|Year of Birth:||1959|
Hong Hei-Kyung (born July 4, 1959), often known in the west as Hei-Kyung Hong, is a South Korean-American operatic lyric soprano.
Hong was born in Gangwon, South Korea, and studied at Yea Won Music School in Seoul. Through scholarships she went to the United States alone at age 15 to study at the Juilliard School of Music in New York and its American Opera Center. While at Juilliard, she appeared in a number of productions with the American Opera Center. At the Juilliard School of Music she also participated in the master classes of Tito Gobbi, Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, Walter Legge, and Gérard Souzay. She later studied voice privately with Shirlee Emmons. She was one of four young singers invited to attend Herbert von Karajan's opera classes at the 1983 Salzburg Festival.
In 1981, she sang professionally for the first time when composer Gian Carlo Menotti invited her to perform at the Spoleto Festival in Italy and Charleston, South Carolina. At first, she used the stage name "Suzanne Hong" because Kurt Adler of Juilliard suggested she use a name that could easily be pronounced by English speakers. However, Hong quickly reverted to her given Korean name after the Spoleto Festival; she said that all her friends in the Juilliard School of Music persuaded her to use "her own beautiful Korean name".
As a winner of the 1982 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, she made her Metropolitan Opera debut as Servilia in Mozart's opera La clemenza di Tito on November 17, 1984. Beginning with minor roles such as the Celestial Voice in Don Carlo, Virgin in Samson and Barbarina in Le nozze di Figaro, she got to sing a major role for the first time at the Met – Mimì in La bohème on January 7, 1987. Since then, she has gradually moved into main roles such as Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Adina in L'elisir d'amore, and Gilda in Rigoletto. Since the mid-1990s she has specialized in more lyric roles including Liù in Turandot and Countess Almaviva in Le nozze di Figaro.