Eun Sun Kim Makes San Francisco Opera Debut of "Astonishing Vibrancy and Assurance"

June 28, 2019

Photo by Cory Weaver

Photo by Cory Weaver

Korean conductor Eun Sun Kim has earned widespread critical acclaim for her house debut at San Francisco Opera, where she leads a Rusalka cast that includes Rachel Willis-Sorensen, Jamie Barton, Brandon Jovanovich, and Kristinn Sigmundsson.

Read reviews:

“Magnificent musical values on display from top to bottom. Presiding over everything, in a company debut of astonishing vibrancy and assurance, was conductor Eun Sun Kim, who drew glorious playing from the Opera Orchestra and paced every scene freely but precisely.”

San Francisco Chronicle

“In her San Francisco Opera debut, conductor Eun Sun Kim assuredly drew splendid playing from an ensemble that proved its versatility (the instrumentalists spent the prior night playing Baroque). She brought forward the music’s visceral quality laying deep under the folkloric connotations. More, she succeeded to balance Wagnerian-like statements with subtle invocations of Mendelssohnian delicacy.”

“A detailed and beautifully paced interpretation of the lovely score. Dvorak must have been thinking of Wagner's "Tristan und Isolde" for his passionate final duet between the Prince and Rusalka, and he was probably aiming for some Verdian flavor with scenes between the water nymph and her Water Goblin dad (think "Rigoletto") and appearances by the hideous witch Jezibaba ("Il Trovatore"). Regardless of theatrical influences, Eun Sun Kim underscored [Dvorak’s] unmistakable musical sound with sympathetic support from the orchestra.”

Bay Area Reporter

“A gripping company debut, bringing out the Czech pulse and phrasing under a shiny surface of supple orchestral playing. The Korean-born artist maintained impeccable balances with all the singers and kept the score unfolding with a sense of inevitability. She wrangled the big cast into a cohesive, propulsive engine.”

Seen and Heard International

“Kim draws warm incisive playing from the orchestra, adding to the dramatic impact and underpinning the moving final scene…”

Classical Voice

“Lush, accessible, frequently moving. The dependable San Francisco Opera orchestra, conducted by Eun Sun Kim in her company debut, outdoes itself, especially as the opera soars to its demonic climax.”

“Kim made a strong impression with her company debut, leading a performance that was powerful and passionate. She coaxed glorious playing from the Orchestra…an auspicious debut for her, and the audience responded enthusiastically.”

Parterre Box

“Kim’s shimmering, beautifully contoured performance of the Dvorak’s melody-immersed operatic masterpiece, elicited a brilliant response from the San Francisco Opera Orchestra.”

Opera Warhorses

“Kim drove the emotional flow, pulling the vibrant Dvorak colors from the triple winds of the opera orchestra, urging full-throated force from its strings.”

Opera Today

“Musically and vocally, too, it is carried off with highly impressive results. Within Dvořák’s lush orchestration there’s a whiff of Wagner, a sense of Strauss and a touch of Tchaikovsky among his influences and conductor Eun Sun Kim, in her company debut, captures the darkness, the gossamer-like, the bombastic and mystery of the score with elan.”


“In this capacious and captivating production at the War Memorial Opera House, everything from the highly characterized singing to…the lush yet keenly honed reading of the score, under conductor Eun Sun Kim’s baton in her fine company debut, registers in a vividly visceral, emotionally penetrating way. Nothing feels or sounds gratuitous; just about everything, across three-and-a-half musically and dramatically absorbing hours, seems essential. The music has a cumulative force, culminating in a duet for Rusalka and the Prince of such excruciating tenderness and bone-deep truth that the Liebestod of Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde can’t help but come to mind. Everything has amplitude and authority… Rusalka, the last and clearly best of the company’s three summer productions, is a triumph in all ways. This wonderfully wrought work, last seen her 24 years ago, has returned to the San Francisco Opera stage in a stirring, disturbing, exhilarating way, sure to etch itself in the audience’s memory.”

San Francisco Classical Voice