Glamour girl's simple life

Glamour girl's simple life
South Korean soprano Sumi Jo wears haute couture gowns on stage.

Korean soprano Sumi Jo has two closets at home. One holds more than 250 haute couture concert gowns she has collected over 25 years, the other is full of jeans and sneakers.

"When I'm not at work, I'm very active and I love very casual clothing.

"I don't wear make-up and I'm driving, taking my dogs out or going to the supermarket. Those things, I enjoy doing, I love a lot," she tells Life! over the telephone from her home in Rome, where she has lived for the last 30 years.

Her contrasting wardrobes hold up a mirror to her life on and off stage.

When the lights come up, the 1.6m-tall star is a picture of perfection and control, her petite frame housing a voice which was hailed by the legendary Austrian conductor Herbert von Karajan as one "that appears once in every century".

But once the curtain falls, you are likely to find Jo, 51, behind the wheel of her new Nissan (she cannot remember which model it is, but "it's one of those outdoorsy cars. I love Freelanders and Jeeps, the bigger cars, the very wild cars") or taking her two dogs, 13-year-old Yorkshire Terrier Cindy and 14-year-old Shepherd dog Milly, for a walk.

The soprano will be giving a one-night-only concert at the Esplanade Concert Hall on Thursday with the Singapore Symphony Orchestra. She will be presenting a varied repertoire of works by Strauss, Offenbach, Lehar, Gounod and Rachmaninov.

Listening to Jo speak is as pleasurable as hearing her sing.

Her Italian-accented English is warm and full of dramatic flourishes, punctuated by easy laughter.

She promises that her concert here - her fourth since 1998 - will be "a firework of skills".

She says: "The human voice can show a lot of different colours and techniques, and create a lot of emotion. So I try to collect songs which give me that kind of emotion, and then I want to share them with the public in Singapore."

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