Ten Questions with Hyung Yun

Ten Questions with…

Hyung Yun, baritone
Anckarstöm in A Masked Ball


1. My favorite thing about being a singer is:
When I was young, I was mesmerized by the beautiful melody and feeling which were created from singing Italian canzones. Growing up in Seoul, Korea, Italian was a very foreign language. Back then, I sang the lyrics and melodies without fully understanding what the words meant, literally and figuratively. But when I sang for people, they loved my singing and praised me for interpreting the meaning of words with my timbre and dynamics. It was fun for me to create my own sounds with only melodies and the fact that I was still able to impress my audience.
But as I studied music as my profession, I realized the crucial importance of completely understanding the words before I even start singing. The melody and words were like body and soul, inseparable. As I matured as an opera singer, it gives me much excitement to study and understand the composer’s intention and relation between the lyric, melody and harmony. It fascinates me and inspires me to put these three elements together to make my own voice. My favorite part about being a singer is to be able to feel this fascination and thrill with every new role I sing.
2. The greatest challenge in being a singer is:
To be constantly living away from my family and living life alone. I missed 11 of my daughter’s birthdays out of 15. My daughter is pretty cool about it, but I always feel guilty and that I’m missing out. Since her birthday is in December, I was always singing Messiah somewhere.
3. A live music performance I’ve attended that I will never forget is:
In 1991, Placido Domingo came to Korea to do a solo recital in the biggest concert hall. At the time, I was serving in the army and was given a few days’ break to leave training, so I chose to attend his recital. I was so touched and moved, I kept the ticket to this concert until I entered Domingo Young Artist program and had Domingo sign my concert ticket from 1991.
4. A few of my favorite films are:
Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Ben-Hur and Notebook.
5. Three things I can’t live without are:
My daughter, my wife and my mother.
6. My number one hobby is:
Washing dishes after a family meal together.
7. If you could perform with any singer, retired or deceased, who would it be?
Giuseppe Di Stefano
8. If you weren’t a singer, what profession would you be in?
Probably I would be a dentist, since my mother wanted me to be a dentist. My father was a famous baritone in Korea and my mother always thought it was a tough profession for the family. She always encouraged me to be a dentist. Thank God, I wasn’t typical obedient child!
9. What role do you wish you could sing that you could never sing because it’s the wrong voice type / gender?
Calaf from Turandot would be fun.
10. Describe your favorite moment on stage.
It has to be the moment when I finish singing my perfect aria and hear the cheering audiences with bravo.
Bonus: One question you wish someone would ask you (and the answer).
Do you come from a musical family?
Yes, my father was a legendary baritone in Korea. He never had a chance to study overseas, so no one really knows who he is outside of Korea. I always had a strong urge to continue with that part of my father’s dream and through my singing let the world know what a great singer and musician my father really was. His name was Chiho Yun. And my aunt was the very first Carmen in Korea.

See Hyung in Madison Opera’s production of Verdi’s A Masked Ball (Un Ballo in Maschera) October 26 and 28 at Overture Hall. Tickets start at just $18!

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