Soprano Dohee Kim achieves diva status without the attitude

March 12, 2013

By Staff

While “diva” is used to describe iconic women of popular culture who tend to project a certain sense of their own grandeur, or even a spoiled girl who seems to suck all the air out of any room she enters, it originally described a female opera singer, usually a soprano, of stellar talent, captivating voice and commanding presence.

Derived from Italian for “goddess,” it has replaced the earlier term of art, “prima donna,” meaning “first lady.”

Contributed Dohee Kim (left), as Mimi, performs with tenor Gino Lucchetti, as Rodolpho, in ‘La Bohème.’

Dohee Kim (left), as Mimi, performs with tenor Gino Lucchetti, as Rodolpho, in ‘La Bohème.’

Rare is the diva that is universally known among her fellow cast members as humble, gracious and appreciative of her opportunities.

Such a person is Issaquah mother Dohee Kim, who has the “frontrunner position” for status of diva for the nonprofit Lyric Opera Northwest, the populist opera company founded by international opera singers Pamela Casella and Craig Nim. It performs at such diverse venues as Meydenbauer Theatre, Moore Theatre, and the Auburn, Bothell, Eastlake and Kirkland performing arts centers.

At 4 p.m. March 17 Dohee sings yet another principal role in the opera’s productions of the world’s great operas — that of Micaëla in Georges Bizet’s “Carmen.” Kim has previously been heard as Cio Cio San in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly” and Mimi in his “La Bohéme,” Violetta in Verdi’s “La Traviata,” La countessa di Almaviva in Mozart’s “Le nozze di Figaro” and Nedda in Leoncavallo’s “Pagliacci.”

Kim was born in Korea. She began in music at age 6, participating in young artist singing contests and winning several prizes.

She entered summa cum laude at Kyunghee University School of Music. As an undergraduate, she performed Susanna in “Le nozze di Figaro” and went to Italy for summer school diplomas. In graduate school, she performed Mimi in “La Bohéme” and started teaching opera performance at the Anyang High School of Art.

She and her husband were blessed with two sons soon after coming to the United States. For several years, singing took a back seat to raising children. Dohee 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.

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