Great soprano returns for two 'people's shows'Jessye Norman's majestic presence and dramatic voice say one thing: diva.
Ms. Norman, one of the world's most critically acclaimed opera singers, returns to Seoul on Wednesday and Dec. 7 to perform what have been called "the people's concerts." She will be singing the selections that were the most requested by Koreans during an online poll that was conducted in March. Her recitals will be staged at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall.
Ms. Norman is one of the world's most critically acclaimed opera singers, and a dedicated advocate of innovative programming of contemporary music.
Born in 1945 in Augusta, Georgia, Ms. Norman began singing in her family's Baptist church when she was 4. She studied music at Howard University, the Peabody Conservatory and the University of Michigan.
"She had all the tools -- she was intelligent, a keen musician and a voice with qualities you encounter few times in a generation," said one of her teachers, Willis Patterson, the associate dean and professor of music at the University of Michigan.
After winning the International Music Competition in Munich in the late 1960s, she received a host of offers to sing in Europe. Her professional debut was at the Deutsche Opera Berlin as Elizabeth in Richard Wagner's "Tannhauser" in 1969.
Ms. Norman made a well-received debut in South Korea in 2001, prompting her decision to return this year.
Her two Seoul concerts will differ greatly in style from each other. The first will feature classical music, the second jazz.
For Wednesday's show, Ms. Norman will be singing Beethoven's "Six Songs After Poetry," Alban Berg's "Night," "Nightingale" and "Summertime," Maurice Ravel's "Serenade," "Asia" and "Indifferent," and seven selections from Hugo Wolf's "Italian Songbook."
Thursday's performance will feature such jazz standards as Leonard Bernstein's "Somewhere," George Gershwin's "Love Walked In," "But Not for Me" and "I've Got Rhythm," Duke Ellington's "It Don't Mean a Thing If It Ain't Got That Swing," "Sophisticated Lady," "Chelsea Bridge," "Meditation" and "Praise God and Dance."
Ms. Norman will be accompanied by Mark Markham on the piano, Ira Coleman on the string bass and Grady Tate on percussion.
The Soprano Jessye Norman Recital is at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday and Dec. 7 at the Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall. The tickets cost between 40,000 won and 140,000 won ($35-110). For reservations or more information, call (02) 580-1300 or (02)780-6400.
by Inēs Cho