Jian-Hong Zhao was born in Datong in China. He began his career singing traditional Chinese opera in Datong. He studied theatre and music at the Theatre Institute in Beijing then went to on to the Conservatoire of Shanghai to pursue his musical studies. He began his operatic career as a soloist with Shanghai Opera. He completed his studies in Europe at the École Normale in Paris where the jury was unanimous in awarding him prizes for singing and interpretation. Whilst pursuing his career as a soloist, in 2000 he joined the Paris Opera Chorus.