Youngmi Kim

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Youngmi Kim
Born (1954-11-06) November 6, 1954 (age 62)
Daegu, South Korea
Alma mater
Occupation Opera singer
Korean name
Hangul 김영미
Revised Romanization Gim Yeong-mi
McCune–Reischauer Kim Yŏngmi

Youngmi Kim (born November 6, 1954) is a South Korean soprano opera singer.[1][2] She was born in Daegu, South Korea. She is a famous vocalist who has sung in operas and concerts internationally and has appeared on television shows, primarily in South Korea.


Kim graduated from Yewon Middle School and Seoul Arts High School and continued her education at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, where she received her bachelor's degree. In 1973, she entered the Santa Cecilia Conservatory of Music in Rome, Italy. There, Kim studied with Professor Jolanda Magnoni, a renowned prima donna, and received her master's degree in 1979.[3][4]


Kim comes from a family with a long history in music. Her maternal grandfather (Ahn Ki-yong) was the first Korean musician trained at a conservatory in the United States, and his operas (Kong-jui Pat-jui and Kyonwu-Jiknyo) were the first and the second Western-style operas ever written and produced in Korea.[5]


Having studied in Rome, Kim acquired superb training in Italian operatic works and was the first singer of Korean birth to enter the Verona and Puccini Competitions. Even before finishing her education, she performed in her first complete opera, in the role of Violetta in Verdi's La traviata, at the National Theater of Seoul in 1977, and in 1978 she performed the role of Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème, at the Sejong Cultural Center in Seoul. Recognized for her beautiful voice at an early age, Kim has been the recipient of many awards. She won the Maria Callas International Competition in 1980 and the Luciano Pavarotti Competition in 1981.[6][7] The same year, she gave her American debut recital at the Lincoln Center in New York. In 1982, she performed in Philadelphia in Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore ("The Elixir of Love") opposite Pavarotti, who performed the role of Nemorino.[8][9] Throughout the 1980s, Ms. Kim performed in numerous roles in the US. She held the title the role of Cio-Cio San in Puccini's Madama Butterfly with the Hawaii Opera Theater in March 1985[10] and in Los Angeles in October 1986.[11]

As a member of the New York City Opera, Kim appeared as Mimi in Puccini's La Bohème.[12] Other appearances include those at the Bastille Opera, the National Symphony in Washington DC, and the LA Philharmonic. She was also in Hawaii University’s Gentio fundraising recital in 1995 and musical Academy Kijiahna Festival in 1996. In March 1997, she performed the role of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello. In 1998, she was in Rome’s Santa Cecilia Orchestra Opera for Matan’s Shooter and Tokyo at the New National Opera stage performing La traviata. She was also in Korea that year in August performing in the play Hwang Jin Yi and others. Once, she played the top and main character of Madama Butterfly in the San Diego Opera Stage.

She is now a professor at Korea National University of Arts.[13]

Voice and musicality[edit]

Kim is a soprano specializing in the Italian bel canto tradition of operatic singing. Because of her remarkable voice, her grounding in the Italian repertoire, and her pioneering role as a musician of Asian descent accomplished in the Western art music tradition, Young-mi Kim has been called, "the Maria Callas of the East". A master of messa di voce through superb breath control, she is also highly regarded for her musical accuracy and her tonal consistency throughout an extensive vocal range. In opera and concert performances, her musical mastery has been recognized both for its extraordinary power and richness along with the professionalism of her gentle stage manners.


Kim has released three solo albums and one book. Her albums are called 'Lullaby', 'Lullaby 2' and 'The world's most beautiful songs'. Her first album Lullaby sold 70,000 copies upon its release in 1995 and was followed by a second volume in 1998. Other albums that include her performances are, 'Most popular Christian songs in Korea', 'Four Composers', 'Beautiful art songs', and 'World famous songs no. 1'. 'Yearning', 'Footprints', 'Lovely Deer' and 'Love' are a few of her songs.


In 1977, Kim won the first prize at the Verona International Competition in Italy. In 1979, she won the first prize at Giacomo Puccini Contest, and in 1980, she was ranked one of the six best singers at Maria Callas Concours. In 1981, she won the first prize at Luciano Pavarotti Concours. Also, she received awards in the 10th Korean Schubert Lieder Competition and the Emelie Dieterle Award. In 2003, she was chosen as a finalist in the International Baroque Singing Competition of Chimay, Belgium.[3][14]


In 2010, Kim published a book entitled Just like Kim Youngmi, prima donna. In this autobiography, she describes how she overcame her loneliness when she was studying abroad. She recalls difficult moments throughout her life and how she endured them. She also introduces her own vocal techniques within the book.


  1. ^ International Who's Who in Classical Music. Routledge. 2003. p. 865. ISBN 978-1-85743-174-2. 
  2. ^ "Young Mi Kim as Cio-Cio". Los Angeles Times. October 13, 1986. p. 6. 
  3. ^ a b 네이버 책 :: 네이버는 책을 사랑합니다. (in Korean). Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  4. ^ "Apollo's Cabinet Guest Artists". Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  5. ^ Choong-sik Ahn, The Story of Western Music in Korea: A Social History, 1885-1950, eBookstand, 2005, pp. 46-48; 87 and fn. 8.
  6. ^ Samuel Singer, "A Giant and 19 Smaller in Stature," The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 24, 1981, Page B01
  7. ^ See also, "The Scene," The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 14, 1981, Page B02
  8. ^ See "Pavarotti Will Sing With Contest Winners," New York Times, April 18, 1982
  9. ^ page 120, May 7, 1982
  10. ^
  11. ^ See John Voland, "Young Mi Kim As Cio-cio San," Los Angeles Times, October 13, 1986
  12. ^ See "City Opera Undertakes 5-Week 'Bohème' Tour," New York Times, February 3, 1984
  13. ^
  14. ^ 김영미 :: 네이버 인물검색 (in Korean). Retrieved 2010-12-14.