Girls of the golden west - SAN FRANCISCO OPERA (november 2017)

  "Joe finds comfort with a Chinese prostitute, Ah Sing (the brilliant coloratura soprano Hye Jung Lee), who decides that Joe, a client, would also make an ideal mate."

  -Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times 

"Hye Jung Lee imbued Ah Sing with secure coloratura flights."

- Georgia Rowe, Opera News

"The whole cast — including the high soprano Hye Jung Lee (Ah Sing), bass-baritone Ryan McKinny (Clarence) and tenor Paul Appleby (Joe) — is simply the future of opera, on one stage."

- Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times

"Lee, as the prostitute Ah Sing, produces high wire coloratura as dazzling as Fourth of July fireworks."

- David Karlin, Bachtrack

"The other ‘Girls’ of this Golden West are headed by Hye Jung Lee as the prostitute Ah Sing and J’Nai Bridges as Josefa Segovia. Both are vocally superb, Lee with her effortless soprano soaring stratospherically around Ah Sing’s melismatic lines and Bridges with her Rolls Royce, earthy mezzo."

- Clive Paget, Limelight

"Korean soprano Hye Jung Lee lights up the stage in beautiful costumes with sensual lyrics and a piercing voice as Ah Sing, a Chinese bar girl who falls in love with the all-American miner Joe Cannon."

- Jeanne Powell, Startkinsider


"In a performance reminiscent of Peter Pan, soprano Hye Jung Lee stopped the show on opening night of the San Francisco Opera's production of "The Tales of Hoffmann," brilliantly singing Olympia's famously difficult aria — while levitating.
Lee, a Merola Program alumna who earned ovations last year as Madame Mao in John Adams' "Nixon in China," floated around (without wires showing) until just before the end of the aria, when catapultlike machinery and the stagehands operating it were revealed. Then, wearing a floor-length skirt hiding inline skates, she glided around the stage while dazzling with the required E-flats, even interpolating a couple of high F's. If Cirque du Soleil ever tackles Offenbach, director-costumer Laurent Pelly and Lee should be on the marquee."

- Janos Gereben, SF Examiner

"The appealing coloratura soprano Hye Jung Lee was a wonderful Olympia, tossing off roulades and runs, and singing with bright, penetrating, creamy sound."

- Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Soprano Hye Jung Lee, coming off last year's exciting Madame Mao in John Adams' "Nixon in China," dispatched Olympia's glittering vocal roulades with ferocious precision and grace - and did it while swooping through a downright gymnastic staging." 
- Joshua Kosman, San Francisco Chronicle

"There's much excellent singing here, though one member of the cast leaves an indelible memory mark: Hye Jung Lee, who sings the role of the flying mechanical doll named Olympia. In her gleaming silver gown, she moves like a herky-jerky robot and, yes, she flies up, down and all around -- and straight out over the orchestra pit at War Memorial Opera House. All the while at Wednesday's opening performance, she sang her leaping coloratura passages with rare precision, rich tone and off-the-charts high notes. Let's just say there seemed to be no discernible top to her range; she just kept going one note higher in this strange and demanding role in this famous and exotic French psychodrama, which might as well have a subscript from Lionel Richie."

- Richard Scheinin, San Jose Mercury News

"Let’s just say that coloratura soprano, Hye Jung Lee, whose mousy little girl voice is so astoundingly suited for the role that you’d think she incarnated specifically to sing it, will send you flying. She and Pelly certainly sent the opening night audience into an uproar, receiving the loudest and most prolonged cheers of the evening."
- Jason Victor Serinus, San Francisco Classical Voice

"Hye Jung Lee may well be the reigning Olympia of her generation; the soprano retained her effortless projection, laser focus and sweet tone to the top of her high E-flats and beyond. (She added a couple of high Fs to her ornamentation.) Lee, in a silvery gown, came onstage harnessed to a crane, which, timed to her vocal leaps, repeatedly hoisted her into the stratosphere. It was an aptly jaw-dropping appearance, which she topped by gliding around the stage on in-line skates."
- Opera News 

"Hye Jung Lee was brilliant as Olympia, her "Les oiseaux dans la charmille" was the most amusing moment in the performance. Her voice is flexible and clear."

The Opera Tattler 


“Hye Jung Lee proved a vivacious, vocally agile Papagena, and her final scene with Papageno was delightful, as the stage filled with children representing little Papagenos and Papagenas.”
- South Florida Classical Review

“Hye Jung Lee was delightful as Papagena, singing so sweetly with Michie in "Pa–, pa–, pa–," while Bosquet’s costume creativity maxed out with Lee in a yellow dress, short in front and long in the back, suggesting feathers, with a pink and green feathered wig."

- Miamiartzine

“Hye Jung Lee shows an impressive talent for physical characterization as Papageno’s old hag turned babe love interest, Papagena.”
- Miami Sun Post


“As Elvino’s former girlfriend Lisa, the soprano Hye Jung Lee delivered her own impressive coloratura performance. In a bright, well-focused voice, she handle the runs, trills and wide leaps from note to note of her Act 2 aria De’ lieti auguri a voi son grata.”
- South Florida Classical Review


“But the evening's most dazzling performance came from soprano Hye Jung Lee, just two years out of the Merola Opera Program, in a career-making triumph as Madame Mao. With its aggressive, almost shrieky high notes and sinewy vocal leaps, this is music that is designed to be practically unsingable - a Queen of the Night for the 20th century - and yet Lee made it seem technically easy, and gave it a fierce, gleaming beauty as well.”
- San Francisco Chronicle

“For personality and power, gold medals go to the Mao family: to tenor Simon O'Neill as the aging chairman -- his voice piercing, his nerve endings all fired up with revolutionary zeal -- and to soprano Hye Jung Lee as Chiang Ch'ing (Madame Mao), a coloratura fury, scary with erotic violence. Her stratospherically pitch-perfect aria "I Am the Wife of Chairman Mao" will be remembered.”
- San Jose Mercury News

“there is the sensation of the evening, Hye Jung Lee, from the 2010 Merola Program, blowing down the house with her Chiang Ch’ing (Madame Mao), a huge, commanding voice and presence from a tiny frame.”
- Opera West

“The evening’s sensation was Hye Jung Lee as Mao’s wife. The tiny 2010 Merola Program singer blew down the house with her huge, commanding voice and presence.”
- San Francisco Examiner

“Hye Jung Lee was a terrifyingly fierce presence as Madame Mao, reaching the stratospheric heights of the role and singing the coloratura with ease.”
- San Francisco Classical Voice

“... but there was no stopping Korean Hye Jung Lee who was a firecracker Chiang Ch'ing (Madame Mao).”
- Los Angeles Times

Amongst the many successful interpretations, for me – and, it was apparent, for many members of the audience – the highlight of the evening was Hye Jung Lee's performance as the ruthless Madame Mao, Chiang Ch'ing. Only twenty-seven and at her first professional engagement, Lee shone in her interpretation, both in her singing and her acting. She delivered beautiful coloratura lines, even in the most rhythmically challenging passages, with no hesitation and with fearlessness. She always remained severe in her physicality, which contributed to her character being equally intimidating and seductive. I'm looking forward to seeing this talented young singer on the most important stages in the next few years.
- Musical Criticism

“the tiny, young Korean coloratura soprano Hye Jung Lee drew a huge ovation for her furious rendition of Madame Mao’s chilling aria.”
- Associated Press: / Minnesota Star Tribune / Globe Gazette North Iowa News / The Washington Post / WTOP 103.5FM (DC) / Daily Republic Fairfield-Suisun, CA / Daily Reporter, Greenfield, IN / ABC / Sacramento Bee

“It closed with Soprano Hye June Lee’s coloratura aria “I am the Wife of Chairman Mao,” which left the audience breathless with its ferocity. For all the vocal pyrotechnics of the evening, her performance took what could have easily been a painfully long act, and transformed it into a spellbinding performance.”
- Stark Insider

“As Chiang Ch’ing, Hye Jung Lee delivered a quite sensational performance as Madame Mao. The young Korean soprano brought a scary edge to her showpiece aria, I am the wife of Mao Tse-Tung, handled the coloratura flights with great flair, and sang with pure, radiant tone in the lyrical passages of Act 3.”
- Classical Review

“The vocal star is Hye Jung Lee ("I am the wife of Chairman Mao!"), who graduated from the company's Merola training program just two years ago.”
- The Wall Street Journal