Soprano returns home for celebratory tour

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Soprano returns home for celebratory tour

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Soprano Shin Youngok will embark on a nationwide tour to ring in the new year. Provided by the organizer

Korea has three sopranos who have made quite a name for themselves in the world of opera: Hong Hei-kyung, Sumi Jo and Shin Youngok.

The three prima donnas have all had the honor of performing at the Metropolitan Opera in New York - Hong in 1984, Jo in 1989 and Shin in 1990.

For the 49-year-old Shin, this year is particularly special because it marks the 20th anniversary of her first performance at the Met.

In the ensuing years, she appeared regularly at the esteemed venue, as Gilda in “Rigoletto,” Lucia in “Lucia di Lammermoor,” Zerlina in “Don Giovanni,” Elvira in “I Puritani” and Adina in “L’Elisir d’Amore,” among others.

The Korean songbird hopes to celebrate the anniversary with her fans in Korea to start the new year. Starting this weekend, she will embark on a nationwide tour that will take her to places like Gyeonggi, Jinju, Busan, Seoul and Daegu, giving fans across the nation a chance to hear for themselves the singer critics have described as having the “voice of an angel.”

The tour represents Shin’s two worlds, her homeland of Korea and the Western world where she has so often performed.

“Shin will perform mostly arias that made her famous, but she will also sing the classical and traditional Korean songs that she recorded on her latest album,” said Cha Su-jeong, a manager with the concert organizer.

Last November, Shin released an album, “Songs of My Heart,” featuring gagok, or classical Korean songs. Music critics in Korea who lament that people rarely listen to gagok these days, are likely to appreciate the album. Gagok is a mixture of emotional and poetic lyrics accompanied by classical instruments. It embodies a spirit that is unique to Koreans, but the genre began to disappear in the mid-20th century due to the influx of Western music.

Shin is known to be a proponent of gagok, and she frequently sings a piece or two when she performs abroad. She has said that whenever she felt homesick or lonely in the past, she would quietly sing the classical Korean songs or hymns that she has sung since she was a little girl.

Born in Seoul in 1961, Shin started singing at the age of four. She also learned to dance when she was young, a skill that critics say enhances her performances.

A graduate of the Juilliard School of Music, Shin auditioned for the Metropolitan Opera in 1990 and was accepted. She was a member of the world-famous opera company until 2006. She has also appeared in world-renowned venues such as the Royal Opera in London’s Covent Garden, Opera National de Paris in France and the Cologne Opera in Germany, among others.

Shin Youngok’s New Year’s Grand Tour starts this Saturday at Goyang Aram Nuri Arts Center in Goyang, Gyeonggi. Until Feb. 5, the soprano will perform at venues in 10 regions across Korea, including her Jan. 29 concert at the Seoul Arts Center in the capital. For more information about the tour, call the organizer at (02) 529-1923. For reservations, call 1588-7890 or visit www.ticketlink.co.kr.

By Kim Hyung-eun [hkim@joongang.co.kr]


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