Sumi Jo - Mad for Love

Sumi Jo Adelaide 2018Presented by Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, Andrew Mckinnon and State Opera of South Australia, in association with Adelaide Festival Centre. Festival Theatre. 15 Jul 2018


Apart from the stratospheric artistry of Korean coloratura soprano Sumi Jo and the irresistible charisma of Argentinian-Australian baritone José Carbó, what one loved about this wonderful concert was that by its end the opera-curious gentleman sitting alongside me was so completely sold on the artform that he was almost falling over himself trying to buy a ticket to the next operatic concert Adelaide has to offer; State Opera’s forthcoming Wagner gala! How good is that?


But who could not be swayed to distraction by Sumi Jo’s beautiful voice and consummate acting skills? She has an eye-wateringly busy performance schedule across the world, and has been recorded many times, but this is her first time to Adelaide and to see her in action is to truly appreciate her.


Sumi Jo is diminutive in stature, but she wears big gorgeous gowns and fills them out with an even bigger voice and bigger still characterisations. One could easily extol her vocal virtues and talk about her almost imperceptible vibrato in the highest registers, the purity and bird-song qualities of her tone, her dynamic control and her even strength across her full range. One could also draw comparisons between her talent and that of divas who have gone before her such as Sutherland and Callas. Above all, the thing that struck me is her ability to inhabit a song, word paint it and sell it hook, line and sinker to the audience.


Her program includes arias from Gounod’s Romeo et Juliette, Verdi’s Rigoletto, and Strauss’ Die Fledermaus. A highlight that enthrals and captivates the near capacity audience in the Festival Theatre is her performance of the Doll Song from Offenbach’s The Tales of Hoffmann. During the Doll Song the fan she uses as a hand-held prop self-destructs! As it did so Sumi Jo’s face broke into an infectious broad smile and she fell about laughing. Maestro Guy Noble brings the forces of the mighty Adelaide Symphony Orchestra to a halt and everyone enjoys the hilarity of the situation! With composure regained, Noble resumes and conducts them to the end bringing the audience to its feet cheering and wolf-whistling! Not too many stars can turn near-disaster into certain triumph!


José Carbó joins Sumi Jo in duets from Donizetti’s Don Pasquale and Lehar’s ever-popular Vilja and Love Unspoken from The Merry Widow. Their chemistry is palpable. Carbó also gives a spirited performance of the iconic Largo al Factotum from Rossini’s The Barber of Seville and a well-received emphatic rendition of the iconic Granada by Lara.


A highlight of the evening is Noble’s repartee from the podium. The man is witty and charming and knows how to add just enough lightness to a gala to stop it from being merely a concert.


This is a wonderful concert – one that puts a smile on your face from the very beginning and keeps it there well after you leave the theatre.

Kym Clayton


When: 15 Jul

Where: Festival Theatre

Bookings: Closed

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