Leah Hawkins, Joseph Lim, Mario Bahg Take Center Stage For Met’s Summer Recitals

By David Salazar
(Credit: Photos Courtesy of Met Opera Press Department)

Every summer, the Metropolitan Opera leaves Lincoln Center for two major projects. The first is a series of concerts at Carnegie Hall. But the latter is geared toward reaching out to a different kind of audience as it presents live concerts at a number of parks throughout New York City.

This year’s recital series is underway, having kicked off with a showcase at Central Park on Monday, June 10, 2019, and followed by a second at the Brooklyn Bridge Park on June 12, 2019. But a number of showcases remain at the Jackie Robinson Park on June 13, followed by one at the Williamsbridge Oval in the Bronx on Saturday, June 15. It all ends with a concert at the Socrates Sculpture in Queens on the 17th and the Clove Lakes Park in Staten Island on the 19th.

For this second series of concerts, the Met will be showcasing three young vocal talents including soprano Leah Hawkins, tenor Mario Bahg, and Joseph Lim. Hawkins and Bahg are both members of the Met Opera’s Lindemann Young Artist Development program while Lim is a winner of the Met’s National Council Auditions.

“I’m excited to sing for people who have never entered an opera house,” Hawkins told OperaWire about performing in this series of concerts. “The ones who don’t think they belong there.  For the people who have never associated brown skin with this art form. I’m excited to share art with New York City!”

“These Parks recitals are a way for people to experience music much more comfortably than in a formal concert hall. When the audience is relaxed, I can more easily communicate my emotions to them. I’m looking forward to feeling that energy,” added Lim.

(Credit: Chris Lee / Metropolitan Opera)

Both Lim and Bahg come from musical families and their immersion into the world of opera was a natural result of their beginnings. Bahg’s father was a tenor, while Lim’s mother was an opera singer.

“I had plenty of opportunities to expose myself to music, whether at my mom’s performances or at regular outings with my father to concerts. Naturally, I did not have to think twice when it was time to decide my future profession, and my parents’ musical influence has been a tremendous inspiration for me,” Lim told OperaWire.

Hawkins did not have as much of a musical family. The Philadelphia Native noted that she’s always loved to sing and had an inkling from a young age that she was destined for a career as a vocal artist.

“I saw my first opera when I was 12 years old – a dress rehearsal of ‘Carmen’ at Opera Philadelphia – and went home and asked my parents for voice lessons to learn how to sing like the artists on stage,” she told OperaWire. “I hated the actual story, but fell in love with the music, costumes, lighting – the whole spectacle that is opera!”

The trio of singers, accompanied by pianist Dmitri Dover, will perform a series arias and duets from a diverse range of operas including “Turandot,” “Adriana Lecouvreur,” “Otello,” “Così Fan Tutte,” “The Queen of Spades,” “Tannhäuser,” “The Pearl Fishers,” “The Merry Widow,” and “Hamlet.”

“We have tried to choose music in a few different styles, and the audience will probably notice how each of the arias comes across in a unique way,” Bahg stated.

“I am so pleased that I can share some of my favorite pieces with the audience, and hopefully they can easily enjoy the music,” Lim concluded.






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