Skip to main content

Hugh Russell, baritone

Canadian baritone Hugh Russell continues to receive high praise for his charisma, dramatic energy and vocal beauty. He is widely acclaimed for his performances in the operas of Mozart and Rossini, and is regularly invited to perform with symphony orchestras throughout North America. At the center of his orchestral repertoire is Orff’s popular Carmina Burana, which Mr. Russell has performed with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Cleveland Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, Houston Symphony, Pittsburgh Symphony, Seattle Symphony, Toronto Symphony, and Vancouver Symphony, among others. The New Orleans Times-Picayune said, “Baritone Hugh Russell also grasped the theatrical nature of Orff’s work, nearly stealing the show with a voice that ranged from organ-deep rumbles to flute-like falsetto – and an acting style that drew roars of laughter as he captured the bullishness of an intoxicated medieval abbot.”

In the current season, he performs Carmina Burana with the New Mexico Philharmonic, and in Mexico City under the baton of Carlos Miguel Prieto. He sings Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Orchestre Metropolitain de Montreal and Yannick Nezet-Seguin and will join Palm Beach Opera in the role of Major General Stanley in Pirates of Penzance. Last season, Hugh Russell joined Calgary Opera as Papageno in The Magic Flute. Orchestral engagements included Carmina Burana with the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and the Grand Rapids Symphony, as well as Rachmaninoff’s The Bells and with the Cincinnati Symphony. In the 2014-2015 season, Mr. Russell performed the role of Falke in Die Fledermaus with Vancouver Opera. Orchestral engagements included Faure’s Requiem with the Dallas Symphony, opera scenes with the Princeton Symphony, and Carmina Burana with the Rhode Island Philharmonic, the West Michigan Symphony, and the Louisville Orchestra.

Mr. Russell performed Carmina Burana with the Pittsburgh Symphony, the Israel Philharmonic, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in the 2013-14 season. Also that season, he debuted Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Orquestra Sinfonica del Principado de Asturias in Oviedo, Spain.

On the operatic stage, he made his company debut with Cincinnati Opera as Father Palmer in Kevin Puts’ opera Silent Night, and sang Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri in his debut with the Calgary Opera. In the 2012-2013 season, Mr. Russell made debuts with the Danish Radio Symphony, under the baton of the late Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos as well as with the Naples Philharmonic, both in performances of Carmina Burana. Additional performances included Rachmaninoff’s The Bells with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, and his return to Opera Theatre of St. Louis as General Stanley in The Pirates of Penzance.

The 2011-2012 season brought performances of Carmina Burana with the Indianapolis Symphony and new Music Director Krzysztof Urbanski, the National Symphony Orchestra, and Los Angeles Philharmonic under Mo. Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos, the Milwaukee Symphony under Andreas Delfs, and the Houston Symphony under Music Director Hans Graf. Mr. Russell appeared with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony and Music Director Edwin Outwater in a season-opening Gala, and returned later for performances of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. He returned to the Vancouver Symphony for concerts with Music Director Bramwell Tovey of Brahms’ Ein deutsches Requiem and Songs of a Wayfarer. He added John Adams’ The Wound-Dresser in performances with the Toledo Symphony and was heard in the title role of The Barber of Seville with Opera Hamilton.

During the 2010–2011 season, Mr. Russell made his UK debut as Virginio in Mercadante’s Virginia at the Wexford Festival. He joined Edo de Waart and the Milwaukee Symphony for performances of Vaughan Williams’ Sea Symphony and sang Papageno in Die Zauberflöte in his debut with Manitoba Opera. Additional performances included Carmina Burana with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Vail and at his alma mater, the Oberlin Conservatory. Mr. Russell began the 2009–2010 season as Lescaut in performances of Massenet’s Manon for Angers-Nantes Opéra. He returned to Atlanta Opera as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte and was heard in concert performances of Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer and Fauré’s Requiem with Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and Carmina Burana with Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony Orchestra and Sarasota Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Russell began the 2008–2009 season as Dandini in La Cenerentola with Atlanta Opera. He was also heard as Belcore in L’elisir d’amore with Arizona Opera, and made his role debut as Papageno in Die Zauberflöte with Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestra London. He continued his success as baritone soloist in Carmina Burana with the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Leonard Slatkin and with Pittsburgh Symphony, Vancouver Symphony, Edmonton Symphony, New Mexico Symphony and National Symphony Orchestra.

Mr. Russell has seen performances at the New York City Opera, where he made his company debut singing the title role in Il barbiere di Siviglia, as well as the Los Angeles Opera, where he sang Harlequin in Ariadne auf Naxos conducted by Kent Nagano. He was both an Adler Fellow and a member of the Merola Opera Program at San Francisco Opera, where he was heard in Ariadne auf Naxos and in Messiaen’s St François d’Assise. The San Francisco Classical Voice proclaimed, “He seems born for the stage. And with a lyrical voice boasting a strong and exciting top end, he is a complete performer.”

As a member of the Pittsburgh Opera Center, Mr. Russell sang the roles of Malatesta in Don Pasquale, the title role in Pelléas et Mélisande, and Guglielmo in Così fan tutte, a role he has also performed with Boston Baroque. Reviewing the latter performance, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review wrote, “Baritone Hugh Russell was magnificent… His was also the most completely acted performance.” A further triumph with this company was his performance in Dominick Argento’s Postcard from Morocco. He has also been a regular performer with the New York Festival of Song and has sung in the Festival’s recitals at Merkin Concert Hall, the Kaye Playhouse, and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and was cited by the New York Times for his “lovely sound.” On the orchestral concert stage, he has been heard in Carmina Burana with the Seattle and San Francisco Symphonies, in Fauré’s Requiem with the Orquestra de Sevilla, and in Tobias Picker’s Tres sonetos de amor with L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg, among many others. Other recent operatic engagements have included the lead role of the Pilot in Rachel Portman’s The Little Prince with Boston Lyric Opera; Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri with Vancouver Opera; Valentin in Faust with Pittsburgh Opera; and Taddeo in L’italiana in Algeri and Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus with Arizona Opera.