The upcoming release of the chamber opera Cuatro Corridos by Bridge Records [BRIDGE 9473] in November represents the capstone of a major creative undertaking by the extraordinary American soprano Susan Narucki. The Grammy-winning Ms. Narucki is known not only for the quality of her singing but for her lifelong devotion to American music and especially music of our time. Cuatro Corridos, a one-hour work in four scenes with a libretto by the famed novelist Jorge Volpi, was commissioned by Ms. Narucki in 2011. Ms. Narucki stars in the opera and also serves as its Artistic Director. The world premiere was held at the Conrad Prebys Music Center in San Diego in 2013 and has been followed by 12 additional performances in both the U.S. and Mexico.
The subject of
Cuatro Corridos is human trafficking and is based on the true stories of girls and
young women tricked and trapped into lives of sex slavery and prostitution across the U.S./Mexico border. Ms. Narucki was eager to explore this difficult subject from a bi-national
perspective, and so, instead of collaborating with a single composer to write the music, in a bold and unusual move chose four composers instead, one for each scene. Two of the composers are based in the U.S. -
; and two are based in Mexico -
. The instrumental forces employed by the composers consist only of piano, guitar and percussion - a deliberate attempt to maximize portability and ease of production of this important work. The musicians chosen by Ms. Narucki for the
world premiere recording
, guitar; and
, percussion - also played an essential role in the creation of the opera, from its earliest workshops in Putney, VT.
At its world premiere and in many productions of
since, related workshops including panel discussions with the composers, forums featuring respected regional experts on human trafficking, and joint fund-raising events with human rights organizations have been mounted as well. "Once I became aware of the shocking nature and scope of the human trafficking taking place right under our noses in Southern California," says Ms. Narucki, "I felt I had to do something to raise awareness of this issue. I knew that if I chose the right collaborators, an opera could be an incredibly powerful medium to bring this message to the public." Project details and an excerpt of the opera can be found here:
This is not the only time that Susan Narucki has enlisted the power of music to address pressing social issues. She is producing another chamber opera,
, which examines gun culture in the U.S. through the lens of Sarah Winchester's life. She is collaborating on the work with composer
, and production designer/artist
. With major support from the Creative Capital Foundation,
Inheritance will have its premiere in 2018.
University of California at San Diego
where Ms. Narucki has served on the faculty since 2008, she is the
founder and director
, a performance program now established as part of the curriculum which brings together students from UCSD's graduate program in Contemporary Music Performance with distinguished guest artists and composers. Its aim is to mentor young singers and to commission and present new works, along with the great vocal music repertoire of the 20th and 21st centuries (
With luminous tone and distinctive artistry,
Susan Narucki has earned international acclaim for almost three decades. She has appeared with the
Los Angeles Philharmonic,
San Francisco Symphony,
MET Chamber Ensemble, on
Great Performers at Lincoln Center and at
Carnegie Hall with conductors such as
de Leeuw and
Knussen. A dedicated advocate of the music of our time, Ms. Narucki has given
over one hundred world premieres, and has enjoyed close collaborations with composers including
Crumb. Recent appearances include
Opéra national de Montpellier (Carter's
What Next? and Mathis Nitschke's
International Fesival Cervantino, and the West Coast premiere of Andriessen's
Die Materie with the Los Angeles Philharmonic under Reinbert de Leeuw ("Soprano Susan Narucki, who has long been associated with the role, was a Hadewijch of refined but unmistakable passion."-
Los Angeles Times).
Her extensive discography includes the recording of
George Crumb's Star-Child (Bridge 9095) which
won the Grammy for Best Classical Composition in 2001 For another Bridge CD (9111), of works by
Elliott Carter, Ms. Narucki's performance of
Tempo e Tempi was
nominated for a
Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Performance in 2002. Her recording
The Light that Is Felt: Songs of Charles Ives (New World 80680) with pianist
Donald Berman was selected as
Editor's Choice of BBC Music Magazine. In addition to the Grammy Award, Ms. Narucki's recordings have earned broad critical acclaim, as well as the
Cannes Award (
Best Recording of Works of a Living Composer),
L'Académie du Disque Lyrique's award for
Best Recording of 21st Century Opera (for
Philomela, on Aeon), and others. Her most recent CD is a stunning collection of songs by
Poems of Sheer Nothingness (innova 901).
Over the years
Susan Narucki's creative projects, which
introduce modern music to audiences outside traditional concert hall settings and illuminate broader issues in society, have become recognized and increasingly valued by both the artistic and philanthropic communities. For example the
Cuatro Corridos production earned generous support from the MAP Fund for the Performing Arts, UC MEXUS, Yellow Barn, UC San Diego and the National Endowment for the Arts. The recording of
Cuatro Corridos was supported in part by the Alice M. Ditson Fund for Recorded Music, the University of California and NewMusicUSA.
Ms. Narucki made her professional debut at the 1986 Ojai Festival in the West Coast premiere of György Kurtág's
Messages of the Late R.V. Troussova with members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic led by conductor Kent Nagano. Since that time, she has made over fifty commercial recordings of music of the 20th and 21st centuries in a wide array of styles.
For more information about Susan Narucki, visit kathrynkingmedia.com
and susannarucki.net, and call 831-620-1332.
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