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NEWS


Dora Nomination

Russell has been nominated for a Dora Award in the category of Outstanding Performance in an Opera for his appearance as the Duke of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux at the Canadian Opera Company in May 2014. The awards will handed out on Monday June 23, 2014 in Toronto.

 

Interview with Steven Mazey in the Ottawa Citizen

Russell speaks about singing the Fauré Requiem with the National Arts Centre Orchestra, in recital with Monica Whicher and Carolyn Maule at Chamberfest in July, and making his role debut as Ford in the Canadian Opera Company's Falstaff in the 14-15 season.

Read the full interview on the Ottawa Citizen website

 

Russell Makes his Role Debut as the Duke of Nottingham in Roberto Devereux at the Canadian Opera Company

"Baritone Russell Braun is such a fine actor that he managed to establish the Duke of Nottingham as an emotional tinderbox beneath his initially innocuous exchanges with Sara and his fervent defense of Devereux. It was therefore no surprise, when Nottingham found the scarf Sara had embroidered for Devereux, that his stunned reaction should turn into the unstoppable rage that was so frightening in his Act III scene with Sara. Though he was able to chill the natural warmth of his voice, Braun added a plaintive note to Nottingham's fiercest scenes with Sara and Devereux that expressed the depth of suffering beneath his anger." (Opera News, 30 April 2014)

"Braun, his baritone at the peak of its powers, makes Nottingham's descent from concerned statesman to suspicious husband palpable." (NOW Magazine, 29 April 2014)

"It is always a pleasure to hear baritone Russell Braun perform. I have never seen him play a villain before and was deeply impressed by his ability to infuse his naturally sweet voice with a menacing edge." (Mooney-on-Theatre, 27 April 2014)

"Such smart design, together with the intense, highly watchable chemistry of mezzo-soprano McHardy and baritone Braun, whispers of divided loyalties and unspoken grudges within the union. The Act III scene between the two is particularly unsettling, ending in an implied filial rape made all the more visceral for Braun's outburst of rage matched only by the intensity of his chocolatey tone; the Canadian baritone channels outrage, hurt, and an ugly kind of chauvinism that comes across as clearly in his actions as it does in his vocal lines." (Bachtrack, 26 April 2014)

"Braun also let the drama of his role empower his performance, especially in those scenes with his wife when the full extent of her betrayal seeps into his consciousness...Braun was at his best when he made you forget the vocal calisthenics involved in his performance, and forced you to concentrate on the passion within." (Globe and Mail, 26 April 2014)

"The always impeccable Russell Braun took the dangerously one-dimensional jealous ravings of the Duke of Nottingham and parlayed them into a moving portrait of a man driven mad by his suspicions…" (Toronto Star, 26 April 2014)

 
International Opera Award Nomination

Russell's recording featuring Der fliegende Holländer and Le Vaisseau Fantome is short-listed for a 2014 International Opera Award in the Complete Opera CD category.

Awards will be handed out at a gala on April 7th at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.

 

New Release: Russell as Troïl in Dietsch's Le Vaisseau Fantome for Naïve Records

“...through Magnus’s stratospheric lines and, saving the best to the last solo voice, Russell Braun’s Troïl is a model of style and elegance. “ (Opera Now, February 2014)

“The baritone Russell Braun sang Troïl with vocal warmth, nuanced phrasing and an air of mystery.” (New York Times review of the live performance at Versailles, May 28, 2013)

Now available on Naïve Records, this release brings together for the first time Wagner’s Der fliegende Holländer and Pierre Louis Dietsch’s Le Vaisseau fantôme ou Le Maudit des mers. Les Musiciens du Louvre Grenoble and the Eesti Filharmoonia Kammerkoor are conducted by Marc Minkowski.

 
Britten's War Requiem with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra

"I was completely wrecked after this performance of extraordinary acuity, meticulous pacing, tremendous balancing, and stunning understanding from everybody involved of what everybody else was doing. It was a complete entity, and gave this listener one of the greatest musical experiences of his life. I wept openly throughout the exchanges of our soldiers for the night, tenor Jeffrey Francis and baritone Russell Braun, which were sung as one and completely broke me up." (Glasgow Herald, 18 November 2013)

"Russell Braun was also a deeply sympathetic presence, especially moving in After the blast of lightning. " (Seen and Heard, 16 November 2013)

"The male duo - lyrical tenor Jeffrey Francis and soft-grained baritone Russel Braun [sic] - drew poignant humanity from Owen's poetry." (The Scotsman, 16 November 2013)

 

Vaughn Williams' A Sea Symphony with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra

"…baritone Russell Braun [was] impressive, singing with unfailing sensitivity to the meaning of the words." (ArtsNash, 26 October 2013)

 

Britten's War Requiem at the City of London Festival

"It was the first time I've heard the Canadian baritone Russell Braun, and it's clear what all the fuss is about. His voice caresses and stirs, and he searched out the nuances Britten loads into the Owen poems with exceptional insight. Like Spence, he got to the heart of the music and poetry with an unforgettable mix of unmannered ease and profound modesty. Braun just got better and better, from the hushed distraction of 'Bugles sang' to the bleak power of 'Be slowly lifted up' (with Edward Gardner engineering a superbly crafted return to the 'Dies irae'). As for 'Strange Meeting' - well, Britten gave both parts vocal and dramatic opportunities, which these two great singers realised with a singular, masterly intelligence." (Classical Source, 25 June 2013)

"The admirable German-born baritone Russell Braun… was equally intense in Be Slowly Lifted Up. Braun and Spence caressed the senseless pity of it all, lullabied to endless sleep by the In Paradisum of the chorus and boys' choir. No wonder there was total silence at the end. Tears were never far away." (Observer, 30 June 2013)

"Russell Braun's rich, velvety baritone was an inspired choice: his "Be slowly lifted up" was forcefully dark, yet he revealed a greater intensity in the pared-back "Strange Meeting", in which he, the German soldier, sings to Spence, the British Tommy, "I am the enemy you killed, my friend". The decidedly more peaceful duet "Let us sleep now"/In paradisum was sung by Spence and Braun with sincere feeling, their imitative lines reflecting Britten's stance that no side was better than another in this bloody war. The contemplative "Conclusion" was achingly beautifully sung and performed. At its end, Gardner showed that even the audience had fallen under his spell as the entire building fell into complete silence until he, after what felt like a minute, lowered his hands. It was a stirring concert, and one in which this enormously complex work seemed to be understood by all the performers alike." (Bachtrack, 1 July 2013) "Russell Braun brought quiet solidity to the baritone part." (Financial Times, 26 June 2013)


Russell wins the 2013 Dora Mavor Award for Outstanding Performance (Male) for his portayal of Conte di Luna in Il Trovatore, presented by the Canadian Opera Company
 
Recital with violinist James Ehnes and pianist Carolyn Maule at Koerner Hall in Toronto for the Women's Musical Club

"A dramatic, tortured performer, sensitive and heroic by turns…Braun plumbed all the emotion in [Estacio's cycle] quite dramatic, almost operatic love songs, to texts by playwright John Murrell, Sondheimesque in places, providing a wonderful canvas for Braun's emotional range. A version of that same range was present in Braun and Maule's reading of Beethoven's An die Ferne Geliebte, perhaps the first-ever linked set of songs, in which Braun displayed both the beauty of his voice and the subtlety of his interpretive skills. [In songs Shropshire songs] he focused in very deliberately on the bittersweet quality of these tales of love won, and lost; youth betrayed; ideals dissipated. His command of tone, dynamics and sound was impeccable throughout. …James Ehnes and Russell Braun left us in little doubt on Thursday afternoon about the source of their fame. They are both musicians of the first rank." (Globe and Mail, 3 May 2013)

"What we witnessed was the work of two greats. Braun came bearing humanity and warmth - starting with his lovely burnished baritone and embroidered by his tremendous ability to wring maximum expression and an overriding sense of genuineness out of everything he sang. Braun's rendition of the six songs in Beethoven's An die ferne Geliebte (To a Distant Beloved) cycle was impeccable, as were his selections of different settings of poetry by A.E. Housman - some sung with violin, some with piano…this was one of the great recitals of the season." (Musical Toronto, 2 May 2013)

 

Home for the Holidays! Handel's Messiah with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra!

"The icing on this year's delicious Messiah cake is the soloists. Tenor Michael Schade and baritone Russell Braun, longtime operatic buddies who now spend much of their time abroad, are reunited on the Roy Thomson Hall stage to great effect. Both men brought deep, operatic emotion to their solo arias." (Toronto Star, 18 December 2012)

 

Russell Braun and Carolyn Maule stun capacity Kennedy Center audience with Winterreise

"At the conclusion of Schubert’s well-known song cycle “Winterreise” (Winter Journey), Canadian baritone Russell Braun and piano accompanist, wife Carolyn Maule, for a moment stunned their audience into total silence, delaying applause. The answer is in Schubert’s uncanny genius in transforming the kinetic imagery of Lisel Mueller’s rather mediocre poem into transcendent music. Braun and Maule further intensified Schubert’s introspective settings into a statement of operatic magnitude.

Braun’s array of dynamic shadings matched the many kinetic implications in the poem. Braun often adjusted vocal timbres and tempos dramatically from word to word. All the feelings were further expanded by the singer’s gestures ranging from small introspective movements to arms outstretched and head lowered in desperation. That is, Braun actually became the forlorn wanderer in a drama needing no sets or props." (Washington Post, 8 November 2012)

Read the full review on the Washington Post website
 
Resounding praise for Russell Braun’s first Verdi role!


Russell Braun as Conte di Luna and Elena Manistina as Azucena
Photo: Michael Cooper

As Conte di Luna in the Canadian Opera Company’s production of Il Trovatore

“Russell Braun, one of this nation’s operatic treasures. As the egomaniacal Conte di Luna, he once again displays the sophistication of approach and subtlety of execution that make such a great artist. I’ve seen far too many productions of this opera where the Count’s performance degenerates into what Shakespeare would call “sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Not so with Braun. He offers us a man whose passions are almost as chilly as his intellect. And, of course, the polished luster of his baritone is always worth savouring, especially in an aria such as “Il balen del suo sorriso,” which was breathtaking in its carefully muted power.” (Toronto Star, 1 October 2012)

“although it’s impossible with a cast of this calibre to single out a favourite, Canadian Russell Braun’s Conte di Luna was a bit of perfection. Braun not only sang his part with an effortless stream of perfectly modulated sound, he worked hard to try and turn di Luna from something of a cardboard character into a real personality whose obsessional motivations, of both love and revenge, had meaning. …You may have seen this opera before. And you may see it again. But you probably won’t ever see it performed as well.” (Globe and Mail, 1 October 2012)

"Russell Braun’s di Luna is well defined from the moment he steps onstage. The man is obsessive, jealous, unable to concede defeat; at one point, planning to kidnap Leonora as she’s about to become a nun, di Luna challenges God as his rival. Capturing the character’s driven, uncompromising nature, Braun offers the opera’s one consistent performance. Di Luna marks Braun’s debut in a Verdi opera, and though his voice may occasionally be small when set against a large orchestra and chorus, he captures di Luna’s driven, uncompromising nature. Even di Luna’s one tender aria as he thinks about Leonora has a fixated quality." (NOW Magazine, 1 October 2012)

"The other piece of big news was Canadian baritone Russell Braun in his first ever Verdi role, as Conte di Luna. Braun sang with his trademark mellifluous tone and musicality, and he acted the villain with conviction." (La Scena Musicale, 1 October 2012)

"Canadian baritone Russell Braun cuts a dashing figure as the Comte di Luna, the "bad guy" of the opera. In a military uniform with an elegant cape, he looks every inch an officer and a nobleman. His commanding presence and assured movements are aided and abetted by his vocal prowess. He sings with resonance and displays complete control of the role." (Bachtrack, 7 October 2012)

 
Nixon in China Now Available on DVD and Blu-Ray!

You will be able to bring Russell's acclaimed performance as Chou En-Lai from the Metropolitan Opera's production of Nixon in China home with you when it is released on DVD and Blu-ray later this year. Look for it on Nonesuch in mid-October.

"...This final scene had some truly lovely singing by baritone Russell Braun as Chou En-lai - consistently the evening's most pleasurable vocalist." (Opera Canada, Fall 2011)

"The most outstanding performance was that of Russell Braun's Chou En-lai, his luminous baritone inflecting the figure of the Chinese premier with humanity and flashes of moral self-awareness. Braun has a way of digging for the emotional core of every phrase he sings, as well as the flexibility to move fluidly between different expressive registers." (Classical Review, 4 February 2011)

"Russell Braun as Chou turned in the best vocal performance of the evening. He sang with a rich, resonant baritone, beautiful phrasing and exemplary diction.... Just after (his) brilliant and poignant soliloquy... the audience broke into prolonged and enthusiastic applause." (ConcertoNet, 2 February 2011)

The Met production stars baritone James Maddalena, who originated the role in 1987, soprano Janis Kelly as Pat Nixon and Russell Braun as Chou En-Lai. Other performers include Kathleen Kim as Chian Ch'ing, Robert Brubaker as Mao Tse-tung and Richard Paul Fink as Henry Kissinger.

 

Manon by Massenet at La Scala July 2012
Photo by Marco Brescia & Rudy Amisano

Manon at La Scala

Russell Braun a "compelling" (teatro.org) Lescault in La Scala's production of Manon.

 
 
 
 
A "standout" in Mendelssohn's 'Elijah' with the National Symphony Orchestra

"[The soloists] combined with Russell Braun's crisp and authoritative baritone to carry, quite masterfully, the variety of characters and parts that Mendelssohn meticulously wove into his score. Mr. Braun, in particular, fielding the substantial role of Elijah, proved a standout during the performance." (Washington Times, 11 April 2012)

"Elijah" is the baritone's show, though, and special honors go to Russell Braun, in the title role, who worked hard all night. ...[H]e had all the notes, never barked and drew out each emotion with taste and skill. "Es ist genug!," with Braun duetting with principal cellist David Hardy, was wonderfully anguished. (Washington Post, 6 April 2012)

First reviews are in of Russell's debut as Jaufra in the Canadian Opera Company's Love From Afar

"Come to have your eyes dazzled; stay to have your heart moved. Russell Braun is the lovelorn troubadour and no one, truly, can capture the essence of manly pain as well as he does. Add to this the burnished redwood of his voice, capable of the most powerful explosions as well as the gentlest covered notes and you have a work of art." (Toronto Star, 3 February 2012)

 
Valentin in the Met's new production of Faust

"The most fully formed performance came from veteran baritone Russell Braun as Valentin, Marguerite's brother. His big number in Act 2 - Avant de quitter ces lieux - made a good impression. Upon his return from the war in Act 4 he threw himself into the fatal duel with Faust (realistically staged), and cursed his sister with relish for her out-of-wedlock pregnancy." (CNYCafeMomus.com)

"Russell Braun's distinctive baritone makes the curse of Valentine's death one of the most impressive moments of the entire performance." (Opernmetz)

"Baritone Russell Braun as Marguerite's brother, Valentin, also was excellent. His voice has a rich, strong, focused tone, which he used to great effect, particularly the scene in which he is killed by Faust." (Broom Arts Mirror, 13 December 2011)

"René-Papé, the phenomenal Méphistopheles, superb both vocally and on stage, and Russell Braun, a very appealing Valentin, completes this dream vocal quartet." (Altamusica.com)

 
Russell teams up with Susan Graham in the COC's "unforgettable production" of Iphigenia in Tauris

"As Orestes, Canadian Russell Braun sang with extraordinary dramatic intensity and vocal abandon, his warm and expressive baritone conveying touching pathos. I have seen Braun plenty of times on stage, both in opera and in recitals. To be sure, his performance here reaffirms him as one of the very best singing actors in front of the public today." (La Scena Musicale, 23 September 2011)

"Russell Braun brings all the driven passion of Orestes to life, while providing the burnished tones the role calls for." (Toronto Star, 23 September 2011)

"As the impassioned Orestes, Russell Braun throws himself emotionally and physically into the role, while Joseph Kaiser's Pylades is equally strong. Their sequential arias in the first half - Orestes explosive, Pylades calming - are beautifully linked; the two characters end up back to back, two halves of a whole. " (NOW Magazine, 23 September 2011)

"Russell Braun injects maximum passion into his voice but never loses steadiness or the vocal line." (ConcertoNet, 25 September 2011)

"...baritone Russell Braun in magnificent voice." (23 September 2011)


Russell Braun as Orestes and Joseph Kaiser as Pylades in the Canadian Opera Company's production of Iphigenia in Tauris, September 2011. Photo: Michael Cooper


Russell Braun reprises his winning Mercutio at Milan's famed La Scala

"The best of them was Russell Braun, vocally and dramatically, an excellent Mercutio." (Der Neue Merker, June 2011)

"Also excellent, Russell Braun's Mercutio." (Corriere della Sera, June 2011)


Catch Russell's "stand-out" performance of Chou En-lai in Nixon in China Wednesday, June 1 at 9:00 p.m. ET on PBS
(check local listings)

Watch the full episode. See more Great Performances.

Russell on CBC's Wachtel On The Arts

Russell spoke with Eleanor Wachtel about his role debut as Olivier in Capriccio at the Met. The production also stars Renee Fleming with whom Eleanor also speaks.
Click here for the interview


Back at the Met, Russell made his role debut as Olivier in Strauss's Capriccio

"The baritone Russell Braun was appealing as Olivier, the poet who is outraged when, in a rush of inspiration, Flamand sets Olivier's sonnet to music and sings it for the Countess at the harpsichord." (New York Times, 29 March 2011)

"...baritone Russell Braun sings handsomely as Flamand's more urbane rival Olivier." (Classical Review, 29 March 2011)

 

Don't miss Russell's acclaimed performance of Chou En-lai Live in HD from the Met when John Adams’s Nixon in China is broadcast in movie theatres across the globe this Saturday, February 12, 2011 at 1:00 pm ET


A triumphant debut as Chou En-lai in the Met's Nixon in China

"...This final scene had some truly lovely singing by baritone Russell Braun as Chou En-lai - consistently the evening's most pleasurable vocalist." (Opera Canada, Fall 2011)

"The most outstanding performance was that of Russell Braun's Chou En-lai, his luminous baritone inflecting the figure of the Chinese premier with humanity and flashes of moral self-awareness. Braun has a way of digging for the emotional core of every phrase he sings, as well as the flexibility to move fluidly between different expressive registers." (Classical Review, 4 February 2011)

"Russell Braun as Chou turned in the best vocal performance of the evening. He sang with a rich, resonant baritone, beautiful phrasing and exemplary diction.... Just after (his) brilliant and poignant soliloquy... the audience broke into prolonged and enthusiastic applause." (ConcertoNet, 2 February 2011)

"Russell Braun's Chou En-lai was a tortured, pensive man, dying of pancreatic cancer yet honored to be a part of such a historical moment; Braun's is a deliciously rich and burnished baritone that I'd love to hear much more of." (Kansas City Independent, 14 February 2011)

"Another stand-out was Russell Braun's performance as Chou En Lai, to which he brought nuanced and expressive singing....his final rumination ("How much of what we did was good?) was extremely effective and the capacity Met audience held its breath momentarily before delivering a thundering ovation." (GBOpera, 10 February 2011)

"Russell Braun exuded mysterious dignity as Chou En-lai." (Financial Times, 4 February 2011)

"Russell Braun showed a deepening, firm sound as Chou En-Lai." (Washington Post, 4 February 2011)

"When [Adams] gives us lyrical flights, he does it beautifully, as in pensive thoughts of Chou En-lai - here the fine, sonorous, dignified baritone Russell Braun - during the opera's deeply affecting final moments." (New York Times, 3 February 2011)

Full Review "Best of all the men was baritone Russell Braun as a soulful Premier Chou En-lai. He gets the opera's final words in a solo that asks, "How much of what we did was good?" (Associated Press, 3 February 2011)

"As Chou En-lai, who sings the final line about where in the balance their decisions will hang, among other cool-headed proclamations, Russell Braun was a strong grounding presence with a smooth baritone." (New Jersey Star-Ledger, 6 February 2011)

"Of equal stature was Russell Braun, his baritone revealing warmth in the reserved Chou En-lai." (New York Post, 4 February 2011)

"Russell Braun fully conveys the dark secrets and unspoken yearnings of the grave Chou." (Backstage, 4 February 2011)

"Braun's ailing Chou En-lai is especially stentorian and sweet by turns." (Theater Mania, 5 February 2011)

"Russell Braun also did nicely (despite having his arm in a sling), giving a plaintive tone to the gentle finale "I Am Old And Cannot Sleep." (Huffington Post, 3 February 2011)

 

Russell returns to the COC in two extraordinary roles.

He opens the 2011-2012 season as Oreste in Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride. Russell first performed this role, also with Susan Graham in the title role, at the Paris Opera in June 2006. Critics acclaimed him as 'profound and spectacular' (Libération), with the 'courage and vocal assurance of an Oreste' (Les Echoes). Performance September 22 to October 15. Later in the season Russell returns to the COC in his debut role as Jaufré Rudel in Saariaho's L'amour de loin. Performances run from February 2 - 22, 2012. For more information: www.coc.ca.

Catch a Sneak-Peak into Russell's Upcoming Role Debut as the Chinese premier Chou En-lai in the Metropolitan Opera's Nixon in China

On January 19 at 7pm, Classical 105.9 WQXR will host a special preview of the Met’s Nixon in China, live from The Jerome L. Greene Performance Space. In addition to a discussion with with John Adams and director Peter Sellars about the iconic opera, Russell will be joined by James Maddalena (Nixon) and Kathleen Kim (Madame Mao) for performances of some of their key arias.

Those not in NY can listen live on the WQXR website!


Russell takes the Big Apple by Storm!

The first few months of 2011 see Russell make two major role debuts at the Metropolitan Opera! On February 2nd, 2011, Russell makes his role debut as Chou En-lai in John Adams's Nixon in China and on March 28th, Russell opens as Olivier in Strauss's Capriccio, the April 23rd performance of which will be broadcast internationally as part of the Met's Live on HD series.


BBC radio 3 will be broadcasting Manon on Saturday July 10th

Catch the final preformance of Russell's role debut as Lescaut in Massenet's Manon when it will be braodcast live from The Royal Opera House Covent Garden by BBC Radio 3.

"Alone of the principals, Russell Braun (Lescaut) has Massenet's idiom at his fingertips in a very likeable performance" (Opera, August 2010)

"As Lescaut, Russell Braun (son of the great baritone, Victor Braun) made a realistic figure out of Manon's spineless cousin and was heart breaking in the final scene." (ConcertoNet, 25 June 2010)

"Russell Braun made his mark as Lescaut." (Financial Times, 24 June 2010)

"Russell Braun is superb as a creepily attractive Lescaut..." (The Guardian, 23 June 2010)

"All the smaller parts are finely sketched in, especially Russell Braun as Manon's venal cousin Lescaut..." (The Stage, 23 June 2010)

"Russell Braun is sympathetic to Lescaut's character, capturing well his military bearing but also his caring-for-Manon side." (Opera Critic, 22 June 2010)

"Russell Braun was a suave-voiced Lescaut, subtly depicting the weakness of the character and his self-centred ambivalence to the plight of his cousin." (Classical Source, 22 June 2010)

"…the wonderful Lescaut of Canadian baritone Russell Braun." (Opera Britannia, 22 June 2010)

 

Read Russell's interview with ClassicalSource.com about the role.


CBC Radio 2's 'In Concert' rebroadcasts Bouchard: Songs of an Acrobat on Sunday June 27

Listen to CBC Radio 2's In Concert on Sunday, June 27 (11:00am - 3:00pm) for a repeat broadcast of Russell's performance of Bouchard: Songs of an Acrobat for the National Arts Centre Orchestra's 40th Anniversary celebration. Listen here


Calling all London Fans!

On June 24th Russell and Carolyn Maule will give a recital featuring Schumann's Dichterliebe, songs by Mendelssohn, and Fauré. A fundraiser for the Rudi Martinus Van Dijk Foundation, the proceeds from the recitals will go towards the creation of a scholarship fund for musically gifted students from developing countries.

Details:
7:30 pm
22 Mansfield Street, London
Drinks following!


Russell's 2010-2011 season calendar is now up!

Highlights include a tour of Japan with the Royal Opera House and two major role debuts at the Met: as Chou En-lai in John Adams's Nixon in China and Olivier in Strauss's Capriccio. For those not able to make it to New York, you catch catch Russell Live on HD on April 23rd as his Capriccio will be broadcast to theatres around the world!


Highlights from Russell's west coast tour:

A post-concert photo of Russell and Carolyn with the on-stage assemblage designed to set the mood for Die Winterreise in Burns Lake.

2010.01.26

"We wanted to take a minute out of a busy day and busy week to let you know about Russell Braun's performance of Die Winterreise in Burns Lake, BC on Sunday afternoon, January 24th, 2010. In a word, 'Magnificent!'. We expected, of course, a performance of world-class calibre. We say 'of course', because we know of Mr. Braun's artistry by reputation, from CD's, and from CBC Radio Two. What these sources could not really have prepared us for was the power and the magic of Russell's live performance, and the wonderfully moving and sensitive piano accompaniment of Carolyn Maule. Russell promised, in his brief introduction to the recital, that the 80 minutes of the Schubert song cycle would pass surprisingly quickly. Most audience members seemed to agree. After a brief silence at the conclusion of the recital the audience was on its feet applauding, and cries of 'Bravo' were heard in the church. One of our audience members told us today that Russell's is "the greatest voice I have ever heard". A senior member of the audience, who has played piano for over 70 years, described Carolyn's playing as "exquisite". For many in Burns Lake the afternoon was a highlight not just of this season, but of our concert-going lives. Many audience members thanked the Arts Council for bringing artists of Russell and Carolyn's calibre to our small community. Which brings us to the second point. We are touched by and grateful for the considerable efforts both Russell and Carolyn made to come to this small, isolated, rural BC community. We know in a general way of the sacrifices all artists must make to pursue their craft. Spending 36 hours with these warm and generous people reminded us again of the commitment of touring artists. Making the time to come to our town, taking time from other professional and family commitments, spending long hours on crowded airplanes and in cramped cars, braving a flawed and daunting airline baggage system, winter roads, recalcitrant hotel heating systems, very late nights and early mornings, roadside cafes, -20 degree temperatures and an overly-bright piano with a sticky E-flat key, and still being able to present a recital of such a very high standard with grace and good humour - we can only say, with our audience: "Bravo".

Thank you all for the parts you played to make this event happen. We and our Arts Council and our audience are very grateful that you all helped provide us with this memorable event and once-in-a-lifetime experience. We are especially appreciative of the support of MusicFest Vancouver and of Windsor Plywood's Spectacular Music BC program. A concert like this one, in a town like ours, is what Spectacular Music BC is all about. "

- John and Sandra Barth for the Lakes District Arts Council, Burns Lake, BC

-----

"Among the highlights was an aria from the opera Faust, in which the singer's voice projected gloriously into the dull acoustics of Shorncliffe's main hall." (Coast Reporter, 27 November 2009)

Russell Braun gives a "heart-felt delivery that will be etched in memory" for the Canadian Opera Company's Diamond Anniversay Gala

COC Diamond Anniversary Gala Concert
(l. to r.) Tenor Ramon Vargas, baritone Russell Braun, tenor John Treleaven, conductor Johannes Debus

"Baritone Russell Braun had the best innings of all, in a first-class performance of O du mein holder Abendstern, from Tannhauser. His feeling for the dramatic moment, and his variety of tone and phrasing, made for the most thorough acting job anyone could do while standing stock-still." (Globe and Mail, 9 November 2009)

"In a vivid testament to the quality of singers this country is producing, the finest of the trio was GTA-based Russell Braun. Braun is at the peak of his art, mixing a rich, flexible and powerful baritone with keen dramatic instincts. He was galvanizing in an aria from Gounod's Roméo et Juliette and brought a powerful intensity to his Ode to the Evening Star from Wagner's Tannhaüser. Braun was sincere in one of the evening's three encores, when he and Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas blew the full house off its posteriors in the famous duet by Georges Bizet, "Au fond du temple saint," from The Pearl Fishers." (Toronto Star, 9 November 2009)

"Russell Braun is of course a COC favourite. He sang Mercutio's aria with brio and elan. His warm and mellifluous baritone blended beautifully with Vargas' in the Bizet. Braun reserved his best for Wolfram's Ode to the Evening Star. Taken at a very slow tempo, his was a most poetic and heart-felt delivery that will be etched in memory." (La Scena Musicale, 8 November, 2009)

Russell Braun embodies the many guises of The Traveller in Death in Venice at the Theater an der Wien

"As the Traveller, Russell Braun, his curly dark locks tipped in devilish red, stole every scene in which he appeared, filling the house with his lustrous voice and over-the-top characterizations, which ranged from a ghastly over-rouged elderly fop to an ingratiating chatterbox barber." (Musical America, 15 October 2009)

"Russell Braun flowed as the perfidious death messenger between the most diverse roles, devious and provoking as a traveler, gondolier, hotel manager and so on. With his versatile baritone he acts as fate messenger for Aschenbach, luring and humiliating the writer, who finally succumbs to Cholera." (Oper in Wien, 19 September 2009)

"Superlative singing from Russell Braun in the six roles (from travelers to the God Dionysos)." (Kronen Zeitung, 19 September 2009)

"Russell Braun supplies concise character studies in the small roles of the hotel director, bartender, road musician and gondolier and sings these precisely articulated with his colorful baritone." (Klassik, 19 September 2009)

"Also excellent is Russell Braun as Aschenbach's Dionysian-diabolical travel companion." (Salzburger Nachrichten, 19 September 2009)

"Russell Braun...proves a great capacity to transform among the baritone episode rolls." (Die Presse, 18 September 2009)

"Russell Braun is convincing in the work's many small roles." (Financial Times, 28 September 2009)


World premiere of Peter Lieberson's "The World in Flower" with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert

"Braun sang with a flexible, ruddy-colored baritone and showed a natural affinity for Lieberson's shapely melodic settings. His clarity went a long way toward making sense out of some of the denser texts." (Opera News, August 2009)

"Ms. DiDonato's luminous singing and Mr. Braun's earthy authority made them effective...excellent...soloists." (New York Times, 8 May 2009)

"Braun was at his best in the penultimate song, an excerpt from "Leaves of Grass", where he conveyed the profound sensuality of Whitman's lines with warmth and authority." (Classical Source, 9 May 2009)


A human Elijah with the Calgary Philharmonic

"In the central role of Elijah, Russell Braun vocally fit the composer's own conception of a holy man who was "strong, zealous and, yes, even bad-tempered, angry and brooding . . . yet borne aloft as if on angels' wings"--and did so with consummate ease, imbuing the part with warmth and humanity." (Calgary Herald, 18 April 2009)


Russell Braun "beyond wonderful" as Eugene Onegin with Opera Lyra Ottawa

"Baritone Russell Braun sang the role of the ne'er-do-well Onegin...he was convincing and effective and his singing was beyond wonderful. He used every part of his vocal range without any audible difficulty and this enabled him to convey effectively the character's several states of mind (all of them grim)." (Ottawa Citizen, 5 April 2009)


Russell Braun "Superb" "Golden" in his role debut in the Canadian Opera Company's production of War and Peace

"Baritone Russell Braun's Prince Andrei Bolkonsky is golden when he forgives his faithless fiancée Natasha. His singing has an exquisite dramatic soulfulness, even amid the ongoing destruction wreaked by Napoleon's armies." (National Post, 14 October 2008)

"...a breathtaking performance that is at once mighty and touchingly human. He is one of the few opera stars who can act as well as he sings." (Toronto Star, 13 October 2008)

"Braun, his voice conveying both strength and vulnerability, is an ideal Andrei, drawing us into his character's gradual love for Natasha and his resignation at losing her." (Eye Weekly, 13 October 2008)

"The role of Prince Andrei seems tailor-made for Russell Braun." (ConcertNet, 10 October 2008)

"Baritone Russell Braun, in his role debut, was an ideal Andrei. Braun's sensitive voice conveyed both strength and vulnerability from Andrei's first glimmerings of love to his heartbreaking death scene." (Opera News, 10 October 2008)


"Braun's rakish, quicksilver Mercutio" stands out in the Salzburg Festival's production of Romeo et Juliette

"..an arresting and nimble voiced Mercutio." (Musical America, 22 August 2008)

"Dramatically, Braun took a supporting character with little depth, and brought out a multi-sided person--jovial, then hot-headed." (Jamilton, 2 August 2008)

"The raucous, swashbuckling fight scene staged by B.H. Barry offers edge-of-the-seat excitement and spills into the audience. Mercutio (Russell Braun), costumed as a refugee from "Pirates of the Caribbean," is an expert swordsman but falls to Tybalt (Juan Francisco Gatell) after being distracted when a huge white canopy is cut down." (Variety, August 2008)

Watch Russell perform "Mab, la reine des mensonges" on Youtube

 

 

Last Updated: June 6, 2014

© 2000 Moira Johnson Consulting, All Rights Reserved

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