Toulouse stops opera after tenor is arrested for domestic abuse

Toulouse stops opera after tenor is arrested for domestic abuse


norman lebrecht

March 23, 2017

The final performance of Verdi’s Ernani was cancelled in Toulouse on Tuesday after the tenor Alfred Kim was arrested on charges of beating up a young woman in his apartment hotel.

Kim was brought to court the following day. He was given an eight months suspended sentence and a fine of 8,000 Euros. He then took a flight out of France.

The Korean is due to appear in Aida in Brussels in two months’ time, followed by Turandot at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

The cancellation was announced three hours before curtain time ‘due to the unavailability of the tenor Alfred Kim.’

UPDATE: In court reports, Kim was accused of dragging a young woman by the hair and banging her head against the toilet bowl, to the point of breaking it. He claimed to have no recollection of the incident after drinking heavily. ‘I am not used to drinking,’ he said.




  • Antonia P. says:

    I hope that the theatres where Kim is supposed to sing have at heart women rights, as they had, rightly, gay tights.

  • Antonia P. says:

    gay rights of course!

  • Mike Schachter says:

    Perhaps he shouldn’t drink?

  • Richard Gibbs says:

    What he is accused of having done could very easily be confused with a scene directed by Calixto Bieito.

    • Dave says:

      i was the person who rescued the lady. She was traumatised beyond belief, he stood there arrogant and aggressive. He should have been locked up for a long time

  • Stefan Solyom says:

    I worked with Mr. Kim in Toulouse in 2015. Wonderful voice. Sad to hear he cannot hold his liquor. He obviously was aware he wasn’t used to drinking and, thus, should have controlled himself. I do wish his future employers will not take lightly to this issue. There are many tenors of the same calibre as Mr. Kim out there who do not beat up anyone. My thoughts go out to the young woman, and I hope she is somehow coping.

    • Rebecca says:

      “Sorry to hear he can’t hold his liquor “… as though all men are just a given volume of alcohol away from beating a woman’s head against a toilet bowl?
      I for one do not believe that men are inherently violent and merely lowering their inhibitions will make them attack.

      • Stefan Solyom says:

        I’m sorry my comment could be interpreted like that. I take pride in writing clearly. Of course I didn’t mean it as you interpreted it. There is no excuse for such appalling behaviour. None. “I don’t handle liquor well” is something you say when you break a vase. Not a human being’s head.

    • Ted Davidson says:

      Interesting he didn’t think to delete all of his Facebook posts showing him drinking alcohol in various social situations.

  • Brian B says:

    “I’m not used to drinking.” Translation: “I’m a victim!”
    One aspect of the story is why Toulouse apparently had no cover? Almost no American opera house would fail to have a replacement in the event of an emergency.

    • Jacques Chirac says:

      As far as i know the policy here in Toulouse is to fly in an emergency replacement and have the ‘sick’ singer mime his role. This is more financially prudent, apparently. It’s very rare for a singer to be so sick that they cannot mime. Rehearsals went well with the somewhat tetchy mr Kim who was in fine voice. Apparently the violence of this attack was quite extreme. Enough to sert the night manager of the hotel who immediately called the police and an ambulance. I feel for the victim. “Not used to drinking” has nothing to do with anything.

  • fred says:

    Let’s see how brave that director of the Monnaie/Munt opera is now…

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    This sounds like a very lenient sentence given the seriousness of what is reported about the offence. In this case a suspended sentence is surely almost meaningless, given that Mr Kim is presumably relatively unlikely to commit any further offence within the jurisdiction of the French courts (but may well commit another offence outside of their jurisdiction with no further consequences with regard to the original offence within French jurisdiction).

    • me! says:

      If he has no record, it is a perfectly reasonable sentence in line with general sentencing (at least in US and Europe). It is meant to deter him from re-committing (with the internet, and interpol… it is not limited to France the criminal record). Having a criminal record and a large fine and a suspended sentence is all something. It does not, however, appear to be domestic abuse but assault — it doesn’t seem he knew his victim long from the info given

      • Alexander Davidson says:

        Yes, I can see that the suspended sentence could influence sentencing if he were to be convicted in another jurisdiction and the prior conviction was brought to the court’s attention. However, it remains a fact that the basic purpose of a suspended sentence is to deter the offender from committing another offence within the same jurisdiction. If he were to commit another offence within the French jurisdiction he would immediately be committed to prison to serve the eight months which have been suspended on condition that he does not commit another offence within the jurisdiction within, presumably, a period of time determined by the court. Another jurisdiction may look less favourably upon him on account of his previous conviction, but it will not have the power to commit him to prison to serve the sentence which is currently suspended.

  • E.F. Mutton says:

    He had nothing Toulouse, evidently

  • Jessica says:

    Apparently he is liable for the costs of cancelling the performance on Tuesday. I wonder how much that is? €60k?

  • Ana Luiza Daltro says:

    So let me see if I got this right: the man bangs a woman’s head against a toiltet bowl to the point of breaking it, blames alcohol for what he did, is not in prison right now and will sing in Brussels and Covent Garden next??? Really?????

    • Alexander Davidson says:

      Sentencing for violent crime in the UK is often derisory. It seems that that is the case in France too. I don’t know exactly what the situation is in France, but in the UK our prisons are overcrowded with people who don’t really need to be there, e.g. people with mental health problems, people with substance misuse problems, and people who have committed offences against property. These people could be better dealt with through non-custodial means, e.g. treatment programmes, community-based sentences, severe financial penalties, etc. Prison is really most appropriate for violent offenders where there is a need for public protection, deterrence, harsh punishment, and some indication of the seriousness with which society regards the crime. Personally, I’d say that smashing somebody’s head against a toilet bowl would probably deserve an immediate custodial sentence, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Alexander Davidson says:

    Having read the original French article a little more closely, I think that Norman has perhaps somewhat exaggerated the seriousness of the assault: “Kim was accused of dragging a young woman by the hair and banging her head against the toilet bowl, to the point of breaking it.” A toilet bowl is in fact extremely tough, and if a human skull were to be struck against it with sufficient force to break the bowl I would imagine that the victim would probably be killed. She would at the very least sustain a serious head injury. I have never tried to break a toilet bowl, but I imagine that it would have to be done with a hammer. What the article actually says, however, is, “au point de briser (!) l’abattant”, which I believe would be more accurately translated as “to the point of breaking (!) the seat”. That is, of course, still a very serious assault, but it is certainly not as serious as smashing somebody’s head against an immovable object with sufficient force to shatter a piece of thick vitreous china.

  • Scott Merrell says:

    What a disturbing story. I wonder how the audiences in Brussels and London will receive him.