In June 2021, South Korean baritone Kim Gi-hoon, who hails from the remote town of Gokseong, South Jeolla Province, made his name known to the world when he won the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition held in the UK.
Such prestigious competition was not something new to him. In 2019, he received not one, but two second prizes from the International Tchaikovsky Competition and Placido Domingo's Operalia. Great opportunities ensued following the wins, but then came the pandemic that canceled what could have been career-defining performances.
“I was one of many musicians who lost jobs during the pandemic and when the opportunity came to compete in the BBC Cardiff, I wanted to grab it,” Kim told reporters during an interview on Tuesday in Seoul.
On Tuesday, the 31-year-old had just arrived from Dallas, Texas, where he made his debut as Scarpia in "Tosca" at the Dallas Opera. Scarpia, an antagonist known for his ruthless and manipulative nature, is the role which Kim, who has an easy smile on his face, wanted to perform most.
“Someone asked me how I would handle the character with a smiling face and I answered, 'Isn't it scarier if someone like that plays the role of a psychopath?'” he said. “I want to widen my acting spectrum and want to do everything well. I don’t want to be recognized for some particular roles.”
“Whatever role I take, I want to show my own interpretation,” he added.
In the 2023-24 season, Kim will appear as Marcello in "La Boheme" at Covent Garden in London and as Rodrigo in "Don Carlo" in Copenhagen, Denmark. In the 2024-25 season, he will debut as Schaunard in "La Boheme" at the New York Metropolitan Opera.