Friday, March 4, 2011

High Praise for Hei-Kyung Hong as Gounod's Juliette

"...the soprano Hei-Kyung Hong, one of the best and most indefatigable of these singers, has performed with the Metropolitan Opera no fewer than 348 times since her debut in 1984. Stalwart artists like Ms. Hong are the ones ready to step in when international stars call in sick. On Wednesday, the soprano Angela Gheorghiu, citing an unspecified illness, announced that she was dropping out of the Met’s revival of Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette, which opened Thursday evening. She was replaced by Ms. Hong, who in true Met veteran style had gone on for another ailing Juliette back in 1996. Ms. Hong rose to the occasion with an elegant, touching performance. Her voice is cool and slender, but
(Photo: Sara Krulwich/NYTimes)
the understated detail of her singing makes it feel more imposing than it is: the way she poignantly colored her farewell to Roméo at the end of the balcony scene; her dreamy murmur of his name in the bedchamber duet. Though not the most galvanizing stage presence, she is a fine, subtle actress. It’s not easy for a 51-year-old singer to impersonate a teenager, but Ms. Hong was convincing and true, resisting every temptation to overplay. When she saw Roméo for the first time, her posture changed almost imperceptibly. She stood up taller; her gestures relaxed; she seemed to mature in front of your eyes. Her performance was full of such telling touches." [Source]

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