Two local sopranos star in opera ‘Figaro’

December 29, 2008

By Staff

Two local musicians play starring roles in Lyric Opera Northwest’s first production of the new year, one of the most beloved operas of all time — “Le nozze di Figaro, Ossia la Folle Giornata” (“The Marriage of Figaro,” or “The Day of Madness”).“The Marriage of Figaro” is a comic opera in four acts composed in 1786 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, with libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte and based on a play by Pierre Beaumarchais. 

Sopranos Dohee Kim, of Issaquah, and Raluca Marinescu, of Sammamish, share the role of Contessa.

Born in Korea, Kim started music at 6, participating in young artist singing contests and winning several prizes. She studied singing and entered summa cum laude at Kyunghee University School of Music. As an undergraduate, she performed Susanna in “Le Nozze de Figaro” and went to Italy for summer school diplomas. In graduate school, she performed Mimi in “La Bohème” and started teaching opera performance at Anyang High School of Art. 

Kim took several years off to raise her two children when she and her husband came to the United States. Kim joined the Northwest Korean-American Musician Club and performed in annual opera aria concerts. She has continually honed her vocal skills in lessons with various singers, Mary Curtis-Verna of the University of Washington being the most influential. Kim sang the role of Cio-Cio-San in Lyric Opera Northwest’s “Madama Butterfly” and Violetta in “La Traviata.”

Born in Romania, Marinescu started her musical career playing the piano at the age of 5. As she grew, so did her love for opera. She continued to study piano and voice, performing in national and international competitions with noted success. Marinescu attended vocal master classes sustained by renowned singers, such as Carol Vaness, Eugenia Moldoveanu and Corneliu Murgu. 

She graduated from the National University of Music in Bucharest with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She earned a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Washington, where she is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Musical Arts. 

Some of Marinescu’s favorite roles have been the Contessa in “The Marriage of Figaro,” Mimi in “La Bohème” and Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni.” 

Lyric Opera Northwest’s production of “Figaro” features the North American debut of 30-year old Chinese countertenor Ma Xiao (pronounced Ma Shaw) singing in the role of Cherubino in the Friday and Saturday evening performances. A countertenor is a male singing full voice in the alto to soprano range. The haunting beauty of this sound is something the world rarely hears; Ma Xiao is thought to be the first countertenor in China. 

Sung in Italian with orchestra, sets and costumes, “Figaro” is another full-hearted labor by Lyric Opera Northwest, which bills itself as Seattle’s Traditional Opera Co. 

The nonprofit company is known for special casting and staging touches, incorporating a stilt walker in “Carmen” (2005), former sumo wrestler and award-winning Japanese dancer in “Madama Butterfly” (2006), international flamenco dancer in “La Traviata” (2007) and a bevy of ballerinas as the angels in “Hansel & Gretel” (2008). 

If you go

“The Marriage of Figaro”

7:30 p.m. Jan. 15-17, 7:30 p.m. with an additional matinee at 2 p.m. Saturday 

Meydenbauer Theatre, 11100 N.E. 6th St., Bellevue. 

Tickets are $38 for general admission, $34 for seniors and $30 for students, and may be ordered online at, or by calling 800-838-3006. or 206-938-7820.

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