Young-Ok Shin does not look at all like a classical opera diva. She’s slim, she’s hip and the Korean-born soprano is one of the hottest new stars in opera. Only 30, Shin has played lead roles at such major centres as the Bastille in Paris and the Metropolitan in New York City, where critics compared her to the legendary divas Maria Callas and Joan Sutherland. This week, the New York City-based artist opens a Toronto run in the title role of a Canadian Opera Company production of Lucia Di Lammermoor—one of the most sought-after roles in opera. “It is technically very demanding,” says Shin, who adds that Lucia must reach acrobatically high notes and sustain a 20minute aria. “It also requires drama,” she adds. “You really have to be into the part. On stage, I forget about Young-Ok. On stage, I am Lucia.” The final act of this tragic operatic love story, which is set in 17th-century Scotland, contains a mad scene, one of opera’s most famous moments. “It can be very traumatic,” says Shin, “but there is incredible pleasure in performing it. I feel like I’m melting into the music. It makes me feel goose bumps.” No doubt the audience will too.
AN ARTIST WHO CAN SELL
He has offices in Jakarta, Bali and Toronto. And Toronto-born painter Drew Harris has sold his paintings to such multinationals as CocaCola Canada, Pepsi-Cola Canada and the Rothschild International Bank. In fact, for Harris, 35, the art of the deal is just as important as the art on the canvas. “There is the actual work of creating a painting,” says Harris, whose paintings are noted for their large size and bold abstract content. “But then comes the marketing and sales.” And his attention to the bottom line has paid off in the boardrooms of the world where his paintings fetch more than $5,000 and he is known as “the corporate kid.” While Harris laughs at that description, he also says that, in looking back through history, many of the great artists who are well-known today also knew the secret of promotion. “It’s name awareness,” says Harris. “If people have never heard your name before, how are they going to become interested in your work?” The Drew Harris brand is certainly catching on.
MASTER OF INTRIGUE
This doctor earns far more writing books then prescriptions. In fact, Michael Palmer of Boston, a specialist in internal medicine and a fiction author, has already signed a $1-million contract for his next book. His latest work, Silent Treatment, a thriller in which a murderer stalks the halls of a New York City hospital, is on the New York Times list of top-selling books. Still, the 52-year-old doctor, who has written five other best-sellers, including The Sisterhood and Natural Causes, does not want to give up his medical
practice, which now consists mainly of treating drug-addicted doctors. Says Palmer. “There’s a lot of drama in medicine, even life and death.” That raw material has helped Palmer create a winning formula: murder, sex and hospital intrigue, using characters loosely based on his colleagues’ lives. But while Palmer is enjoying great popular success, he has discovered that writing novels does have one negative side effect—bad reviews. ‘They pain me,” says the doctor/author. “I’m not a strong enough person to be thickskinned about bad reviews.” But then Palmer: rich writing the money softens the blow.
His résumé reads like a virtual who’s who of rock ’n’ roll. Veteran musician AÍ Kooper has sung and played guitar with George Harrison, The Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. He has also produced records for Lynyrd Skynyrd and was one of the original members of Blood, Sweat and Tears. Now, the 52-year-old, who has just released the recording Soul of a Man: Al Kooper Live, is involved with two very different bands. He is front man for The I Rekooperators, a rock band o with some of the world’s finest I session players, including David Letterman’s drummer Anton Fig. And he is the musical director for Rock Bottom Remainders, a band that includes accomplished writers, but amateur rockers, Stephen King, Amy Tan, Dave Barry and Matt Groening. Kooper, who says he “likes the challenge” of working with the writers, adds that he has to keep his sense of humor when it comes to the difference in musical talent between the two groups. “I think they’ve done pretty good,” he said of the Remainders. “Their shows sell out and everyone has fun.” And besides, adds Kooper, “It’s all rock ’n’ roll.”
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