For Korean soprano Sumi Jo, moving to Italy from Seoul in 1983 to study at the Accademia di Santa Cecilia was a culture shock. But some 35 years later she’s obviously very much at home and she brushes off the early hour of our phone interview. “I usually wake up at six to take care of my three dogs,” she explains. “So for me at 7:30, my day has already started.” The lyric coloratura soprano made her debut as Gilda in Verdi’s Rigoletto in 1986 and has gone on to become one of the highest selling classical singers in the world, returning to Australia – she was last here in 2016 for her A Tribute to Maria Callas tour and an appearance at Canberra’s Voices in the Forest – for a tour with Argentine-Australian baritone José Carbó in which she will sing a selection of Korean songs alongside the operatic repertoire that has made her famous. While Jo’s mother fed on her on a diet of Callas and Joan Sutherland growing up – even before the birth she was intent that her child would become an opera singer – Jo was also exposed to plenty of Korean music as well.
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