The Artistry of the Soprano Julia Bullock

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States on 2019-10-15 20:10Z by Steven

The Artistry of the Soprano Julia Bullock

The New Yorker
2019-11-16

Russell Platt, Composer and Adjunct Associate Professor of Music
Blair School of Music
Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee


Julia Bullock combines a rare onstage aura with a style that is exacting but not fussy, with hardly an unturned phrase. Photograph by Hiroyuki Ito/Getty

It is rare to find a classical singer who can truly project an aura onstage. Those who are young must seem to carry the wisdom of age; those who are older must avoid the risk of royal self-regard. And there is no instrument to hide behind, no violin to seduce, no piano to pound—a singer’s body is, or course, her instrument. But Julia Bullock, a young soprano who performed her Naumburg Foundation recital last Tuesday at the Metropolitan Museum, definitely has it, and she is off to a fine career.

Bullock, an African-American singer from St. Louis who trained at Eastman Bard, and Juilliard, won first prize last year in the Naumburg International Vocal Competition. Over the years, the Naumburg, through its various awards, has had a penchant for honoring interesting singers who don’t fit easily into the standard operatic categories: trailblazers such as Regina Sarfaty, Dawn Upshaw, Barbara Hendricks, and Lucy Shelton, for example. I can’t yet imagine Bullock walking the boards as Tosca or Violetta, but she has made several strategic forays into opera—such as the title role in Purcell’s “The Indian Queen” at Madrid’s Teatro Real and at the English National Opera, and, later this month, she will appear in Saariaho’s “La Passion de Simone,” at the Deutsche Oper Berlin (directed by Peter Sellars). But her recital had its own kind of drama, not the less effective for being so refined…

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Julia Bullock Gets to the Heart of Things

Posted in Articles, Arts, Media Archive, United States, Women on 2019-10-15 01:38Z by Steven

Julia Bullock Gets to the Heart of Things

San Francisco Classical Voice
2017-11-15

Lou Fancher


Julia Bullock in her Carnegie Hall debut | Credit: Hiroyuki Ito/The New York Times

Never in a million years will people viewing Julia Bullock as she strides the War Memorial Opera House floorboards as Dame Shirley suspect there is vulnerability undergirding every step. Nor will the 31-year-old soprano’s direct delivery of transparent tones in the world premiere of John Adams’s Girls of the Golden West, a San Francisco Opera production, hint at the fragile ego and self-doubt she’s worked hard to overcome.

The assumption will be made — even with keen scrutiny and by kindred spirits — that Bullock’s inner engine runs with conscious, creative intensity and is engineered with resilient intellect and the agile instincts of the tap dancer she, during her childhood in St. Louis, Missouri, trained to become.

And every part of all of that — the not so obvious and the apparent — will be true…

…In her role as Dame Shirley, she portrays a real life historical character; a white, educated woman who emerged from the Victorian era and was “stripped of privilege” as she moved across the United States from Boston to San Francisco. Working from archives that primarily include letters written by Louise Clappe (the real name of Dame Shirley), Bullock, as a mixed race 21st-century woman who identifies herself as, “half-white, half-black,” finds points of access. “Shirley [in her letters] shows she communicated with individuals for whom she had no reference points. She was a careful and sensitive observer of the world. She wrote about it with the most sophisticated words she could provide. Her wit has carried me through, kept me from getting pulled down. She has light, even in the dimmest moments.”…

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