.
Moira Johnson Consulting
.
.
Russell Braun

 

What the critics say...

 

 

2011-2012 Season

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)

2010-2011 Season

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)

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)

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)

"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)

2009-2010 Season

Russell Braun a "...wonderful Lescaut" in his role debut in Massenet's Manon at The Royal Opera House Covent Garden

"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)

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

"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)


2008-2009 Season

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)


2007-2008 Season

"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)

"A stunning performance by Canadian baritone Russell Braun in the role of Pelléas."

"Canadian baritone Russell Braun was the ideal Pelléas, utterly believable as the younger brother of Golaud, the conflicted prince of the strange and famished kingdom of Allemonde. Braun is lithe and modest and ingenuously exuberant in his physical assumption of the role and, astonishingly, able to manage the high, almost tenor-like tessitura of Pelléas's music with a passionate elegance and finesse quite unforgettable. This, one felt, was a Pelléas much as Debussy imagined him." (Globe and Mail, 8 May 2008)

"Only Braun filled his character (who falls in love with the mysterious princess Mélisande who his brother found in the woods) with real flesh and blood - all the while giving us a series of unblemished French musical arcs." (Toronto Star, 7 May 2008)

Carrying On a Family Tradition: Russell Braun makes a superb debut as Wolfram in San Diego Opera's Tannhäuser

"Baritone Russell Braun was a fantastic head-turner in his role debut as Wolfram von Eschenbach. Portraying both friend to Tannhäuser and ardent yet unrequited lover of Elisabeth, Braun conveyed understated sensitivity while maintaining robust singing. Eschenbach never outright sings that he loves Elisabeth but it was obvious with Braun's emotive singing, demeanor and the accompaniment of the music." (Voice of San Diego, 1 February 2008)

"Russell Braun returned to San Diego to sing Wolfram for the very first time, of particular interest, as his father Victor Braun is well known as Wolfram on the famous recording conducted by Sir George Solti. He did the role and his father justice, singing well and giving Wolfram a distinctive, dramatic edge." (Classical Voice, 30 January 2008)

"Canadian baritone Russell Braun does not disappoint. Braun's famous German father, Victor, was a great Wolfram, and Braun makes his debut in the role in San Diego. His tone is warm and his vocal control is superb, particularly in the meltingly beautiful "O du mein holder Abendsterm" ("Song of the Evening Star")." (North County Times, 31 January 2008)

"Baritone Russell Braun was appealingly refined in his role debut as the good-hearted Wolfram." (San Diego Union-Tribune, 28 January 2008)

As the philandering Count in the COC's Le Nozze di Fiagro

"Braun, the stage veteran of this cast, offered up a fine voice and an assured dramatic air as the philandering Count." (Toronto Star, 3 October 2007)

"Baritone Russell Braun (Count Almaviva) was almost the only one to find a sustained character arc, culminating in an Act 3 soliloquy in which the outwardly self-assured aristocrat revealed the lonely little man hiding inside." (Globe and Mail, 4 October 2007)

"This is a production that...affords Toronto audiences a night with an established national treasure such as baritone Russell Braun... Braun, for his part, has all the makings of a wonderful Count Almaviva, the amoral villain of the piece, save for the fact that he simply can't disguise the fact he's a whole lot smarter than the conceited popinjay he's forced to play." (Toronto Sun, 4 October 2007)

"Braun tends to dominate the action not just because of his strong baritone but because his Count is more than a simple tyrant or buffoon. He shows us a man who learns through experience that the world no longer runs the way he thinks it does." (Eye Weekly, 3 October 2007)

 

2006-2007 Season

Humorous and witty at the Elora Festival

"Braun then returned for seven short songs. His humorous and witty performance of Benjamin Britten's The Foggy, Foggy Dew proved to be the crowd favourite of the night, invoking delightful laughter with his well-timed execution of the line 'foggy, foggy dew.' When Braun performs, he puts full effort into every note and phrase. As a result, his music is incredibly expressive and there was never a dull moment in his engaging performance." (The Record, 7 August, 2007)

Il barbiere di Siviglia

"Russell Braun swaggered with robust savoir-faire, vocal as well as dramatic" (Opera, July 2007)

"For seven years, Russell Braun has been a frequent Figaro here, but in this latest foray he offered something more - the manner more commanding, the handsome, burry voice more fully rounded, the handsome face and figure more pliantly expressive. Vocally and artistically, he seems to have reached an enviable point of equilibrium. Sexy and smart and fully his colleagues' peer in either high notes or low comedy, this Figaro let no one forget which role gives Rossini's opera its title; and when he stepped onto the passerelle for his curtain call, the audience's ovation loudly proclaimed him a barbier di qualità" (Opera Canada, Summer 2007)

'Commanding title role' in Elijah

"Baritone Russell Braun was unflappable in the din, and the cellos accompanied his supplications sweetly." (Chicago Tribune, 18 June 2007)

"His all Canadian-connected soloists were led by baritone Russell Braun's embodiment of the prophet, at once virile and heart-rending, no more so than in the air "Lord God of Abraham." (Chicago Sun-Times, 18 June 2007)

Russell appears for the first time at the new Four Season Performing Arts Centre in Toronto - as Guglielmo in the COC's Cosi fan tutte

"Russell Braun (Guglielmo) sang with a fine sense of style and balance all evening." (Globe and Mail, 19 October 2006)

"Baritone Russell Braun's dramatic skills shone nicely." (Toronto Star, 18 October 2006)

"There was a particularly strong on-stage chemistry between the Guglielmo (Russell Braun) and the Dorabella (Krisztina Szabo). Braun's baritone is robust and steady, and in his performances, there is always a probity that is attractive. Szabo sang Dorabella with finesse and subtlety." (National Post, 19 October 2006)

"Guglielmo was Russell Braun's second major role with the COC back in 1992; he made a wonderful impression then and remains ideal in the part today." (ConcertoNet, 2 November 2006)


Russell Braun Makes a "Sterling" Covent Garden Debut

"A tremendous debut from Canadian baritone Russell Braun as Valentin - a glorious performance in terms of vocal beauty and expressive intensity." (Guardian, 19 September 2006)

"Russell Braun won special cheers for his poetic Valentin." (Evening Standard, 18 September 2006)

"Russell Braun, making an overdue Covent Garden debut, is a sterling Valentin." (Daily Telegraph, 18 September 2006)

"Russell Braun's debut as Valentin was impressively lyrical." (Music OMH, 18 September 2006)


2005-2006 Season

Russell Braun makes his debut in Gluck's Iphingénie en Tauride at L'opera de Paris

"Russell Braun portrays an Oreste of great distinction." (Le Monde, 11 June 2006)

"Russell Braun, who portrayed Oreste...was also remarkable." (Le Figaro, 12 June 2006)

"Russell Braun has the courage and vocal assurance of an Oreste." (Les Echos, 12 June 2006)


A "commanding" Count Almaviva in Manitoba Opera's Nozze di Figaro

"Braun played the philandering if somewhat deluded count to the hilt, suitably haughty while revealing some human weakness. Wearing a fabulously opulent dressing gown, he gave an emotional delivery of Vedro mentr'io sospiro. His commanding stage presence, lush tone and precise diction show why he is in great demand." (Winnipeg Free Press, 17 April 2006)


Russell Braun and Isabel Bayrakdarian Bring the House Down in Duo Recital

"The performance was an unalloyed treat. Braun, who is enjoying a flourishing international career, is an opera natural. His rich, flexible baritone voice and natural stage presence were at their best in Kitchener, especially in a selection of Mozart and Rossini arias and duets." (Toronto Star, 17 January 2006)

"It was quickly evident that the voices matched perfectly. In Er und Sie, Braun's remarkable range and superbly covered tones - no matter how high - blended marvellously with Bayrakdarian's soaring soprano and superb shading, setting the stage for a performance that was filled with such power, subtlety and humour that the audience was mesmerized from beginning to end. Braun slips easily into a bel canto in his upper register that is as smooth as velvet, yet he has rich, full-voiced low tones which escape many lyric baritones. Mondnacht was a marvellous example of both qualities." (The Record, 16 January 2006)


Russell Braun "at the height of his vocal and interpretive powers" in Winterreise in Toronto

"Music Toronto opened its fall season with a rare treat for lovers of song and singing: Franz Schubert's masterpiece Winterreise (Winter Journey), performed passionately and vividly by the Canadian baritone Russell Braun and his wife, the Canadian pianist Carolyn Maule. ...individual, strongly imagined, often moving, and unfailingly gripping. Certainly he plunged deeply into the emotional centre of each of the 24 songs, bringing it to bleak or unnerving or pathetic life. The pianissimo major-key transition in the final verse of Gute Nacht was heart-breaking. The fierce indictment of his faithless beloved in Die Wetterfahne was riveting." (Globe and Mail, 17 September 2005)

"The audience last evening was privileged to witness a performance by an artist at the height of his vocal and interpretive powers. Braun met its vocal demands with resolute beauty of tone and technical assurance. He was in excellent voice, his lyric baritone firm yet flexible, with the widest possible dynamic range at his complete disposal, encompassing the two-octave vocal writing with ease. It was a highly nuanced and heartfelt reading, without artifice. I have always found his expressive timbre to be ideally suited to lieder, but on this occasion, he communicated the pain of the protagonist better than one would think possible. Carolyn Maule offered sympathetic support at the piano, with the two of them truly performing as one. ...This performance, together with the just released CD, solidifies Russell Braun's position as an important lieder singer of our time." (La Scena Musicale, 17 September 2005)


2004-2005 Season

Russell Braun is wonderful in concert at the Ultimate Mozart Experience at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto on June 5, 2005!

"Braun sang Giovanni's part in the duet with a masterful command that allowed no escape for his prey (none of the usual smarm here), and his soft second "andiam," echoed by Zerlina, set up a flawless transition into the duet's final measures. He had bounded in at the beginning of the concert, bubbling with humorous life, to embody the merry bird-catcher in The Magic Flute. Morphing into the darker figure of Don Giovanni, Braun then sang a thrilling, manic, superbly articulated rendition of "Finch'han del vino." He filled "Non più andrai" from The Marriage of Figaro with ironic mischief and gave some broad comic touches to an aria, originally written for Così fan tutte..." (The Toronto Star, 8 June 2005)


Russell Braun excels in The Dream of Gerontius

"Braun was forceful and clear, with ripe tones and great command of sonority and incantatory line as both the priest and the Angel of The Agony at Judgment Day."(The Toronto Star, 27 April 2005)

"Tenor Michael Schade as Gerontius and baritone Russell Braun as a priest and angel continue to astonish. With each hearing, their vocal powers keep growing." (Classic 96.3 FM, 27 April 27, 2005)


Russell Braun is wonderful in Seattle!!!

"Lyric baritone Russell Braun (as Elijah) has a noble, expressive voice, easily conveying resolve, anger, compassion and resignation." (The Seattle Times, 16 April 2005)


Russell Braun and friend Michael Schade(tenor) both shine in San Diego Opera's unique Così fan Tutte

"The men, Russell Braun (Guglielmo) and Michael Schade (Ferrando) , are equally well matched. Truly superb, actually. Schade's "Un'aura amorosa" is both musically elegant and charged with emotion. Both hearty/heartless tricksters bring off their comic shtick extremely well while simultaneously managing to seem like real people." (San Diego Magazine, February 19, 2005)


Braun's "lyric voice" is wonderful in Toronto Concert with Amici Ensemble

"... the attention he paid to projecting a clear articulation of the texts and a precise weighting of vocal attack produced a kind of music-making whose subtlety wasn't even approached the following evening." (Toronto Star, 25 January 2005)


Russell Braun's "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia deemed fiery

"... baritone Russell Braun, made a hair-raising entry from the audience for "Largo al factotum" from Rossini's Il Barbiere di Siviglia and also gave us a taste of a role he's learning for San Diego Opera with Wolfram's ode to the evening from Wagner's Tanhäuser." (Opera Canada, Volume XLV, Winter 2004)

Russell Braun makes his role and San Francisco Opera debut in the title role of Eugene Onegin

"In his company debut, baritone Russell Braun was an alluring...Onegin, his singing fluid and knowing." (San Francisco Chronicle, 26 November 2004)

A Stunning Role Debut as Enrico in the Canadian Opera Company's Lucia diLammermoor

"This left Braun to give the evening's best performance, using his increasingly rich, powerful baritone to create a gripping portrait of a desperate man driven to evil deeds." (Opera News, December 2004)

"Canadian baritone Russell Braun gave us a stunning portrayal of Enrico, superbly sung and malevolently acted, using his commanding height and polished stagecraft to bring this inexcusable villain vividly to life." (Globe & Mail, 28 September, 2004)

"In voice and character portrayal, Russell Braun was superb as Enrico." (Tamara Bernstein, National Post, 28 September 2004)

"Canadian baritone Russell Braun [brought] an even finer lyric voice to the role of Enrico." (Toronto Star, 27 September 2004)

"Braun, in the evening's best performance, uses his rich, powerful baritone to create a gripping portrait of a desperate man driven to evil deeds." (Eye Weekly, 30 September 2004)


2003-2004 Season

A superb Elijah at the Oregon Bach Festival with Helmuth Rilling

"Replacing an ailing Thomas Quasthoff, German baritone Russell Braun, singing the part of Elijah, was everything the ear could desire - those who did not to buy tickets because the star they were expecting was indisposed missed hearing a performer every bit as impressive. Braun's is a bright baritone, charged with dramatic power and lyric beauty, a voice with a brilliant tenor ring and exquisite attention to nuances of the German language. His "It is enough" was delivered as stirringly as any baritone aria of Verdi - imagine a vocal tour de force like the Count di Luna's "Il balen," albeit sung against a backdrop of Judean desert, and you get the idea." (Register-Guard, 13 July 2004)

As Pelléas in Glyndebourne

"Russell Braun's Pelléas, a role that sits well in his mellifluous voice (with an excellent top)." (Independent, 26 May 2004)

"Beautifully sung by Russell Braun." (Observer, 30 May 2004)

"Russell Braun made the passive, almost infantile figure of Pelléas seem humanly believable." (Daily Telegraph, 25 May 2004)

"The German-Canadian tenor Russell Braun sings an upstanding, virile Pelléas." (Financial Times, 24 May 2004)

In duo recital with Michael Schade in San Diego

"Schade and Braun were superlative partners, blending their voices with harmonious confidence. In duets by such composers as Monteverdi, Schumann and Saint-Saëns - which were sensitively and ever so attentively accompanied by pianist Carolyn Maule, Braun's wife - the singers created a kind of synergistic artistry that was a pleasure to behold. This was male vocalism of a high order, singing that brimmed with artistry and energy. ...Schade and Braun were altogether terrific." (San Diego Union Tribune, 1 March 2004)

As Zurga in the San Diego Opera's Les Pêcheurs de perles

"Braun is one of the most gorgeous baritones I've heard in ages." (San Diego Magazine, 15 February 2004)

"And as Nadir's best friend (and romantic rival for Leila's affections) King Zurga, German-born baritone Russell Braun has a big, resonant, heroic voice that underpins the drama of the opera. In real life, Schade and Braun are best friends and regular singing partners, and their vocal blend in the opera's best-known duet, "Au fond du temple saint," is about as perfect a harmony as you'll ever hear. (North County Times, 18 February 2004)

Russell Braun's Powerful Figaro in the Met's Il Barbiere

"The evening's one consistently bright spot was the Figaro of Russell Braun, who entered as if shot from a cannon and remained a spry, winning presence throughout. Braun's elegant, soft-grained timbre and meticulous handling of verbal and musical detail were a joy to hear; he was wily but not venal in his dealings with Almaviva, impish but not lewd in his duet with Rosina, and in every way he made a classy, endearing factotum." (Opera News, January 2004)

"The title role couldn't have been more engagingly filled than it was by Braun, who has the wide-open personality to dominate the very busy production and whose sunny, lyric voice has just the right amount of heft and burr to carry commandingly." (Opera Canada, Winter 2003)

"The assets of the current cast include...Russell Braun's solid, powerful Figaro. Mr. Braun produced Rossini's detailed roulades with the right measure of showy clarity." (New York Times, October 24, 2003)

"Figaro was Russell Braun, and he owns a first-rate instrument -- vibrant and warm at the same time." (New York Sun, October 27, 2003)

Russell Braun Fabulous as Count Almaviva in Montréal

"Vocally, Russell Braun dominates the cast, embodying with panache a count who is, in turn, arrogant, tender and passionate. His magnificent baritone voice, adapts flexibly to the nuances of the role: he shows us a man overcome with passion and who quickly takes on the behaviour of a thwarted nobleman. But what tenderness when he sings the remorseful "Contessa perdonno" at the end of the opera; it becomes a thrilling, dazzling expression of love. Gifted by a fine physique, his dramatic involvement is total." (Forum Opéra, September 2003)

 

2002-2003 Season

As Pelléas in Debussy's Pelléas et Mélisande at Festival Vancouver

"The amazing Russell Braun...is the Pelléas of choice just now pretty much anywhere in the world." (Georgia Straight, August 21-28, 2003)

"Russell Braun, surely the prime Pelléas on the international circuit today, brought an ardent lyricism to a role he seems destined to inhabit for some time. He was vocally impeccable." (Opera Canada, Winter 2003)

"Baritone Russell Braun, reiterating Debussy's obsessive, erotic theme, rocked as Pelléas." (Vancouver Sun, August 18, 2003)

Russell Braun's Die Schöne Mullerin with Carolyn Maule (piano)

"I have never heard Schubert's Die schone Mullerin sung better. Russell Braun infused this piece with so much sorrow there were more than a few damp eyes in the audience, and it was hard afterwards to return to the mundane. Braun has a strong, beautifully-controlled voice in all dynamic ranges...Braun pays enormous attention to detail - each note seems chosen and polished and his diction was crystalline. Add his gift for characterization and he has presented his audience with a young miller with attitude as well as pathos." (Review Vancouver, August 13, 2003)

_____________________________________

"The recital's biggest treats were the two Canadian singers who dared to plumb these turbulent musical waters (Wolf's Italienisches Liederbuch): soprano Monica Whicher and baritone Russell Braun. They were perfectly matched in having large, flexible voices, superb vocal control and a clear sense of where to draw the line between drama and bathos." (Toronto Star, March 26, 2003)

"His was a rich-sounding Elijah, alternately passionate and tender, fierce and tormented,…at his best in the more delicate singing of Part II, during the prophet's invocation of the sleep of death." (Minnesota Star Tribune, February 7, 2003)

"Braun brought his beautiful, wide-ranging...baritone, a musicality both intuitive and trained, and a strong sense of the character portrayed. Don Giovanni's mandolin-accompanied serenade, Deh vieni alla finestra was perfection." (Globe & Mail, November 23, 2002)

"Braun's Mozart songs were exemplary in their definition and shading with each line caressed to within an inch of its life." (The Scotsman, review of duo recital with Michael Schade at the Edinburgh Festival, August 24, 2002)

"From the passionate tenderness which inspires his next conquest (Deh! vieni alla finestra - delicious!) to the terror which he faces when his end is near, the singer performed with great virtuosity" (Le Soleil, review of Don Giovanni, March 3, 2002)

"Russell Braun held the dark centre of the opera together with a fine portrait of Count Almaviva, suitably dark, treacherous, haughty, and passionate." (Globe&Mail, January 2002, review of Opera Ontario's production of Le Nozze di Figaro)

"Russell Braun nearly brought the house down with his mischievous performance of Figaro's first aria from the Barber of Seville." (Guardian, June 12, 2001, review of Richard Tucker Foundation Concert at the Royal Opera House, London)

"Russell Braun's magnificent opening night performance was the Canadian baritone's debut as Billy, but he already owns the role. His innocent goodness, youthful high spirits and kindness emanated not only from his singing but from his whole being…" (National Post, April 2001)

"Braun's warm lyrical tone creates a truth-filled, transcendent Billy" (Globe&Mail, March 2001)

"His innocent goodness, youthful high spirits and kindness emananted not only from his singing but his whole being" (National Post, March 2001)

"But the jewel of the concert came in the middle with Russell Braun's performance of Kindertotenlieder. In the midst of wit and drama, Braun's singing supplied heart. The dark lyricism he brought to these beautiful songs mourning the death of children spoke so sensitively of love and loss and yearning that one stopped admiring the music, the voice, the performance and simply became absorbed in the feeling of what was being communicated. Here, indeed, one found that a singer and a modest orchestra could be as intimate as Mahler could ever hope for". (Toronto Star, November 2000, review of Mahler concert at the Glenn Gould Studio)

"Bounding onstage to catch up with the orchestra already deep into the first page of Figaro's aria, he was the very image of Rossini's self-important, self-satisfied barber. Barely subdued by his white tie and tails, hands stuffed in pockets, he whipped through the aria with gusto...this was a Figaro as bracing as a sudden wind off the lake" (Chicago Sun-Times, September 2000)

"Canadian baritone RUSSELL BRAUN was a charmingly boyish Figaro with voice and stage smarts to spare. He inhabited the part with complee confidence and showed real comic clair in the complex Act II shaving scene" (Globe and Mail, April, 2000, review of the Metropolitan Opera production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia)

"MR. BRAUN, a Canadian baritone with a rich, flexible timbre, was a fine partner in the duets and notably more natural interpreter in his solos. These included graceful accounts of three Shakespearean settings from Finzi's Let Us Garlands Bring and beautifully weighted renderings of two Mascagni songs La tua stella and Rosa." (New York Times, April 1999)

"Braun's performance of Britten's The Highland Balou (text by Robert Burns) was spectacular. Here, along with the miracle of Braun's technical prowess was Braun's trademark expressive warmth" (The Record, Kitchener-Waterloo, May 1998)

"BRAUN'S turn came with the Fauré cycle L'horizon chimérique, beautifully breathed and shaped into that caressing French manner of dreaming obsession; the singer's command of vocal colours was haunting." (Toronto Globe & Mail, March 1997)

"RUSSELL BRAUN is a high baritone, perfect for Pelléas: his bearing was always reserved yet yearning, exactly correct, and his Act IV scene with Mélisande was portrayed admirably." (Opera News, October 1997, review of l'Opéra de Paris production of Pelléas and Mélisande)

"RUSSELL BRAUN portrays the count with proud authority, and the color of his voice makes a future orientation toward a more dramatic repertoire almost certain." (Opera International, April 1996 review of l'Opéra de Monte Carlo production of Le Nozze di Figaro)

"RUSSELL BRAUN's Aeneas achieves that rare balance, in this difficult and enigmatic role, between the intractable aura of a brave soldier and moral weakness - as Dido might have recognized it." (Gramophone Magazine, June 1996, reviewing the recording of Dido and Aeneas)

"The real star of the show was RUSSELL BRAUN, making his company debut in the title role. Here was a Barber with all the dash, verve and vivacity one associates with the role. Braun's large voice is full in all registers and dynamic levels, and his acting is as natural and commanding as it is charismatic - a man born for the stage." (Opera magazine, August 1995, review of l'Opéra de Montreal production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia)

"What remains is the revelation of the evening: the Figaro of RUSSELL BRAUN. As soon as he arrives on the stage, he possesses it, dominates it, makes it how own place which he will exploit with ease and brio, as the air of gallantry he uses in his entrance shows. What an actor and what a voice! I do not think that many baritones today can command this role as he does. The timbre is magnificent, the diction perfect, the voice subtle in the minutest intonations, capable of power and virtuosity that are electrifying. His presence makes this production a jewel of humour. We discovered a singer out of the ordinary whom we hope to see and hear again, often and soon." (Le Devoir, Montreal, April 1995 review of l'Opéra de Montréal production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia)

 

 

 

Last Updated: May 9, 2012

© 2000 Moira Johnson Consulting, All Rights Reserved

.
.
.

 

 

> Home

> Biography

> Repertoire

> Discography

> Schedule

> Photos

> Music Selections

> What the critics
   say...

> Winterreise CD

 

 

Contact
Booking and Public Relations
.