The former child actor Simon Kyung Lee, born in Pusan, South Korea appeared in two major motion pictures in his native Korea (as “Kyung Jae Lee”) before the idea of singing opera ever entered his mind.
He spent the summer of 2003 studying in Italy, where it was discovered that he had a natural affinity for the verismo style. Carlos Montané and Maestro Ubaldo Gardini gave him confidence that his voice suits for Verdi and Puccini.
In 2004 Simon performed in recitals at the first annual Festival “Notte Musicali Modenesi” in Italy, and then spent the summer in Orlando to participate Sherrill Milne’s Opera Program.
Under the guidance from world-renowned opera star Jennifer Larimore and Giacomo Argall, Simon’s performances include a recent tenor solo at Carnegie Hall, his debut for Haydn’s “Paukenmesse” with the New England Symphony, Giles Corey in “Crucible” and as Cavaradossi in “Tosca”.
He also had rave reviews from critics as Calaf in “Turandot” at the Kansas City Puccini Festival and Utah Festival Opera in 2005.
Additional roles in this versatile Tenor’s repertoire include Alfredo (La Traviata), Radames (Aida), Manrico (Il Trovatore), Riccardo (Un Ballo in Maschera), Rodolfo (La Bohème),3rd Jew (Salome), Luigi (Il Tabarro), Rinuccio (Gianni Schicchi) and even rarely heard Verdi works of I Lombardi (Chicago Premiere with da Corneto Opera as Arvino).
Recently he has performed on the US tour with Teatro Lirico for Turandot, La Bohème and Rigoletto and will continue in Spain, France as well as in Italy for 2012-2014 seasons.
A two time recipient of awards from the National Bel Canto Foundation (in 1999 and 2000), Mr. Lee has utilized his flair with Italian music to his advantage in scores of solo concerts and recitals around the Midwest, including a 1996 gala concert in which the musical artists of North and South Korea performed together on the same Chicago stage for the first time.