Press release

Soprano Julia Bullock Makes Her Premiere as The Met's Artist in Residence

Julia Bullock

The 2018–19 MetLiveArts Artist in Residence, the commanding vocalist Julia Bullock, has created five programs that will be presented throughout the season, with the first, History's Persistent Voice, premiering on Saturday, September 15. Activism and social consciousness are fundamental aspects of Bullock's work, and throughout her Museum residency she will approach The Met collection and its singular history with the aim of bringing to light some of world culture's hidden and suppressed narratives.

Bullock will craft each program, infusing the performances with her opulent soprano vocals and the daring complexity for which she is known. She will collaborate with renowned guest artists such as the multi-instrumentalist and composer Tyshawn Sorey, New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, the American Modern Opera Company (AMOC), and International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE).

Opening the 2018–19 MetLiveArts season is the world premiere of History's Persistent Voice (Saturday, September 15). In dialogue with the exhibition History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift, on view at The Met Fifth Avenue through September 23, Bullock sings the words of pioneering mixed-media Black American artist Thornton Dial and works inspired by other artists in the exhibition, along with traditional slave songs. The texts are set to original compositions by four composers: Tania León, Courtney Bryan, Jessie Montgomery, and Allison Loggins-Hull.

On Friday, September 14, Bullock will also participate in an "Artists on Artworks" evening exploring the works in History Refused to Die: Highlights from the Souls Grown Deep Foundation Gift, including reading the words of the artists who inspired the first program of her residency. The readings will take place in front of the artists' original works and begin at 7:30 p.m.

In December, Bullock will perform at both The Met Fifth Avenue and The Met Cloisters. The Met's 1969 exhibition Harlem on My Mind was inspiration for A Dream Deferred: Langston Hughes in Song (Sunday, December 2, in the Grace Rainey Rogers Auditorium). This program will feature musical settings of poems by Harlem Renaissance poet laureate Langston Hughes, including "Harlem," "Genius Child," and "Song for a Dark Girl," composed by Ricky Ian Gordon, John Musto, and others. Bullock will be joined by soprano Nicole Cabell, New York Philharmonic principal clarinetist Anthony McGill, violinist Jessie Montgomery,andthe Young People's Chorus of New York City.

On Friday and Saturday, December 21 and 22,a radical reinterpretation of the traditional Christmas concert will unfold with an all-new chamber version of John Adams's El Niño, which will premiere in the spiritual setting of The Met Cloisters. The reinterpretation focuses on the intimate relationship between mother and child and will emphasize the essential contributions of women in an otherwise male-centric biblical canon. Titled Nativity Reconsidered, it is arranged for American Modern Opera Company (AMOC) and conducted by Christian Reif, with vocals by Bullock and countertenor Anthony Roth Costanzo, and others.

Preceding El Niño, there will be performance interventions staged by AMOC in the galleries of The Met Cloisters. These performances will bring to life—sonically and physically—the nativity scenes displayed throughout the Museum, while meditating on the many themes of the Christmas story.

On Wednesday and Thursday, January 16 and 17, in The Met's iconic Great Hall, Bullock will inhabit the body of a reimagined Joséphine Baker in a work conceived by Peter Sellars. "One of the most important works of art yet to emerge from the era of Black Lives Matter" (The New York Times), the work, titled Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine, considers the life and legacy of the famous singer, activist, and cultural icon. Perle Noire weaves texts by poet Claudia Rankine and music recomposed by Tyshawn Sorey (both MacArthur Fellows) in a performance with International Contemporary Ensemble (ICE) directed by Zack Winokur and with choreography by Michael Schumacher.

Later this spring, Hans Werner Henze's El Cimarrón (The Runaway Slave) will conclude Bullock's residency—as well as manifest her yearlong vision. This new opera will be performed by AMOC and directed by Zack Winokur. The score—based on the oral autobiography of Esteban Montejo, an Afro-Cuban slave who escaped bondage on a sugar plan­tation, survived in the jungle, and fought for Cuban independence from Spain—shares a powerful narrative about one person's struggle toward freedom. El Cimarrón will be performed on Friday and Saturday, May 10 and 11.

For tickets and information, visit or call 212-570-3949. Tickets are also available at the Great Hall Box Office, which is open Monday–Saturday, 11 a.m.–3:30 p.m.

Bring the Kids for $1 tickets (for children ages 6–16) are available for all performances (unless specifically noted) when accompanied by an adult with a full-price ticket. For more information, visit, call 212-570-3949, or visit the box office.

About MetLiveArts:
The groundbreaking live arts series at The Metropolitan Museum of Art explores contemporary performance through the lens of the Museum's exhibitions and unparalleled gallery spaces with singular performances and talks. MetLiveArts invites artists, performers, curators, and thought leaders to explore and collaborate within The Met, leading with new commissions, world premieres, and site-specific durational performances that have been named some of the most "memorable" and "best of" performances in New York City by The New York TimesNew Yorker, and Broadway World.

About Julia Bullock
Julia Bullock is recognized as an "impressive, fast-rising soprano... poised for a significant career" (The New York Times). Equally at home with opera and concert repertoire, she has captivated and inspired audiences through her versatile artistry, probing intellect, and commanding stage presence.

Highlights from Bullock's international operatic career include a San Francisco Opera debut in the world premiere of Girls of the Golden West; the role of Anne Truelove in a new production by Simon McBurney of The Rake's Progress, which served for her debuts at Festival d'Aix en Provence and Dutch National Opera; Kitty Oppenheimer in John Adams's Doctor Atomic at Santa Fe Opera; and the title role of Purcell's The Indian Queen at the Perm Opera House, The Bolshoi, and Teatro Real with Teodor Currentzis, and at English National Opera, led by Laurence Cummings.

On the concert stage, Bullock opened the 2017–18 Boston Symphony Orchestra season under the baton of Music Director Andris Nelsons in songs of Bernstein, and she was invited by Sir Simon Rattle for debuts with the Berliner Philharmoniker in Saariaho's La passion de Simone and with the London Symphony Orchestra in Delage's Quatre poèmes hindous. She has sung the role of Pamina in Die Zauberflöte with the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by Gustavo Dudamel, and the music of Bernstein served Julia Bullock with debuts both at the New York Philharmonic and at the San Francisco Symphony.

Upcoming performances include the world premiere of Zauberland: An Encounter with Schumann's Dichterliebe, at the Paris Théâtre des Bouffes du Nord, by composer Bernard Foccroulle and writer Martin Crimp. Bullock will perform with French pianist Cédric Tiberghein, and the work will be staged by Katie Mitchell. Bullock also sings the roles of Destiny, Loneliness, and Greta in the world premiere of Fire Shut Up in My Bones, at the Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, with composer Terence Blanchard and screenwriter Kasi Lemmons.

Program Credits:
Julia Bullock as MetLiveArts Artist in Residence is made possible by the Chester Dale Fundand the Stavros Niarchos Foundation.

Nativity Reconsidered is made possible by The Howard & Sarah D.Solomon Foundation. Live Arts programming in The Met Cloisters is made possible by Art Mentor Foundation Lucerne and the Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation.

Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine is made possible in part by the Lavori Sterling Foundation.

Perle Noire: Meditations for Joséphine was funded through ICE's First Page commissioning program with lead support from Elizabeth and Justus Schlichting.

El Cimarrón is made possible by The Howard & Sarah D. Solomon Foundation and Helen Little.


August 30, 2018

Image: Julia Bullock. Photo by Christian Steiner.

Press resources