Amid all the talk about lack of diversity at this year’s Academy Awards, one snub received little attention in coverage of Sunday’s ceremony in Hollywood.
Sumi Jo, a Grammy-winning South Korean lyric coloratura soprano, was not asked to sing one of the best original song nominees, “Simple Song #3” by David Lang from the movie “Youth.”
Only three of the five nominated songs were performed: “Writing’s on the Wall” by Sam Smith and Jimmy Napes from “Spectre” (which won the Oscar), “Til It Happens to You” by Lady Gaga and Diane Warren from “The Hunting Ground,” and “Earned It” by The Weeknd, Ahmad Balshe, Jason Daheala Quenneville and Stephan Moccio from “Fifty Shades of Grey.”
“Manta Ray” by J. Ralph and Anohni from “Racing Extinction” also was not performed. Anohni, only the second transgender person to be nominated for an Academy Award, decided not to attend the ceremony.
In an interview on the red carpet with Variety, Lang and Jo commented on being omitted from the program.
“We feel like we represent some of the diversity as well,” said Lang. “There’s actually a huge variety of people that are working in our field, and in fairness letting everyone sing would be a way to show it.”
The producers might have been worried that the audience would not like opera, but “Sumi is one of the great artists of our time, and I think if people heard her they would love her,” Lang added.
“I’m quite disappointed,” Jo commented. “For me it was very important to perform this beautiful ‘Simple Song #3’ because it was nominated for Golden Globe and Critics’ Choice and the Oscars, and I was really looking forward to perform in front of everybody.”
Jo appears as herself in Paolo Sorrentino’s comedy-drama, which stars Michael Caine, Harvey Keitel, Rachel Weisz, Paul Dano and Jane Fonda.