Seattle Opera welcomes international talent to the stage

May 22, 2023, 10:03 AM | Updated: 11:31 am

Seattle opera international talent...

Vuvu Mpofu (left) singing in the Seattle Opera's production of La Traviata (Photo courtesy of the Seattle Opera)

(Photo courtesy of the Seattle Opera)

Seattle is known for raucous sports fans, high-tech workers, outdoor enthusiasts, and, most recently, young, international opera talent.

Two such artists performed recently with Seattle Opera.

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Taking the stage, soprano Vuvu Mpofu, playing Violetta, and Duke Kim, playing Alfredo Germont in the opera La Traviata.

The two play lead roles in Giuseppe Verdi’s 1853 opera with a timeless theme of people falling in love and the forces keeping them apart.

“This is my first time in Seattle,” said Mpofu, who hails from South Africa. “This is my U.S. debut.”

So of all the cities in the country, we get to be the first?

“Yes,” Mpofu said with a laugh.

Kim is also making his Seattle debut, having grown up in South Korea, he tells me opera was not his first focus.

“Honestly, from the beginning, no, I wanted to become a pop singer,” Kim said. “I wanted to be a Korean pop singer, and I started taking lessons from an opera singer.”

And in time, he embraced opera.

“I think, honestly, my voice is suited better for classical singing,” Kim said.

Little doubt about that. As for Mpofu, she was first exposed to opera at a school singing competition. She quickly borrowed a couple of opera DVDs.

“La Traviata was the one that I put on first, and let me tell you, I was just taken to another whole world,” Mpofu said.

Now she and Kim are part of that world amid vivid sets, lush costumes, and the swell of the orchestra. And while they’re pouring their souls out on stage, they’re keenly aware of the audience.

“When you feel the energy from the audience, it gives you a drive,” Mpofu said.

“I think Seattle audiences are very energetic, and they give a lot,” Kim said. “Because as a singer, you love it when the audience gives back the energy that you give them because you can take that and give them even more.”

Both give high marks to Seattle audiences and people in the city in general.

“I love the city when you meet people that it has that warmth from people here, and I’ve been so lucky that I’ve been meeting wonderful people,” Mpofu said.

But what about the ‘Seattle Freeze,’ the idea that it is difficult to make friends and people can be off-putting?

“I haven’t encountered that at all,” Mpofu said.

The two have wrapped their Seattle performances of La Traviata for now but plan to be back whenever the Seattle stage welcomes them. I am sure the fans, will be ready.

Follow Heather Bosch on Twitter or email her here.

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Seattle Opera welcomes international talent to the stage