Voted as one of the best-dressed opera singers, Sumi Jo, a soprano, brought five glamorous outfits for her performance at the Benaroya Hall. On three occasions, I saw three elaborate costumes, all sparkling with beads and sequins, which matched her dazzling jewelry and shiny eye shadow.
Behind the glamor and success, Grammy-award winner Jo has paid a personal price. At 48, Jo is still single. Born in Korea, she now lives in Rome.
“She is married to her music,” said Chang Mok Song, a fan. Her agent, who accompanied her to Seattle, said, “She is too busy.” Too busy to date or maybe she has high expectations?
On Jan. 12, at Sherman Clay Pianos, Jo told an audience of close to 100 that she doesn’t eat any chocolate, cold foods, or deep-fried foods.
That means no ice cream, milkshakes, refrigerated juices, deli meats, seafood cocktails, or salads.
Absolutely no smoking or drinking alcohol is allowed because they would instantly kill her voice.
No wonder Jo’s songbird voice doesn’t match her tiny body. I feel like 90 percent of the sopranos who are non-Asians are overweight. I had to get used to seeing Jo, who is Asian, stylish, and performs so splendidly with a thunderous voice, nailing all the high notes perfectly. And yes, she has to watch the number of meals and portions she eats every day, she said.
Jo knows six languages including Korean, German, French, Italian, Russian, and English. Many of her teachers were Italians. She has studied music since she was 4 years old.
This is Jo’s second visit to Seattle. The Seattle Symphony Orchestra (SSO) won’t disclose the amount of money paid for Jo’s performance, but they revealed that she had to reduce her fee to accommodate SSO’s budget. ♦