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Soprano Park So-young / Courtesy of Etoile Classic

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Korean Soprano Park So-Young, Right, Poses With French Tenor Benjamin Bernheim As Park Stepped Into The Role Of Juliette Opposite Bernheim's Romeo In The Metropolitan Opera Production Of 'Romeo Et Juliette' On Saturday. Courtesy Of Etoile Classic

Korean soprano Park So-young, right, poses with French tenor Benjamin Bernheim as Park stepped into the role of Juliette opposite Bernheim’s Romeo in the Metropolitan Opera production of “Romeo et Juliette” on Saturday. Courtesy of Etoile Classic

Korean Soprano Park So-young took center stage at the Metropolitan Opera in New York on Saturday, performing the lead role of Juliette in Charles Gounod’s “Romeo et Juliette” under the baton of conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin.

Park was called upon just two hours before the performance as soprano Nadine Sierra unexpectedly fell ill. Throughout the entire seven-performance run of the opera from March 7 to 27, Park had been on standby as the cover for Juliette.

This marks Park’s return to the New York-based opera company some five years after making her Met debut as the Queen of the Night from Mozart’s “The Magic Flute” in January 2019.

Her previous experience as Juliette in the Seoul Metropolitan Opera production in 2022 provided her with a strong foundation, and attending studio rehearsals for the Met’s production not only deepened her understanding of director Bartlett Sher’s vision but also acquainted her with French tenor Benjamin Bernheim, who performed the role of Romeo opposite Park.

Park’s cover of Juliet was recommended by the Met’s casting director after viewing her rehearsal video from the Seoul Metropolitan Opera.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Park’s musical journey took a turn as she returned to Korea after years of activity in the United States. Originally recognized as a coloratura soprano, her exploration of the lyric soprano style bore fruit, ultimately leading to her performance as Juliette at the Met, Park’s agency in Korea Etoile Classic said.

Born in Busan in 1986, Park studied at Seoul National University and the New England Conservatory of Music and has mainly been active in opera theaters in the U.S. She participated in the LA Opera production of Corigliano’s “The Ghosts of Versailles,” which won the categories Best Engineered Album, Classical and Best Opera Recording at the 2017 Grammy Awards.

Now, Park shares her time between Korea and abroad. In 2023, she performed as Violetta in the Korea National Opera’s “La Traviata” and as Liu in the Seoul Metropolitan Opera’s “Turandot.”

Following her Met performance, Park will return to Seoul to sing Mahler Symphony No. 4 with the Jeonju Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Sung Ki-sun, as part of the 2024 Orchestra Festival at the Seoul Arts Center on April 11.

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