Acclaimed for the remarkable agility, precision and warmth of her voice and for her outstanding musicianship, the Grammy Award-winning soprano Sumi Jo has established herself as one of most sought-after sopranos of our times. Described as a “Superstar” and “one of the best-loved sopranos of her generation” (CNN, Dec 2012), she has consistently found praise for her performances on the world’s most important opera and concert hall stages.
Following her musical studies at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, Sumi Jo became a winner of some of the most important singing competitions, including the Carlo Alberto Cappelli International Competition. Invitations to radio and television programs immediately followed. In 1989 she made a brilliant debut at the Salzburg Festival as Oscar in Un ballo in Maschera, marking the launch of a stellar career. In rapid succession, she began performing on all major opera stages including the New York Metropolitan Opera, the Milan Scala, the London Royal Opera House, the Opéra National and the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris, the Vienna State Opera, the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires and countless others.
Her domain lies in the great coloratura roles by Mozart, Rossini, Bellini, Donizetti, Meyerbeer, Delibes and Gounod, but also Violetta in La Traviata, Gilda in Rigoletto, Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann or Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos – roles with which she continues to set standards, enchanting audiences and press alike. Her vast repertoire further features Marie (La Fille du Regiment), Zerlina (Fra Diavolo), Elvira (I Puritani), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia) Juliette (Roméo et Juliette), Fiorilla (Il Turco in Italia), Rosina (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Jiang Qing (Nixon in China), Lucia (Lucia di Lammermoor), Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), La Comtesse Adele (Le Comte Ory), the Queen of the Night (Die Zauberflöte), Norina (Don Pasquale), the title role in Elisabetta, regina d’Inghilterra, Blondchen (Die Entführung aus dem Serail) and Sophie (Der Rosenkavalier). Further additions to her repertoire in more recent years have been Delibes’ Lakmé, Meyerbeer’s Dinorah and Giulietta in I Capuleti e i Montecchi.
Further to her international opera and concert activities, Sumi Jo is an admired cultural ambassador for her native country and she has been a star guest at a number of high-ranking social events in South Korea and the neighbouring countries in recent years. In 2011 she performed at the opening celebrations of the Winter Asian Games in Astana and Almaty in Kazakhstan and at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu. In 2013 she sang at the inauguration of President Park Geun-hye in Seoul and she was invited to a concert in the Vatican. In 2014 she performed at the closing ceremony of the Sotchi Olympic Games, as well as the opening of the Asia Games in Inchon and she was appointed Honorary Ambassador of the Republic of Korea in 2015 on the occasion of the country’s 70th anniversary of independence. In 2016 she played a guest role in the feature film YOUTH by Italian director Paolo Sorrentino and she performed the soundtrack song ‘Simple Song # 3’ which was nominated for a Golden Globe and an Oscar in the “best song” category. In 2017 and 2018 Sumi Jo acted as special ambassador for the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, undertook numerous promotional tours and sang the official song “Here as one” at the opening of the Paralympics. The following year, she performed at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. In 2019, she was also awarded the Ordine di Stella Italiana by the Italian President Sergio Mattarella for her commitment to the cultural exchange between Korea and Italy.
In recent years, Sumi Jo has been specializing in high-class gala concerts and concert tours with a unique mix of spectacular bel canto arias and crossover pieces. She regularly tours through Korea, Japan, China, America, and Eastern Europe accompanied by renowned orchestras. She has repeatedly performed at the Beijing Music Festival and the Mahler Festival in Shanghai, Carnegie Hall and in all other major Asian music centres – both solo and together with colleagues such as Renée Fleming, Dmitri Hvorostovsky or Roberto Alagna. She has also performed with pop stars including Sir Elton John, Steven Tyler or David Foster on multiple occasions.
Sumi Jo also serves as a jury member at renowned competitions such as BBC Singer of the world in Cardiff, the Queen Sonja singing competition in Oslo, the Hong Kong International Operatic Singing Competition and the Glyndebourne Opera Cup 2020. The promotion of young singers is of particular importance to her and in addition to her giving master classes such as at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Bogota, China and Australia, she initiated the founding of an international music school in her home town of Changwon scheduled to open in 2023.
Throughout her stellar career, Sumi Jo has appeared on countless television and radio broadcasts on every continent and she has recorded over 50 CD recordings, including ten solo albums, many of which have won international awards.