Purity of tone, an accomplished vocal technique and a radiant stage personality mark Youngok Shin an operatic contender with a future. Already she has sung in lyric-theater centers of London, New York and Paris with success.
Friday night, the Korean soprano gave an operatic recital in the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion at the Music Center, assisted by conductor Guido Ajmone-Marsan, who led the apparently ad-hoc L.A. Theater Orchestra impressively.
The trueness of her glowing, focused voice is Shin's strongest asset. Otherwise, the instrument's size and distinctiveness will probably fail to make it competitive with greatness. She sings beautifully, but does not specialize in drama, text-pointing or musical insights.
Shin demonstrated her versatility amply in Mozart's "L'Amero, saro costante," in the Mad Scene from "Lucia di Lammermoor" by Donizetti, in "Piangero, la sorte mia," from Handel's "Giulio Cesare," in the art-song, "Villanelle" by Eva dell'Acqua, and in arias from "La Sonnambula" and "Romeo et Juliette."
For her, high notes up to E-flat hold no terrors; she sings them as unfazedly and as firmly in tune as all the notes in her range. Only her lowest octave, the one above Middle C, sometimes grows weak.
Conducting the L.A. Theater Orchestra, a 51-member agglomeration with former L.A. Philharmonic Concertmaster Sidney Weiss as its leader, Ajmone-Marsan showed temperament and musical astuteness in scrappy, solid run-throughs of the overtures to "Nozze di Figaro" and "Guillaume Tell." Violinist Weiss and flutist Heather Lockwood played their obbligato solos solidly and with appropriate flair.