“Yi has a voice like no other, velvety, gorgeous, effortless …”
With reviews like this resounding in our ears, it is clear that, with the arrival of Vince Yi, a new counter-tenor star is born. Born in South Korea, he grew up in California, and studied at Boston University (BM, MM) and the University of Michigan (DMA). While still a student his remarkable vocal talents were recognised with a string of awards, (including The Shoshana Foundation Richard F. Gold Career Grant, previous winners of which have included Reneé Fleming and David Daniels), and critically-acclaimed performances. One critic wrote: “Vince Yi blew our socks off”; another exclaimed: “ … my jaw … dropped all the way to the floor … ”
In 2007 he gained a place as the only counter-tenor on San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Merola Program for young artists, following in the footsteps of such international stars as Anna Netrebko and Thomas Hampson. Here, he sang partial roles as diverse as Idamante in Mozart’s Idomeneo and the lead in Handel’s Giulio Cesare at the Schwabacher Summer Concert.. In 2009 he made his Carnegie Hall debut under the auspices of the Marilyn Horne Foundation “The Song Continues” series.
Rapidly forging an international reputation, he arrived on European stages singing the male lead in Johann Adolf Hasse’s Piramo e Tisbe (Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci 2012). He has since appeared in the dazzling “Gala Night of Countertenors” at the Palace of Versailles, which has been recorded and released by Decca Classics under the title, “The 5 Countertenors” and toured throughout Europe (Megaron, Athens, Theatre Champs Elysées, Paris, Cemal Recit Rey Concert Hall, Istanbul). He originated the role of Hunapu in Peter Sellar’s newly reimagined production of Purcell’s The Indian Queen (Perm Opera, Teatro Real Madrid, Bolshoi), which was aired live on Mezzo and released on DVD by Sony Classical. The role would give Mr. Yi his first Golden Mask nomination for Best Opera Actor in 2014, Russia’s National Theatre Award. He also performed the title-role in Leonardo Vinci’s Artaserse, (Opéra Royal de Versailles, Cologne Opera, Concertgebouw Amsterdam).
In 2015 he reprised the role of Hunapu in another production of The Indian Queen at English National Opera which was followed by a staged production, CD recording on Decca Classics, and European tour of Hasse’s long-forgotten Catone in Utica (Staatstheater Wiesbaden, Opéra Royal de Versailles, George Enescu Festival Bucharest, Bergen International Festival, Theater an Der Wien), where he sang the role of Emilia. His portrayal of Emilia garnered him critical attention which lead to an invitation to perform on ARTE channel’s Stars von Morgen, hosted by renown tenor, Rolando Villazón.
Subsequent performances include a string of consecutive Handel operas, beginning with Arminio where he performed the role of Sigismondo (Händel Festspiele Karlsruhe, Theater an Der Wien) with a CD recording on Decca Classics. Immediately following the festival, he made his Oper Frankfurt debut with the role of Fraarte in Handel’s Radamisto. Continuing his trend of singing in Handel operas, he later appeared as Ruggiero in a whimsical production of Alcina (Theater Basel) and Piacere in Il Trionfo del Tempo e del Disinganno (Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre, Moscow) where he received his second nomination and won the Golden Mask for Best Opera Actor in 2019.
Invited back to Theater Basel, he sang the role of Enea in the rarely performed opera, Didone Abbandonata, by Jomelli. He then returned to Oper Frankfurt as Fraarte in a revival of Radamisto and stepped back into the role of Ruggiero in Alcina at Staatstheater Hannover, with half the performances getting canceled from the Covid-19 pandemic.
In addition to his performing, Vince served on the voice faculty at University of Michigan, Western Michigan University, and Belvoir Terrace, a performing and fine arts camp for gifted girls. He received his Bachelor and Master of Music at Boston University and Doctorate of Musical Arts in voice at University of Michigan.