From Germany, where she is living now, the American soprano Julia Bullock presents an online triptych of music from her native and adopted homes. Classic lieder form the first panel, Americana the last, with Kurt Weill—a Berliner who wound up on Broadway—as the bridge.
Partnered at the keyboard by the versatile Laura Poe, Bullock checks many boxes. Revelatory art songs by the prophetic Black Americans William Grant Still and Margaret Bonds figure in the mix, alongside excerpts from the John Adams opera Girls of the Golden West. And somehow, everything fits.
Gravitas, when Bullock needs it, never weighs her down. Her mischief, when the spirit moves her, is feather-light, infectious, never coy. At times, her gaze turns inward. Then, with a glance at the camera, she has you on her hook—you personally, as her silent antagonist in a crackling emotional showdown. Working with five of the 16 songs of Robert Schumann’s Dichterliebe (A Poet’s Love, a cycle few women touch), Bullock traces an emotional arc all her own. For the finale, she sequences songs from The Sound of Music as movements in a vocal sinfonietta, yodeling “The Lonely Goatherd” as the scherzo.
Julia Bullock’s Cal Performances recital is available for streaming until April 14
Matthew Gurewitsch writes about opera and classical music for AIR MAIL. He lives in Hawaii