Talking with singers: Mario BahgInterview
South Korean tenor Mario Bahg made a Canadian splash last year, winning the Aria Prize of the Concours international musical de Montréal. This summer he returns, to sing Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with this year’s Toronto Summer Music Festival, alongside Canadian mezzo-soprano Rihab Chaieb.
We spoke with Bahg about why he sings, and his surprising professional Plan B:
Why do you sing professionally?
I feel happy when I sing on stage. Many people have the impression that classical music is very difficult and only a few people can enjoy it. I want to show the world that it’s not. If I can move someone through my singing - that’s really why I want to be a singer.
“Of course, it is good to get prizes, but it is a great chance to be judged by them and to learn how to grow as an artist.”
What do you know now about the singing career that you wish you knew 10 years ago?
It would have been better if I had gone to Europe earlier and studied. Learning the language and culture of the country and communication with people early would surely have helped me a lot more in my career now. It has been such a short time since I went to Germany and started studying there (only two years ago).
How has your career changed since winning CMIM in 2018?
The biggest change is that I’m in New York. In fact, it is not easy to study in Europe and then transition to America. The Met Opera’s LYADP (Lindemann Young Artist Development Program) is a place that every young singer wants. I ended up connecting with the Met Opera opportunity because of CMIM. (You never know who is listening!)
“If I hadn’t studied singing, I would have studied the automotive field.”
What do you think is the function of major voice competitions like CMIM or Operalia?
The greatest purpose is to be evaluated. Every major competition brings famous vocalists or professionals involved in music to the jury. Of course, it is good to get prizes, but it is a great chance to be judged by them and to learn how to grow as an artist.
If you didn’t sing for a living, what do you think you would do instead?
I love cars! As a child, I was a car buff who memorized all the car information. Even now, I am interested in reviewing cars and watching videos every day. If I hadn’t studied singing, I would have studied the automotive field. But my family encouraged and nurtured my singing ability since I was young, so my path had already been set since I was young.