sumi jo and tomomi nishimoto in concert

It takes a special woman to get me to trek the distance.  In this case we have two! Being asian, admittedly a bit biased, I feel drawn to support fellow asians who have made it far in their respective careers, especially female asians.  Let’s face it, there are so few asian singers in the operatic world.  And when it comes to conductors..  Tomomi Nishimoto alone would get me to the concert. But with Sumi Jo! A soprano voice i actually quite like for bel canto.

So i  was debating hard… then the morning of the concert, I woke up to find they had released tons of cheaper* tickets (WHO was holding on to those and prevented the general public from buying??? I want to know.)  Got myself one but didn’t manage to convince more people to come.  Let me just say it was quite a 1.5+hr trek across town and traffic.  I made it just 7 min late.

The program:
J. STRAUSS JR. Selections from Die Fledermaus
DELL’ACQUA Villanelle
VERDI Selections from La Traviata
TCHAIKOVSKY Symphony No. 5

The concert hall: big. 4 levels, with people tucked away waaay up high on the 4th balcony.

renee and segersom concert hall, ocpac

the audience: I would say 80-90% asians, more specifically koreans :-).  we all know they came in force (if they could afford the tickets, ~ 1/2 of the orchestra level and 2nd+3rd balcony was empty) to hear and see their famous Sumi Jo.

The performance:

If anything, my attendance confirms my likeness for Sumi Jo’s voice.  She can vary the intensity of her voice to express emotions well.  I felt immersed  in the music.  Of course Violetta’s arias are by nature very beautiful so you’d think that one can’t do no wrong.  But the pain in her voice tells you Violetta’s pain rather than Sumi Jo’s singing, nice!

Sumi Jo from way above

The working connection between Sumi Jo and Tomomi Nishimoto is lovely wonderful to watch:  continuous eye contacts, signals, and mutual appreciations

birds-eye view of Sumi Jo and Tomomi Nishimoto

When Sumi Jo was done with her program (1st half), the crowd didn’t want her to leave.  I didn’t want her to leave.  She came back for a few encores.  I took my camera out to snap some photos while the crowd was clapping, and she decided to sing a (well known?) Korean song

The 2nd half was Nishimoto’s.  I’m quite confused.  Just 2 weeks ago, I listened to Tchaikovsky’s 5th with great appreciation.  The version I heard yesterday was sooo different, it was as if I was listening to an entirely different symphony!  I had to go back to my own blog to verify it wasn’t Tchaikovsky’s 4th that I heard before. Now that I got some youtube clip on in the background, I know why: Ms. Nishimoto’s version is not dark enough.  She took the 1st movement much slower than the BSO version, more drawn out and dramatic, but just not as dark.  She has made her career in Moscow and St. Petersburg, so clearly the Russians strongly believe in her interpretations of Tchaikovsky’s music.  Pacific Symphony is no BSO, but could it be that the orchestra is too thin?  I’m talking about the first 1-2 minutes of the first movement which sets stage for the rest of the symphony:

She has several CD recordings conducting Tchaikovsky’s. Now i’m curious to listen to her takes on those. Personally i’d like to hear a bit more dynamic contrast (if that’s what you call it, more contrasts in intensity rather than uniform sound…) and crispness. How do conductors get that out of the orchestra? You can listen to the first minute or so of these 2 clips to perhaps see what I mean: Nishimoto and Leytush conducting 3rd movement of Tchaikovsky’s 6th symphony.

Anyway, aside from that, I had an absolutely wonderful time.  It almost felt historical :-D, the usher next to me said she had never seen a female conductor before.  The crowd clapped and clapped away at the end, calling her back on stage 3 times. Given the nearly 1/2 empty space in orchestra level (more later), Ms. Nishimoto realized the loudest claps came from way above her, so it was very nice she took her time looking up to appreciate her newly found fans

tomomi nishimoto

tomomi nishimoto with pacific symphony

* cheap is relative, i paid more than any tix i’ve paid in boston sitting very close to the stage, and i was waaaay above. i just wish they released tix to the public at 1/2 price just before the concert. That way more people could have come to appreciate Nishimoto and Sumi Jo. and I was hoping Sumi Jo and Nishimoto can look out to a packed house… It’s clear the fans couldn’t afford the ticket price.

About thả diều
writing-challenged opera-addict

6 Responses to sumi jo and tomomi nishimoto in concert

  1. idlehouse says:

    how sad. What the hell was wrong with them for informing pp like you the day before the event??? That might account for the unsold seats as pp could not wiggle out of their schedule

  2. Branden says:

    Thanks for your photos & korean songs on YouTube. I enjoyed it very much. Let me ask one thing. Did you recored this concert? Could you share it for me? I have so much Sumi Jo & other great singers’ performances that released officially & recorded in theater privately. If you recorded this, how about trade? Miss Jo is one of my favorite divas. I would be very appreciate if you could give me chance to listen this concert. Thanks for reading this & will be waiting for your reply.

    • thả diều says:

      hi Branden, thank you for stopping by! No I didn’t not record the performance, only that 1 encore :-). I know Sumi Jo and Tomomi Nishimoto had already released a DVD with a very similar program together, so I didn’t plan to record anything. It was just that when I was taking picture, she suddenly decided to sing the song, so I captured it. I’m glad you enjoy it. It was indeed a very beautiful concert. Regards. -td

      • Branden says:

        Hello, Tha Dieu! Yes, the DVD was relesed in DG Japan. Anyway, the encore song that you shared via YouTube is new to me. I have never heard this song by Sumi. Beautiful singing. I downloaded these photos & the encore song and copied this post to save them in my hardisk. Thanks again. All the best.

  3. Romy says:

    Thank you for posting this. I was there too, and I thought the whole thing was beautiful. I found it by accident–it seemed strange to me that there wasn’t more publicity. A few nights before, I googled Sumi Jo just to see if there was anything new and I found my way to Carnegie Hall. So I called to buy the cheapest ticket I could get, and the lady on the phone asked me how I had heard about the concert. I thought that was strange. I also noticed all the empty seats last night. I’ve seen Sumi Jo twice before there, and I don’t remember that being so. So I too wonder at that–I think if they had let the cheaper seats go earlier, many more would have come. I went by myself, but if there had been cheaper tickets, even up in the nosebleeds, I know I could have swayed a few people to go too.

    Did you ever see this little commercial with Tomomi san in it? It’s kind of sweet:

    • thả diều says:

      Hi Romy, thank you for stopping by! No I haven’t seen this commercial before, soo cute! the missing “fa”!
      I’m glad you found the concert in time too! Ya I’m very puzzled about the promotional company for this concert tour (they have an official company on facebook). I have a feeling they restricted other sites/orchestra/concert halls from publicizing it. For example, I get mails from Pacific Symphony all the time, yet I didn’t get info about this until the day before. On top of it, seats were listed as sold out until the day of the concert when suddenly 1/2 of the concert hall popped up empty on the internet! very strange. I know I could have convinced several friends to join had tickets been cheaper and made more available. I also thoroughly enjoyed the concert, and happy to hear you had a great time too!
      regards, -td

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