jo sang at the World Cup in Seoul, Korea
- 2002 18th Woman of the Year by Korea Women Committee
- 1997 Best Vocal Album by French Cultural Critics
- 1997 Winner of 5th KBS Overseas Korean Award
- 1996 Winner of 1st Korean-Chinese Youth Academic Award
- 1996 The Best Selling Album of the Year award by British Classic
- 1995 Decorated with the Order of Culture Merit, South Korea
- 1995 Grand prize winner of Women Dong-a by Dong-a Daily News, Seoul, South Korea
- 1994 Winner of Best Soprano, Chile
- 1994 Winner of Kim SuGeun Award for Performing Art, Seoul, South Korea
- 1993 Winner of La Siola d'Oro, Forli, Italy
- 1993 Winner of Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording (conducted by Sir Georg Solti, Deca label)
- 1992 Winner of Hong Nanpa Memorial Award
- August 1986 First prize in the Carlo Alberto Cappelli International Competition at Verona
- October 1986 Graduated with honors from the Santa Cecilia Conservatory
- 1986 Winner of Pretoria International Music Competitions, South Africa
- 1986 Winner of 'Francisco Viñas' International Singing Competition,Barcelona, Spain
- 1985 Winner of Viotti International Music Competition (Concorso Internazionale di Musica Viotti), Italy
- 1985 Winner of Sicily Enna International Musical Competition, Italy
- 1985 Winner of Napoli Zonta International Competition, Italy
- 1985 Winner of Viotti International Music Competition, Trieste, Italy (Concorso Internazionale di Musica Viotti)
- Wolf Artists: Sumi Jo
- Raphaelle Occhietti & William Sanger, Sumi Jo chante le bel canto (Le Polyscope, 12 October 2008)
- Sumi Jo: Devoted to Music
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- Biography for Sumi Jo – WindowsMedia.com Media Guide
- LA Phil Presents | About the Performer – Sumi Jo
- Deutsche Grammophon: www.deutschegrammophon.com
- Culture – Korean
- Metropolitan Opera Association
- Lyric Opera of Chicago: www.lyricopera.org
- "Sumi Jo with the VSO!" at LSM Newswire (4 January 2008)
- Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – The Concerts – Artist Bios
- 네이버 뉴스
- NO.1 뉴미디어 마이데일리
- 국내연예 뉴스 > 조수미무릎팍 '너무나도 혹독했던 피아노 연습?'
- 조수미, 아버지 장례식날 독창회 무대 올라 “어머니 서운했다” – 손에 잡히는 뉴스 눈에 보이는 뉴스 – 뉴스엔
- Korean soprano Sumi Jo designated UNESCO Artist for Peace – UNESCO Celebrity Advocates | UNESCO.org
- PETA Asia-Pacific | Media Resources | Recent News Releases | Su-Mi Jo Makes PETA's Exclusive Best-Dressed List
- Strauss: Ariadne Auf Naxos, Etc / Nagano, Price, Jo, Et Al | ArkivMusic
- Yahoo! Groups
- David Ng (2011). "The Operatic Highs and Lows of Mildred Pierce". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 19, 2011.
- 조수미 “오 사랑하는 나의 아버지” 앙코르 ‘눈물의 사부곡’ :: 네이버 뉴스
- Top Operatic Singers from the World Greet Olympic Guests-Olympics-China News-News-English-东北新闻网
- ESPNsoccernet.com World Cup 2002: Hiddink: Koreans closing the gap