Cher Public

Bohemian girl

The Met press office announces: “Hei-Kyung Hong will sing the role of Mimì in Puccini’s La Bohème on September 26 and 29, replacing Ekaterina Scherbachenko, who is ill.”

  • peter

    And that hopefully would explain why Scherbachenko sounded like that on Tuesday night.

  • DeepSouthSenior

    Hei-Kyung Hong is a lovely young lady of 55 (from this senior’s point of view), with a lovely stage presence and a lovely voice, who’s had quite a lovely career, mostly in the shadows. It would be unkind for some wag to suggest that an insert for opera neophytes be included in the program, stating that Mimi is Rodolfo’s girlfriend, not his mother.

    • Anna Notremolo

      …and far be it for a deep south senior to be unkind. Or even subtle.

    • DeepSouthSenior

      Believe it or not, I was thinking of those who will complain about the casting. I can see that it didn’t come across that way. “Back in the day,” Nilsson could sing Salome and Elektra, and Sutherland Lucia and Marie at 60, and hardly anyone would grouse. I know that those were extraordinary, once-in-a-generation voices. But that was then, and this is now. Even in the theater, not to speak of HD, we all know that today the visual often trumps the musical. With her beauty and youthful appearance, Hei-Kyung Hong might bring this off very nicely indeed.

      • Anna Notremolo

        Point taken and truly understood, DSS. I’d be a very rich old broad if I had a nickel for every time I was misinterpreted. All the best to the lovely Ms. Hong.

  • Milady DeWinter

    Yes peter, I agree. Maybe that could account for it. Hope to hear Scherbachenko in a better light in the future. In the meantime, I think Hong,m as ever, will deliver a perfectly poised Mimi.

    • BaronScarpia

      You will have a chance to hear Scherbachenko in Dallas in April in Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta. She is perfect in the role on DVD from Teatro Real.

  • semira mide

    I am sure that Hong will be sublime. As with dancers ( some of the best Juliets have been up-in-years) and older artist can sometimes convey youth better because she has “been there” … Lucky audience.

    • Sempre liberal

      While I don’t necessarily plan my season around hearing Hong, I have always enjoyed her performances. I was quite impressed when she sang Violetta for Dessay (I think) at the MET in the Decker Traviata ~2-3 years ago. She looked great in the dress and heels, and the soprano line in the big ensemble at the end of Act 2 Scene 2 was gorgeous (plus a very fine Addio al passato).

      • I have planned entire NY/Met trips around her and i do not regret it. I flew to NY just to see her Mimi and her Traviata (in the old production, the Decker is meh to me, and not because it is a “reggie” production) and they were 2 incredibly moving experiences.

    • Flora del Rio Grande

      Dorothy Kirsten’s Tosca, at age-64, was a masterpiece of artfulness
      and the benefits of experience; made one forget there was a certain
      thinness of voice. God bless ’em if they can pull it off! Viva DK!!!

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    Maybe the MET should start passing out little bottles of anti-bacterial hand gel to all their artists and insist that it be used at every possibility.

    • Guestoria Unpopularenka

      Condoms would be more useful.

  • One of the finest Mimis I’ve ever heard, Hei-kyung.

  • A. Poggia Turra

    Streaming reminder -- The ORW La Cenerentola live from Liege at 20:00 CEST / 2:00 p.m. EDT on Medici (Pizzolato, Korchak, deSimone under Arrivabeni):!/rossini-cenerentola-opera-royal-wallonie

  • This is going to sound sacrilegious, but to hell with other people’s opinions:

    For a long while I lamented the fact that when Freni came to Puerto Rico for Mimi i was broke and i missed the opportunity to hear her live…

    That is until I experienced Pamela South’s Liu and the Mimis of Maria Spacana and (a decade latter) Hei-Kyun Hong. After I saw these 2 artists do the role, yes, I am still sad that I could not experience Freni’s Mimi but I console myself with the fact that I saw 3 artists who gave perfect interpretations of those roles to the point of being Freni’s equals, at least on the roles mentioned.

    New Yorkers are lucky that they have such an amazing artist in that role. They will witness a devastating interpretation.

    Now I just need to catch Elizabeth Caballero as Mimi, Butterfly and Liu and I will be a happy bitch

  • Milady DeWinter

    Oh my, Maria Spacana -- haven’t heard that name in ages. She was indeed a lovely lyric soprano.

    • Milady DeWinter

      p.s. I think it was spelled “Spacagna’-

      • You are right. For some reason i did not catch that before I hit submit. Maria Spacagna was an amazing singer.

  • steveac10

    While Hong as Mimi might be a rare event in the last decade, she’s sung it with the company more than 60 times over the last quarter century. She actually leads the pack when it comes to number of outings in the role at the Met. I’m sure she’ll be lovely but it’s hardly an occasion.

    • Anna Notremolo

      Not “an occasion”? Those lucky enough to be in attendance at this rare event might just consider it so.

    • rapt

      Pedantic, I know, but just to clarify--you mean she leads the pack over the last quarter century, no? (Several sopranos prior to her sang it more times than she at the Met.)

      • steveac10

        She’ll tie Albanese with this run. Right now she’s probably number 4, and by far leads over the last 50 years. Other than Albanese, probably only Alda and Bori sang it more -- although she might move up if you only count shows in the house.

  • operainsider

    This is great! I love her! Will def check this out.

  • Quanto Painy Fakor

    “A tela o a seta ricamo in casa e fuori” will have new relevance when Ms Hong brings her Mimi out of the suburbs again.

  • sycamore

    Scherbachenko was uninspiring on the broadcast. She cracked at the end of the duet in Act III. Hope she is indeed sick.

    Hong is always a lovely singer. She can totally out-sing any so called “up and coming” Mimis.

  • Avantialouie

    Hong has saved Gelb’s ass more often than he can count. She is a first rate artist with a long and distinguished career. Her problem seems to be that everyone has heard her, that she’s not “new,” that she’s not “hot.” Ergo, she doesn’t get butts into seats. It simply does not pay to be “useful” to the Met. That’s a soprano’s direct route to turning into another Lucine Amara. Now if Hong were “difficult,” if Hong created scandal in the press, if Hong issued “interesting quotable quotes,” she’d be given opening nights. She’s a far better singer than many sopranos who HAVE opened the Met.

    • jrance

      Hong certainly DOES get butts in seats…take a look around next time you attend one of her performances. She invariably draws crowds from NYC’s Asian community who don’t normally attend the opera unless an Asian singer is in a leading role. I’ve seen bus-fulls of Asians unloading on the Plaza for Hong evenings, although these two added Mimis may not get the same response since they are announced so late in the day. But perhaps word will get out.

      Hui He also drew large numbers of Asians to her Butterflies last season; the night I went it seemed the entire Balcony and Family Circle were peopled with Asians. Some of them told me they’d come en masse from Long Island specially to see her, and had gotten a group rate for tickets.

      • steveac10

        I think much of Hong’s lack of renown was of her own making. She chose to remain in NYC while raising a family and rarely ventured to other major houses until they were older. The comparison to Amara is apt. A lovely voice with solid technique that is holding up wonderfully as she ages who appeared content to be the “house” soprano. While I have seen more than a few lovely performances from her, she does seem to lack that last drop of charisma that makes a star. That said, it’s hard to knock a 30 year career at one of the world’s leading opera houses. No female principal artist since the Bing era has lasted as long or hit the stage as often.

  • Ilka Saro

    I very fondly remember her Mimi from back in the 80’s, especially her Donde Lieta. She had that sweet, delicate voice, almost too light at the top, but all the same, the singing was so expressive that time just sort of stopped when she sang “Se vuoi serbarla al ricordo d’amor”. I heard her do this more than once, and it was always just amazing. I have no chance to hear her this week, but I really wish I could.

  • She’s also my fave Giulietta on record with the glorious Jennifer Larmore in the Capuletti

  • So, did anyone catch Hong’s Friday night performance?