World-renowned Operatic Old Waconian returns to CHS

Susan Bullock, Class of 1977, returned to the School on Friday to entertain students, parents and Old Waconians with tales of a life in opera.

Susan is one of the world’s most sought-after British dramatic sopranos and was awarded a CBE to recognise her achievements in 2014.

Students from Year 7 through to Sixth Form interviewed her with questions covering a whole range of topics including singing techniques, favourite directors, how to look after your voice, pre-performance rituals or superstitions, and the practicalities of singing in costumes.

With many operas written in languages other than English one student asked whether Susan always understood what she was singing. The reply was an emphatic “yes” with a follow up stressing the need to understand every word to fully appreciate what you are singing and communicate this to your audience.

After stories of singing in front of the Queen, costume malfunctions at the Proms, and what it was like to sing at the closing ceremony of the Olympics, Susan finished the afternoon by performing two stunning pieces. A lied called “Zueignung” by Richard Strauss, and an aria from the opera Gianni Schicchi by Puccini, “O mio babbino caro”.