Sumi Jo has had a fascinating career.
Born on Nov. 22, 1962, the South Korean soprano has not only established an international career singing at all the major opera houses around the globe, winning several major awards and competitions (including a Grammy), but she has also seen herself in contention for an Oscar.
In fact, she’s had quite the career in the movies, her extensive output in the cinematic artform rivaled in the modern era by only Renée Fleming.
So here’s a look at her long list of major motion pictures that her “voice from above (as noted by Herbert Von Karajan)” has graced at one time or another.
The soprano has appeared in a number of Korean shows including “Ju-mong,” “The Lost Empire,” and “Ju-jun.” These represented the first times she appeared in the audiovisual medium, most of that work coming in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
The Ninth Gate
The soprano’s first major leap to the silver screen came with the 1999 Roman Polanski film, “The Ninth Gate.” Starring Johnny Depp as a fallen bookseller. In this film, she appears singing a “Vocalise” that echoes the supernatural themes of the film.
She also made an appearance in Todd Haynes’ “Mildred Pierce” at several junctures, always as the voice of Evan Rachel Wood’s Veda, who is an opera singer in the film. Jo sings an arrangement of Wagner’s Bridal Chorus from “Lohengrin,” “Caro Nome” from “Rigoletto,” and “Der Hölle Rache” from “Die Zauberflöte,” among others.
Her most famous appearance on the big screen, the soprano herself appears in the climax of the film singing the “Simple Song #3” that is often referenced throughout. The piece was so popular that it earned an Oscar nomination for Best Song, though in a controversial move, the song was omitted from the ceremony altogether and Jo was not even invited to perform.