Korean bass baritone Samuel Youn made his international debut 25 years ago when he took the stage in “Faust.”
The year of 1998 was an unforgettable year. Youn won the Treviso Toti dal Monte, a renowned singing competition, not long before his wife was due to give birth to their first child. He was then given a chance to take the stage in Charles Gounod’s opera, “Faust.” From there, he had the opportunity to participate in an audition for the Cologne Opera.
For 25 years since then, he achieved many accomplishments including earning the German title of "Kammersanger” given to distinguished singers of opera and classical music.
Last year, Youn joined the faculty at Seoul National University.
To commemorate the 25th anniversary of his international debut, Youn is preparing a solo concert, the first time in eight years in Korea, titled “From Darkness to Light.”
“I put a lot of thought into the title and program to reflect my career as a signer,” Youn, 52, said during a press conference in Seoul on Friday.
“Some people are good from the get-go, but in my case, in college it appeared that I had little chance as a professional singer,” Youn said, adding that he didn’t stand out among his classmates, many of whom had won awards.
The concert on Oct. 29 is also set to reflect Youn's transition from a period of darkness. “The first half of the program shows somewhat “dark” sentiment with songs by Schubert, Brahms and Purcell that touch the theme of death, love and heartache, and existential questions like Schubert’ “Doppleganer,” Purcell’s “What Power Art Thou?” from opera “King Arthu” and Brahms’ "Nicht merhr zu dir zu gehen.”
Youn said his family and his religious beliefs helped him get through difficult times. Finding the right part was also an important part of overcoming hardship. He was initially a baritone and then changed to a bass when he finally won a competition without much preparation.
“I realized I should choose the part through which I can express myself more,” he said. After one year as a bass singer, Youn said he is more comfortable as a bass-baritone, which falls between the bass and baritone ranges.