Susan Bullock

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Susan Bullock

  • Rusalka, O, moon high up in the deep, deep sky (O silver moon)
  • Suo Gan
  • West Side Story, Tonight (Balcony scene)
  • Madama Butterfly, ~, Bimba, dagli occhi
  • Madama Butterfly, Un bel dì vedremo
  • Ynys y Plant, 'Children's Island'
  • Carmen, Parle-moi de ma mère!
  • Folk Song Arrangements, O waly waly
  • Follies, Losing My Mind
  • Bugeilio'r Gwenith Gwyn, 'Watching the White Wheat
  • (Le) nozze di Figaro, '(The) Marriage of Figaro', ~, Dove sono
  • Gwynt yr haf
  • Madama Butterfly, ~, non v’avvicinate
  • Arafa Don
  • (La) traviata, ~, Parigi, o cara
  • Because
  • O! Na byddai'n haf o hyd
  • (Das) Land des Lächelns, 'Land of Smiles', Von Apfelblüten einem Kranz
  • Carmen, ~, La fleur que tu m'avais jetée
  • Bugail Aberdyfi
  • Fedora, Amor ti vieta
  • Galwad y Tywysog
  • (La) Bohème, 'Bohemian Life', O soave fanciulla
  • Mae hiraeth yn y môr
  • Roméo et Juliette, 'Romeo and Juliet', ~, Ah! lève-toi, soleil
  • Gwynt yr haf

Endearingly old-fashioned, these recitals mix songs and operatic arias indiscriminately, and present both with piano accompaniment. A pleasant change: you can listen to the singers, both of whom are well worth the hearing. Susan Bullock was a Ferrier Prize-winner in 1984, joined ENO the next year, and has since, at home and abroad, sung in a wide variety of roles, most notably Butterfly, Jenufa and (this year at Glyndebourne) Lisa in The Queen of Spades. Arthur Davies has for some 20 years or more been our principal lyrical tenor, and if this is his first solo recital record then that is a scandal. Annette Bryn Parri plays for both singers, and very well too, even in the Puccini numbers which don't really 'go' on the piano – though in many a concert-hall and musical evening at home they have 'gone' quite acceptably a great many times over the years.
Susan Bullock has a fine natural lyric soprano voice that has kept its purity pretty well (a little wear appears on the surface in the louder, higher passages). She sings with apparent affection, as we find from the start in Rusalka's song to the moon. She makes a lovely Micaela to Davies's sensitive Don Jose, and sustains her line beautifully in the 'Dove sono' melody. He gives a fine account of the Flower Song, refined at the points (start and finish) where refinement is most in need, shaping his phrases well, and appealing with sincerity. There are many fine things here, but the voice has grown weightier since his best 'Heddle Nash' days when nobody bothered to record him. He still passes the formidable test of Romeo's cavatina with credit; but I'd love to have a record of him singing it ten years ago.
Both recitals include half a dozen or so Welsh songs, and are clearly aimed at Welsh listeners. They are of course famous for belonging to a musical nation, and perhaps need no help from synopsis, text or translation over the operatic excerpts in French, Italian or Czech. Anyway, they get none. And the rest of us get very little help over the Welsh songs. At least in the soprano's recital there is a translation of the titles; in the tenor's, not even that. A phone-call to Cardiff enables me to supply them: Arafa Don means ''Slow down, wave'', Bugail Aberdyfi is ''The Shepherd of Aberdovey'', Galwad y Tywysog ''The call of the Prince'', and Mae hiraeth yn y mor ''There is yearning in the sea''. It would have been quite easy, then, for Sain to have afforded at least this much enlightenment (like those Latin 'unseens' that had the title in English and left you to guess at the rest). In O! Na byddai'n haf o hyd I am told there is a misprint, and that the third word should be ''fyddai'' (''Oh, that it were always summer!''). Both records end with the same duet, Gwynt yr haf, which the Susan Bullock disc renders as ''The Summer Wind''. Orchestra and bathroom resonance are added to this. It seems mildly deplorable on first acquaintance, totally regrettable on second.'

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