Hei Kyung Hong


 Recent news about Hei Kyung Hong

 Hei Kyung Hong's Early life

Hong was born in Gangwon , South Korea, and studied at Yea Won Music School in Seoul . Through scholarships she went to the United States alone at age 15 to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and its American Opera Center. While at Juilliard, she appeared in a number of productions with the American Opera Center. At the Juilliard School of Music she also participated in the master classes of Tito Gobbi , Elisabeth Schwarzkopf , Walter Legge , and Gérard Souzay . She later studied voice privately with Shirlee Emmons . She was one of four young singers invited to attend Herbert von Karajan 's opera classes at the 1983 Salzburg Festival .

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 Hei Kyung Hong's Career

As a winner of the 1982 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions , she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Servilia in Mozart 's operaLa clemenza di Titoon November 17, 1984. Beginning with minor roles such as the Celestial Voice inDon Carlo, Virgin inSamsonand Barbarina inLe nozze di Figaro, she got to sing a major role for the first time at the Met – Mimì inLa bohèmeon January 7, 1987. Since then, she has gradually moved into main roles such as Susanna inLe nozze di Figaro, Adina inL'elisir d'amore, and Gilda inRigoletto. Since the mid-1990s she has specialized in more lyric roles including Liù inTurandotand Countess Almaviva inLe nozze di Figaro.

Like many non-Italian and non-German singers, she has not been tied to operas of specific languages; her repertoire includes Italian (Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti), German (Handel, Mozart, Beethoven, Wagner) and French (Bizet, Gounod, Offenbach). But Mozart occupies the most important place in her repertoire; beside three roles inLe nozze di Figaro – Countess Almaviva (30 performances), Susanna (10 performances) and Barbarina (8 performances), she has sung Zerlina inDon Giovanni(29 performance), Despina inCosì fan tutte(14 performances), Servilia inLa clemenza di Tito(11 performances), Pamina inDie Zauberflöte(9 performances), and Ilia inIdomeneo(9 performances). Among the roles she has sung (but not at the Met), are the title role in Massenet'sManon, Musetta inLa bohème, Tatyana inEugene Oneginand Leila inLes pêcheurs de perles.

Although the Met has been her main stage since her debut, after giving birth to her third child she began to sing in Europe as well. She has sung at various opera houses including the Royal Opera House in London (as Mimì and Liù), Vienna State Opera (as Mimì), Bavarian State Opera in Munich (as Mimì), Opéra Bastille in Paris (as Liù, Countess Almaviva, Micaëla inCarmen), Verona Arena (as Micaëla), Rome Opera House (as Liù). On January 28, 2003, she made her debut at La Scala in Milan as Musetta inLa bohème. She returned to La Scala as Liù inTurandot(January 2004) and Mimì inLa bohème(June 2005).

On June 4, 2006, she sang Violetta inLa traviataat the Met, becoming the first Asian soprano to sing the role at the Met. And on March 1, 2007, she sang Eva inDie Meistersinger von Nürnbergat the Met for the first time. According to the Metropolitan Opera homepage, through September 2015, her most frequently sung role at the Met has been Mimì inLa bohème(64 performances), followed by Micaëla inCarmen(35 performances), Liù inTurandot(33 performances) and Countess Almaviva inLe nozze di Figaro(30 performances).

Hong also has wide experience in orchestral repertoire. She has sung Bach with Trevor Pinnock and the Montreal Symphony, and the conductor and composer Giuseppe Sinopoli wrote hisLou Salome Suitefor her, which they premiered together with the New York Philharmonic. She has appeared with the Boston Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, and many others under conductors such as Charles Dutoit, Mariss Jansons, Seiji Ozawa, André Previn, and Lorin Maazel, with whom she sang the final scene from Strauss'Daphnefor the Bayerische Rundfunk.

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 Hei Kyung Hong's Personal life

Hong is a Christian whose grandparents were elders at a Presbyterian church in the South Korean city of Gwangju.


Hong's husband was diagnosed with cancer in December 2007 and died in July 2008. Having cancelled her whole schedule at the time of his diagnosis to care for him, she was away from the stage for two years in mourning. She returned to the stage of the Met as Violetta inLa traviataon April 13, 2010. She currently lives in Queens , New York, with her three children.

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 Hei Kyung Hong's Repertoire at the Met

Hei-kyung Hong's career at the Met (updated through December 31, 2015):

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

  • Le nozze di Figaro: Countess Almaviva (30 performances), Susanna (10 performances), Barbarina (8 performances)
  • Don Giovanni: Zerlina (29 performances)
  • Così fan tutte: Despina (14 performances)
  • La clemenza di Tito: Servilia (11 performances)
  • Die Zauberflöte : Pamina (9 performances)
  • Idomeneo: Ilia (9 performances)

Giacomo Puccini

  • La bohème: Mimì (64 performances)
  • Turandot: Liù (33 performances)
  • Gianni Schicchi: Lauretta (5 performances)

Giuseppe Verdi

  • Don Carlo: Celestial Voice (26 performances)
  • La traviata: Violetta (13 performances) / Beside the 13 performances, she sang in 1 performance for Acts 2 and 3 only on April 21, 2012.
  • Rigoletto: Gilda (7 performances) / Besides the 7 performances, she sang in 1 performances for Act 1 only on January 4, 1991.

Georges Bizet

  • Carmen: Micaëla (35 performances)

Richard Wagner

  • Das Rheingold: Freia (10 performances)
  • Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg: Eva (4 performances)

Ludwig van Beethoven

  • Fidelio: Marzelline (12 performances)

George Frideric Handel

  • Samson: Virgin (8 performances)
  • Giulio Cesare : Cleopatra (1 performance)

John Corigliano

  • The Ghosts of Versailles: Rosina (6 performances)

Jacques Offenbach

  • Les contes d'Hoffmann: Antonia/Stella (4 performances)

Gaetano Donizetti

  • L'elisir d'amore: Adina (3 performances)

Charles Gounod

  • Roméo et Juliette: Juliette (9 performances)

She has also appeared at the Met in four concerts and two gala performances.

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 Hei Kyung Hong's References

  1. Will Crutchfield (March 12, 1989). "The Twain Are Meeting On the World's Opera Stages". The New York Times. 
  2. So-Chung Shinn (June 2007). "Making History". Opera News. 

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