But it was Julia Bullock, who turned out to be the opera’s emotional powerhouse. Her delicate soprano, which hit the score’s high notes convincingly, gave the character depth and sincerely without making it boring and unnecessarily prim. It is a large role and Bullock, just as Paul Appleby, was superb in the final scene to which she gave a contained yet deeply moving interpretation..
Operawire, Malina Gueorguiev
This is the kind of great Schubert singing that were I not to hear another song sung this year, it wouldn’t be a wasted year.
Los Angeles Times, Mark Swed
American vocalist Julia Bullock is “a musician who delights in making her own rules” (New Yorker). Combining versatile artistry with a probing intellect and commanding stage presence, she has, in her early 30s, already headlined productions and concerts at some of the preeminent arts institutions worldwide. An innovative programmer whose artistic curation is in high demand, she was recently named 2019-20 Artist-in-Residence of San Francisco Symphony, while her other curatorial positions include 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, opera-programming host of new broadcast channel All Arts, and founding core member of the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC). Chosen as one of WQXR’s “19 for 19” artists to watch this year, Ms. Bullock is also aprominent voice of social consciousness and activism. As Vanity Fair notes, she is “young, highly successful, [and] politically engaged,” with the “ability to inject each note she sings with a sense of grace and urgency, lending her performances the feel of being both of the moment and incredibly timeless.”
This past fall, Ms. Bullock launched her season-long tenure as 2018-19 Artist-in-Residence of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Celebrating this opportunity to explore ideas about arts institutions and their history of marginalization, appropriation, and objectification, she has curated five thought-provoking programs in some of the museum’s most iconic spaces: a recital combining traditional slave songs with the world premieres of new Met commissions from four women of color, Tania León, Courtney Bryan, Jessie Montgomery, and Allison Loggins-Hull; a program of Langston Hughes poetry and settings, featuring clarinetist Anthony McGill and the Young People’s Chorus of New York; a new chamber arrangement of John Adams’s Christmas oratorio, El Niño, at the Cloisters; Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, a musical portrait of Josephine Baker that was conceived by Ms. Bullock in collaboration with Peter Sellars and written for her by MacArthur Fellows Tyshawn Sorey and Claudia Rankine; and AMOC’s upcoming account of Hans Werner Henze’s El Cimarrón (“The Runaway Slave”).Read More
The Met residency crowns a banner 2018-19 season for Ms. Bullock. She sings two more world premieres: Zauberland (Le pays enchanté), which juxtaposes Schumann’s Dichterliebe with original songs by Bernard Foccroulle and Martin Crimp, under Katie Mitchell’s direction at Paris’s Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord; and Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones, a coming-of-age story inspired by Charles M. Blow’s memoir, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. She also reprises Dame Shirley, the leading role she created in Adams’s Girls of the Golden West, for the opera’s European premiere at Dutch National Opera; gives the Boston premiere of Perle Noire: Meditation for Joséphine at Harvard’s OBERON; makes her Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra debut in Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915; and gives a North American recital tour with her frequent piano partner, John Arida.
Ms. Bullock recently made several key operatic debuts: at San Francisco Opera in the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West, at Santa Fe Opera as Kitty Oppenheimer in Adams’s Doctor Atomic, at Festival d’Aix-en-Provence and Dutch National Opera as Anne Truelove in Stravinsky’s The Rake’s Progress, and at the English National Opera, Spain’s Teatro Real, and Russia’s Perm Opera House and Bolshoi Theatre in the title role of Purcell’s The Indian Queen. Her wide-ranging repertoire also encompasses the title roles of Massenet’s Cendrillon, Ravel’s L’enfant et les sortilèges, and Janaček’s The Cunning Little Vixen; Monica in Menotti’s The Medium; Susanna in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro; and Pamina in his The Magic Flute, which she sang on tour in South America under the direction of Peter Brook and in concert with Gustavo Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
The collaboration with Dudamel was just one of Ms. Bullock’s important recent orchestral engagements. Under Andris Nelsons’s leadership, she headlined the Bernstein centennial gala that launched the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s 2017-18 season. Bernstein’s music was also the vehicle for debuts with the San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas; at the Hollywood Bowl, with Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic; with Japan’s NHK Symphony under Paavo Järvi; and with the New York Philharmonic, in open-air concerts under Alan Gilbert’s direction in Vail, Santa Barbara, and multiple New York City parks. At the invitation of Sir Simon Rattle, she made debuts with both the Berlin Philharmonic, in Kaija Saariaho’s La passion de Simone, and the London Symphony Orchestra, in Maurice Délage’s song cycle Quatre poèmes hindous. Her other concert highlights include performing Adams’s El Niño with the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
In 2014, Ms. Bullock gave her first U.S. recital tour, capped by her debut at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Since then, she has maintained a thriving solo career. Last year, she embarked on a high-profile North American recital tour that featured masterclasses and local school performances in each city, with dates at New York’s Carnegie Hall, the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society, Cal Performances at UC Berkeley, and Boston’s Celebrity Series. Other solo performance highlights include her 2017 Disney Hall debut and appearances at the 2016 Mostly Mozart and Ojai Music festivals, where she collaborated with Roomful of Teeth and the International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) on Peter Sellars’s new staging of La passion de Simone and on the world premiere of Josephine Baker: A Portrait, the original prototype for Perle Noire.
Ms. Bullock’s growing discography already comprises a number of distinguished recordings. Her account of Quatre poèmes hindous with Rattle and the London Symphony was captured live on DVD, as was her title role appearance in Sellars’s production of The Indian Queen for Sony Classical. Selected as one of the New York Times’s “25 Best Musical Tracks of 2018,” her starring role in Adams’s Doctor Atomic, recorded with the composer conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra, was a nominee for the 2018 Grammy Award for Best Opera Recording. This marked Ms. Bullock’s second appearance on a Grammy-nominated recording, following her live account of West Side Story with Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, a nominee for Best Musical Theater Album in 2014.
Her other honors include the 2016 Sphinx Medal of Excellence, a 2015 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship, the 2015 Richard F. Gold Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, Lincoln Center’s 2015 Martin E. Segal Award, First Prize at the 2014 Naumburg International Vocal Competition, and First Prize at the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions. In addition to being chosen as one of WQXR’s “19 for 19” artists to watch, she was previously featured among the “Best Classical Music of 2018” by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times,Washington Post, and Philadelphia Inquirer; as one of Opera News’s “18 to Watch in 2018-19”; and among the New York Times’s “Best Classical Music of 2016.”
Ms. Bullock’s political engagement is informed by her own mixed heritage, and she is committed to integrating community activism with her musical life. As well as trying to undertake outreach work in each city she visits, she serves on the Advisory Board of Turn The Spotlight, a foundation designed to empower women and people of color, both on stage and behind the scenes, to make a more equitable future in the arts. She has also organized and participated in benefit concerts for the FSH Society, which funds research for Muscular Dystrophy; the Medicine Initiative for New York’s Weill Medical Center; and the Shropshire Music Foundation, a non-profit serving war-affected children and adolescents through music education and performance programs in Northern Ireland, Kosovo, and Uganda.
Julia Bullock was born in St. Louis, Missouri, where she joined the artist-in-training program at Opera Theatre of Saint Louis while in high school. She went on to earn her Bachelor’s degree at the Eastman School of Music, her Master’s degree in Bard College’s Graduate Vocal Arts Program, and her Artist Diploma at New York’s Juilliard School. It was there that she first met her husband, conductor Christian Reif, with whom she now lives in New York City and San Francisco.
San Francisco Symphony 2019-20 Artist-in-ResidenceVideo
Girls of the Golden West, Dutch National Opera
History's Persistent Voice Profile, Metropolitan Museum of Art
The Rake's Progress, Dutch National OperaVideo
Quatre poèmes hindous, London Symphony Orchestra
Bill Palant, Étude Arts
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