Artist Profile: Hei-Kyung Hong, A Met Opera Star

By David Salazar

Hei-Kyung Hong, born on July 4, 1959, has built up a fascinating career that has resulted in a long-lasting association with the Metropolitan Opera.

The South Korean soprano kicked off her studies at the Yea Won Music School in Seoul but wound up heading to the United States at the age of 15 to study at the Juilliard School of Music and the American Opera Center.

She won the 1982 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and then made her debut in “La Clemenza di Tito” in 1984. She has built a career at the Met, singing in over 400 performances. She made history in 2006 when she became the first Asian soprano to sing the role of Violetta in “La Traviata” at the Met.

But she has also performed at the Royal Opera, Vienna State Opera, Arena di Verona, Rome Opera House, La Scala, and the Bayerische Staatsoper, among others.

She is a recent recipient of the Opera News Award in commemoration of her career.

Major Roles

Her Met career has been defined by the role of Mimì in “La Bohème,” which she has sung over 60 times at the Met between 1987 and 2016. Next up is Michaëla in “Carmen” and Liù in “Turandot.”

Watch and Listen

Here is her iconic “Mi chiamano Mimì” from “La Bohème.”

And here she is in the other “Bohème” role from La Scala.


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