Spotlight on: Hyesang Park

Spotlight on: Hyesang Park

Photo: Dario Acosta.

South Korean soprano Hyesang Park is currently in Lewes, UK, making her debut at the Glyndebourne Festival as Najade in Ariadne auf Naxos, running June 25 to July 27. Winner the 2016 Gerda Lissner Foundation International Competition and the 2015 Operalia Competition Zarzuela Prize, Park is a current member of the Metropolitan Opera's Lindemann Young Artist Development Programme.

In our latest Spotlight interview, Park talks about her definitions of a well-rounded performer, and offers some of her own singer-friendly travel tips.

Why do you sing, and why are you doing it professionally?

I enjoy singing, and all the aspects of the career so much! I am having so much fun finding out more about myself when I sing. Whether I am studying roles or performing on the stage, I am always amazed to find I discover more about myself. I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to challenge myself through music. As someone who thinks a lot about how one can live more productively, growth is most important.

I believe it is necessary to stand up for oneself and to challenge oneself, rather than to not take risks. For this reason, a career as a singer is the perfect job for me. I really appreciate what I am doing. Every moment is special. Learning about different cultures, meeting new people, sharing the beauty of music- it’s exciting.

What does "good singing" mean to you? What does it feel like when you achieve it?

I think, "good singing" doesn't literally mean "good singing". I believe there are no absolutes or levels of "good singing". It changes according to the times, singers, teachers, trends, even fashion. People don't like a singer if he or she only has good technique, is only good looking, is only a certain type of character. Audiences have to understand what we are singing, and they have to feel comfortable with us. We as singers have to move their souls. In this regard, I don't think I am the best singer, but I think I have my own uniqueness in my singing.

Light is refracted when it passes through a prism. A prism reflects all the colors of a rainbow. I always want to be a prism. I absorb the color of the role I am singing, but it is projected through my own unique prism. I believe that is what the audience expects from the artist. Believing in the unique beauty of each role, aria, work, and striving to communicate this to the audience is very important if one wants to experience "good singing". When it all comes together, "good singing" for me results in my feeling that there was a genuine connection with the audience.

What do young singers need to do more of? What should they do less of?

Young singers need to be themselves, believe in themselves – their voice, personality, style, etc. It's important to practice, study the fundamental stuff including technique, various languages, to be open to learning, and to be sure to get adequate rest. The needs a singer has are not the same as those who are in other fields. That's ok. Young singers should not compare themselves to others, or feel they should sing certain roles. It's important to find suitable repertoire for one’s voice, to find a proper balance.

Do you have any "bucket list" roles you'd like to sing (realistically or otherwise)?

Adina, Norina, Amina, Lucia, Fiorilla, Zerlina, Despina, Gilda, Juliette, Musetta, Rosina. I think it is always a good idea to be aware of what can you sing right now. One should add new roles slowly and with an intelligent approach to maintain a healthy voice.

One day, I would love to sing Violetta from La traviata again. This opera was the first opera I'd ever seen and my first debut role when I was 22 years old in the Korea National Theater. I have never tired of this opera, and I continually discover new moments in it. The role is a challenge, and not only because it requires a brilliant technique and agility, as well as a deep understanding of the work and music.

What have you learned about your career as a singer, solely through professional experience?

There is an expression in French, "Fais moi rêver" - "make me dream". I strive to do this – I love when I can make people "dream" with my singing. As a Korean singer, I can say making a career is not easy because this music is all about Western culture. There are huge cultural differences and so many different gaps. So, for me, this is already an adventure and a challenge.

I have such a big responsibility about my singing. This is not about filling my pocket with money, not about having a big reputation, not even about my own joy and happiness. I feel I have to try to open another door.

I have also learned some elements of practical things as a singer: put your passport in your bag at least one day before your travel. Arrange the arrival time for the hotel check in, so that you don't lose time on the road. Always bring some books to read, and download or scan your music to save weight in your bags on the plane.

Do you know someone deserving of a little Spotlight? Let us know! Get in touch at hello@schmopera.com.

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Written by

Jenna Douglas

Jenna Douglas

Jenna is the editor and co-creator of Schmopera.com. She's also a pianist, vocal coach, and répétiteur, and working with singers is how she fell in love with opera. Her favourite operas include Peter Grimes, Ariadne auf Naxos, Tristan und Isolde, Written on Skin, and Anna Nicole.

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