Joo Won Kang - Baritone

Joo Won Kang, Baritone

Joo Won Kang, a native of South Korea, is consistently establishing himself as one of the most talented baritones today, both with audience and critics. Highlights of Mr. Kang’s 2016-2017 season include his debut at the Wexford Festival, Ireland where he sang the leading role of Corrado in Donizetti’s Maria de Rudenz with great success. Of his performance, Opera News Magazine called his “...The standout voice of this year’s festival…” He will sing the role of Chou-Enlai in John Adam’s Nixon in China with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, conducted by the composer. This summer he sings Germont in La Traviata with PORT opera, and in the fall he returns to San Francisco Opera to sing Ping in Turandot, which opens their new season. Additional upcoming debuts include Arizona Opera, and Opera Theatre of St. Louis.

In  2015-16 season, Mr. Kang returned to Wolf Trap Opera to sing  Sharpless in Madama Butterfly at the Filene Centre, with the National Symphony Orchestra. In 2015-16 He also sang the title role in Eugene Onegin with North Carolina Opera, Figaro in Il Barbiere di Siviglia with Fort Worth Opera, and his debut in Les Pêcheurs de Perles with Seattle Opera.

His engagements for the 2014-15 season included Marcello in San Francisco Opera’s family performances of La Bohème. He also made debuts as Guglielmo in Così fan tutte with Opera Naples, and as Germont in La Traviata with North Carolina Opera. He then went to the Spoleto Festival USA, to sing in the World Premiere of Huang Ruo's opera Paradise Interrupted, which he repeated in Singapore and at the Lincoln Center Festival.

Mr. Kang made his debut with Korea National Opera in the new opera Soul Mate, and joined the roster of Wolf Trap Opera performing the double role of Le Directeur and Le Gendarme in Les Mamelles de Tirésias as well as Moralès in Carmen with the National Symphony Orchestra.

As a member of the 2011 Merola Opera Program, he was invited to join San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler Fellowship, where he was a member for two years. Mr. Kang appeared on the stage of San Francisco’s War Memorial Opera House, in a variety of roles including Captain Gardiner in Heggie’s Moby Dick, which was televised nationally on PBS and released on DVD. With the company he sang the role of Figaro in San Francisco Opera’s family performances of The Barber of Seville. Prior to his time in San Francisco, Mr. Kang was a member of the Young Artist Program at Florida Grand Opera, where his roles included Germont in La Traviata.

Mr. Kang has been a Top Prize winner in many important vocal competitions including First Prize Winner in the Gerda Lissner International Competition, Opera Index Vocal Competition, Giulio Gari International Competition, Palm Beach International Competition, and the Ades Vocal Competition at MSM as well as Semi-Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions.

Joo Won Kang is the first prize winner of Fort Worth Opera’s, 2014 MacCammon Vocal Competition, as well as the Audience Favorite prize. As a result of this success, he was invited to present recitals both in Fort Worth and New York City.

Mr. Kang received his Master’s Degree at the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor’s Degree at Yon-sei University in Korea.

Opera Repertoire

Composer Opera Role
Adams Nixon in China Cho En-Lai
Bizet Le pecheur de perles Zurga*
Donizetti Maria de Rudenz Corrado
Heggie Moby Dick Captain Gardiner
Mozart Cosi fan tutte Guglielmo
Mozart Le nozze di Figaro Count Almaviva
Poulenc Les Mamelles de Tiresias Theater Director
Puccini La Boheme Marcello
Puccini Madama Butterfly Sharpless
Puccini Turandot Ping*
Rossini Il barbiere di Siviglia Figaro
Tchaickovsky Eugene Onegin Eugene Onegin
Verdi Falstaff Ford
Verdi Rigoletto Rigoletto
Verdi La Traviata Germont
*In preparation

Press Acclaim

“As Corrado, Joo Won Kang’s command of line and phrasing, solid vocal core and beautiful tone made him the STANDOUT VOICE of this year’s Festival.”

Brian Kellow, Opera News

“It helps that Wexford has assembled a superb cast, led by Korean Joo Won Kang’s radiant Corrado. How rare to have a Donizetti baritone role of such meatiness, and how wonderful to have a singer to take full advantage of that – even from top to bottom, and with a lovely sense of line through even the fussiest of passages. His opening “Eglia, ancora non giunge” was a stand-out.”

Alexandra Coughlin,

​“Korean Baritone Joo Won Kang is consistently exciting as Corrado”

George Hall,

​“Equally fine was baritone Joo Won Kang (singing a role which was premiered by great Donizetti baritone Giorgio Ronconi) as Corrado Waldorf. His rich and powerful instrument had no problems with Donizetti’s line; the baritone gets a lot of the best music here. (Kang also performed at a stunning recital which ran the gamut from Beethoven to some beautiful songs from his native Korea; his is a name to watch for.)”

“The singers were all top-notch… For all Corrado’s despicable character traits, one understood why Maria kept coming back for more with singing this good from the former lover. Joo Won Kang delivered a fine performance of a difficult role, his honeyed baritone voice ringing true from the start….”

Andrew Larkin,

“Corrado requires a kind of Verdi baritone and is the character who has the most to sing throughout the opera. The role was played by Joo Won Kang, who has an attractive and important voice.”

José M. Irurzun,

“The week’s knockout recital was saved for the final spot, on November 5. Korean baritone Joo Won Kang gave an exemplary performance from beginning to end, superbly partnered at the piano by Andrea Grant. His Golden-Age tone and superb phrasing ignited Beethoven’s “Adelaide,” and he lent his formidable interpretive skills to Gerald Finzi’s cycle of Shakespeare songs, “Let Us Garlands Bring.” Kang’s flawless judging of just how much emotion to invest made “Come Away, Death” and “Fear No More the Heat o’ the Sun” unforgettable listening experiences. His English diction is excellent, and he made Fiddler on the Roof’s “If I Were a Rich Man” entirely his own. Before his breathtaking, full-bodied performance of Die Tote Stadt’s “Tanzlied,” he spoke of the time he had spent at the festival—“this beautiful memory of Wexford. I am having this memory, and bringing this memory to my home.” It was a sentiment that was sure to resonate with many in the audience.”

Brian Kellow,

“McCammon winner Joo Won Kang stands out!

The star of the show was Figaro himself-baritone Joo Won Kang.

He blew away the competition in the Fort Worth Opera’s 2014 McCammon voice Competition, winning the audience award, as well as the judges’ nods. It was clear when he first came onstage Saturday night that the MAGIC was still there!”

Olin Chasm, The Dallas Star Telegraph

“Joo Won Kang, as the eponymous barber Figaro, seems a BORN COMEDIAN! Unflaggingly spirited..And what a GORGEOUS voice! It’s a baritone both substantive and well-focused, nimble and capable of marvelous colorations.”

Scott Cantrell, Dallas News

“Figaro the barber was MASTERFULLY sung by baritone Joo Won Kang!”

Laurie Lynn Lindemeier, The Column

“This is Figaro’s show, and the FWO wisely cast baritone Joo Won Kang, the Top Winner in the company’s 2014 McCammon Voice Competition, in the role. He turns in a STELLAR performance!”

Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, TheaterJones

The cast was – in a word – spectacular. Onegin was richly and evenly portrayed by baritone Joo Won Kang

​“Joo Won Kang was a wonderfully expressive Sharpless”

Wolf Trap Opera

Anne Midgette, The Washington Post

“The three leading roles were sung exquisitely by rising starts of the opera world. Joo Won Kang as Germont, portrayed a complex character. Not a villain, but a hero, his stentorian, precise baritone brought pathos to the opera’s second act.”


“As Germont, baritone Joo Won Kang used his powerful, rounded tone to characterize Germont’s bullying authority, but also warmly projected Germont’s lyrical, reflective moments.”

News and Observer

Les Mamelles de Tiresias, Wolf Trap Opera - “The whole thing is introduced by a stage manager, sung with strength and aplomb by Joo Won Kang.”


“But the strongest element by far was the performance of the South Korean baritone Joo Won Kang, a former FGO Young Artists now in San Francisco Opera’s prestigious Adler program. He brough a rich, focused tone to the role of Alfredo’s father, Giorgio Germont, singing with warm humanity in the aria Di Provenza and stern paternal authority as he admonished his son for humiliating Violetta.”


“Without discounting the estimable contributions of each of the eleven singers, three stood out. Erin Johnson, Ao Li and baritone Joo Won Kang, who departs after a phenomenal showing. If these three do not score major roles in major houses well before the end of the decade, something is very wrong with the world.”

“In Kang’s two Verdi scenes, first as Simon Boccanegra to Soprano Marina Harris’ Amelia, and then as Rodrigo in “Io mio Carlo…Per me giunto”, he confirmed that he is, if not THE Verdi baritone of the next decade, then one of the select few who will inherit the mantle. Not only does he have a tremendous voice that projects a fireworks display of dark colorations, but he also possesses the impeccable control needed to taper Boccanegra’s final utterance, “Figlia” to a breath taking thread.”


“Korean Baritone dominates McCammon Voice Competition…Joo Won Kang dominated the 2014 McCammon Voice Competition on Saturday afternoon, taking not only the competition’s $15,000 first prize but also the audience-favorite award by the largest margin in the contest’s 29 years.”

“McCammon officials said that Kang, 32, was voted the audience favorite by a 300 percent margin over the rest of the field. In addition to the cash prize Kang will be awarded with a role with the Fort Worth Opera.”

“That Kang was going to be a powerful contender was obvious from the first notes of Figaro’s “Largo al factotum” from Rossini’s Barber of Seville. His performance exuded maturity, self-confidence and professionalism as well as an appealing vocal quality. He also exhibited the ability to master music of a very varied character, with the contrasting “Di Provenza” from Verdi’s La Traviata.”

“Baritone Joo Won Kang of Seoul, South Korea, won the top prize in the advanced division. Kang sang “Vision Fugitive” from Act II of Massenet’s “Hérodiade”, a work that rarely gets a staging anymore but from which this aria still survives. Kang has a very fine, attractive voice, and excellent technique, which was in evidence particularly in the transition to the final recurrence of the main melody, which Kang handled deftly. This was a performance of substantial smoothness and warmth.”


“A fellow bohemian, the painter Marcello, was portrayed by Joo Won Kang who’s powerful melodious baritone was a high point of the afternoon.”

San Francisco voice

“Possessing a natural instrument of precisely the correct weight for the role, the voice secure throughout the range and the upper extension reaching top G without strain, Joo Won Kang was a Germont of severity, moral authority, and ultimately, great sympathy.”

“Mr. Kang’s account of “Di Provenza”, one of the greatest arias for the baritone voice (and one of the most difficult to sing well), was exquisite, his breath control equal to the demands of the music.”

Verdi baritones are some of the rarest creatures in Opera. Hearing one on good form is a matchless pleasure. Hearing one in a city like Raleigh is unexpected, but Mr. Kang distinguished North Carolina Opera’s LA TRAVIATA with a Germont as good as the BEST IN THE WORLD, past and present!

Voix des Artes


Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Egli ancora non giunge, MARIA DE RUDENZ, Wexford Festival, 2016

Joo Won Kang with Tenor Jesus Garcia, Il Primo De'beni, MARIA DE RUDENZ, Wexford Festival, 2016

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Vieni in quel giorno essa m'attende, MARIA DE RUDENZ, Wexford Festival, 2016

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Di Provenza, La Traviata, Verdi, Emerging Artists NY Debut Recital, Forth Worth Opera's McCammon competition winner, Opera America, September, 2014

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Pierrot's Tanzlied, Die Tode Stadt, Korngold, McCammon Voice Competition, 2014

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Ja vas lyublyu, Pique Dame, Tchaichovsky, Viñas 2014

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, è sogno o realta?, Falstaff, Verdi, Viñas 2014

Joo Won Kang, Baritone, Cento Leggiadre vergini, Il Corsaro, Verdi, Adler Fellows Concert, San Francisco Opera, 2012

Press Kit

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Hi-Res Headshot