September 10, 2018

Alumni Spotlight with Metropolitan Opera singer Kathleen Kim (BM ’98, MM ’00)

Since her Metropolitan Opera debut in 2007, alumna Kathleen Kim’s international profile has continued to rise.

Ms. Kim’s career at the Met includes performances as La Fée in Cendrillon, Olympia in Les contes d’Hoffmann, Zerbinetta in Ariadne auf Naxos, Oscar in Un ballo in maschera, and Blondchen in Die Entführung aus dem Serail. She was hailed by critics for her role as Chiang Ch’ing in the Met’s iconic premiere of Nixon in China, directed by Peter Sellars and conducted by John Adams. This season Kathleen is performing as Gretel in Hänsel und Gretel with Korea National Opera and as a solo artist with the Seattle Symphony and Seoul Arts Center Concert Hall.

Kathleen Kim as La Fée in the Metropolitan Opera's 2018 production of Massenet's "Cendrillon"

We asked Kathleen about her thriving career and the impact MSM has had on her life. Here’s what she told us.

Tell us about your path from student to Metropolitan Opera and international opera star.

“After graduation, I auditioned for every singing gig I could. My first job was in the chorus of Opera Festival of New Jersey, which no longer exists. There I learned the basics about being on stage, how operas are prepared, and what it’s like to be an opera singer. After that, I was accepted into the young artists programs at Sarasota Opera, Music Academy of the West, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. At the Lyric, I sang Adele in their young artist’s production of Die Fledermaus. Jonathan Friend, Artistic Administrator of the Metropolitan Opera, came to see the show, and I was invited to audition for the Met. After my stage audition, I made my Metropolitan Opera debut as Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro in 2007 and sang Oscar in Un ballo in maschera in my first season. Since then I have been living the life of an opera singer traveling all over the world.”

How do you prepare for a role?

“My favorite thing to do when I get a new score is to highlight my part. I study the libretto next and then learn the music.”

What is your “dream role”?

“Currently my dream role is Violetta in La Traviata.”

What career and life advice would you give to new grads entering the real world”?

“Opera singers’ lives are not as fancy and glamorous as you would imagine. You need to be tough emotionally and physically. My advice is to try to have a life outside of your career. Don’t lose sight of what is important to you, experience everything you can, and be wise about how you spend your time.”

Heralded as “spectacular” by Opera News and as “a revelation” and “tiny dynamo” by the Chicago Sun-Times

How did your education at MSM prepare you in life?

“MSM prepared me well for the fundamentals in a singing career, specifically my diction, language, acting, and dance classes.”

What does MSM mean to you?

“I was at MSM for six years. My education helped me to root myself as an opera singer, and I learned how to make baby steps towards becoming a classical singer.”

What is the most useful/inspirational piece of advice you ever received from an MSM teacher or coach?

“Every class was useful. I especially liked the literature classes, which opened my eyes and taught me how to approach learning new music.”

What is your favorite MSM memory?

“I have many good memories of MSM, especially the experience of singing in Martin Katz’s master class.”

Kathleen singing The Doll Song from "Les Contes d'Hoffmann" — Metropolitan Opera Live in HD

What has been the greatest challenge in your career?

“The greatest challenge is balancing my career and personal life. I’ve learned that it is really important to have something that I can cherish other than my career.”

Do you have any pre-performance rituals or superstitions?

“I pray!!”

Name something outside of music and your career that you are passionate about.

“When I have down time, I love watching movies. I also love traveling by myself. I’ve traveled to many places to sing, including Bilbao, Barcelona, Munich, Lille, London, Glyndebourne, Rome, and Oslo, but my favorite places that I’ve been to on vacation are Dubrovnik and Praha.”

What is the most surprising track on your playlist?

“I love listening to jazz, especially Stacey Kent.”

What projects are you currently working on and what’s next?

“I am working on the role of Gretel in Humperdinck’s Hänsel und Gretel, which I will be doing at Korea National Opera for the first time this October. I have wanted to add this role to my repertoire, so I am very excited!”