Historically, Chinese and Japanese Americans have dominated the spotlight in performances. At the Celebrate Asia! concert, however, it was a Korean opera singer who brought down Benaroya Hall last Friday. And can you believe this? Their amazing performance was the result of only two rehearsals.
Not everyone was happy with her performance though. Maybe this is because some do not know how to appreciate opera.
Sumi Jo, a world-renowned soprano and star of the show, gave several encores and received the loudest cheers from the audience. I bet the largest Asian ethnic group in the audience were Korean Americans that evening. Jo was entertaining, funny, and cute. Her Korean fans, who have seen her on Korean television, say that’s typical of her.
Jo did not disappoint her community. She performed traditional Korean songs, “Ari Arirang,” “Bird’s Lament Song,” and Giuseppe Verdi’s “Sempre Libera,” from La Traviata. Due to popular demand, Jo returned to the stage to perform the pop hit, “You Raise Me Up.”
Opera is not for everyone. I have to confess that I am not a fan. But that evening, the first part of the beautiful program changed my mind. I was able to give up my own bias. I closed my eyes and relaxed.
Not only did I feel free, I felt blissful, enlightened, and enchanted. I realized I was enjoying Jo’s lyricism.
Although Jo has performed all over the world, this was the first time many Seattleites learned about her, including me. Jo’s performance has inspired me to listen and develop a little more patience with opera pieces. Thank you, Miss Jo, for opening our hearts and minds to beautiful classical music.
The sold-out concert of 2,400 was organized with the intent to bring all Asian groups together to appreciate music and arts. Sometimes, it is hard to achieve that goal given the fact that Asian Americans are quite diverse, with about 38 ethnic groups.
Let different ethnic groups take a turn in shining each time, said host James Sun. ♦