American soprano Susan Narucki is among her country's leading specialists in contemporary music, having performed in more than 100 world premieres in the fields of opera and concerto music. She has worked with some of the world's top composers and has also been active as a chamber musician.
Narucki was born in 1957 in Bellville, New Jersey. Her father, a Polish immigrant, was a silversmith for the Tiffany jewelry firm in New York. Narucki attended Syracuse University, majoring in film and photography, but she decided to switch to singing and enrolled at the San Francisco Conservatory. The career decision proved a correct one. Narucki went on to perform with most of the major American symphony orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Cleveland Orchestra, and San Francisco Symphony. She has appeared at festivals at home and abroad, including the Aspen and Ojai Festivals and the Cabrillo Festival of New American Music. Narucki tended to work with conductors inclined toward contemporary music, and as her career developed she began to specialize in contemporary music herself. Narucki's reputation in the field extends beyond the U.S.; she has appeared with the London Sinfonietta, the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, and the Nieuw Ensemble in the Netherlands. In that country she sang at the Netherlands Opera in the world premiere of Louis Andriessen's opera Writing to Vermeer, and she returned to Los Angeles to appear in the same composer's De Materie. Among the new works for which she has received special acclaim is Elliott Carter's What Next?, in which she played the role of Mama; she has also sung the role at the Opéra Montpellier in France.
Narucki has recorded for Decca, Innova, Bridge, and many other labels, mostly those specializing in contemporary music. In art song performances she has often collaborated with pianist Reinbert de Leeuw. In 2000 a recording of George Crumb's Star-Child on which she appeared won a Grammy award for Best Contemporary Classical Recording, and she later earned a Grammy nomination for her performance on a recording of Carter's Tempo e Tempi. She not only sang but served as artistic director for Cuatro Corridos, a multi-composer opera concerned with the U.S.-Mexican border; she recorded the opera on Innova in 2016. In 2019, she released The Edge of Silence: Works for Voice by György Kurtág on the Avie label. Narucki is professor of music at the University of California, San Diego.