Renowned for his luminous voice "capable of the most powerful explosions as well as the gentlest covered notes" (Toronto Star) baritone Russell Braun rightfully claims his place on the concert, opera and recital stages of the world. His intelligent and thoughtful portrayals of Chou En-lai, Billy Budd, Prince Andrei, Figaro, Papageno, Count Almaviva, Don Giovanni, Pelléas, Eugene Onegin, and The Traveller have captivated audiences at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, l'Opéra de Paris, the State Opera in Vienna, the Royal Opera, Covent Garden, the Los Angeles Opera, La Scala in Milan, the Salzburg or the Glyndebourne Festival.
A highlight of Russell's 2013-2014 season is his role debut as the Duke of Nottingham in the Canadian Opera Company's premiere production of Donizetti's Roberto Devereux. In December, Russell appears at London's Royal Festival Hall as Le Prince with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment conducted by Sir Mark Elder in a concert performance of Offenbach's comic opera Fantasio, which will also be recorded for future release. Also in concert, he reprises his highly acclaimed role of Jaufré Rudel in Saariaho's l'Amour de loin with the Oslo Philharmonic. Adding to an already challenging concert schedule, he sings Britten's War Requiem both in Glasgow with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Grand Philharmonic Choir in Kitchener-Waterloo, Vaughn Williams's A Sea Symphony with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra and Giancarlo Guerrero, Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Faure's Requiem with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Ottawa.
Recent seasons have seen Russell in performances in the Canadian Opera Company productions, including his debut as Conte di Luna in Verdi's Il Trovatore, Iphigénie en Tauride and l'Amour de Loin, in a new production of Faust at the Metropolitan Opera, and in Manon at La Scala. Concerts and recitals featured appearances with the National Arts Centre Orchestra in Carmina Burana, in Mendelssohn's Elijah with the Washington National Symphony, Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with the Smithsonian Chamber Players in Toronto's Koerner Hall, Bach's St. Matthew Passion with the Calgary Philharmonic, A Sea Symphony with the Colorado Symphony, and in recital with pianist Carolyn Maule in High River, Alberta.
The 2010-2011 season featured Russell's highly successful role debuts as Chou En-lai in John Adams's Nixon in China at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and as Olivier alongside Renée Fleming in Capriccio, also at the Met. He also toured to Japan with the ROH Covent Garden as Lesaut in Manon and made his South American debut with the Rio di Janiero Orchestra.
Other recent opera appearances include • The Traveller in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice at the Theatre an der Wien in Vienna • Lescaut in the ROH Covent Garden production of Manon • Valentin in Faust at ROH Covent Garden • the title role ofPelléas et Mélisande at La Scala • at the Opéra national de Paris in Iphegénie en Tauride, Die Zauberflöte, Cosi fan tutte, Faust, Pelléas et Mélisande • Eugene Oneginwith the San Francisco Opera • the title role in Billy Budd, as Prince Andrei in War and Peace, and as Enrico in Lucia di Lammermoor with the Canadian Opera Company. Performances have also taken him to New York's Metropolitan Opera (I Pagliacci and Il Barbiere di Siviglia), at the Salzburg Festival (Ariadne auf Naxos, Roméo et Juliette), the Vienna Staatsoper (Roméo et Juliette, Die Zauberflöte, Ariadne auf Naxos, Die Fledermaus, Billy Budd), San Diego (Les Pecheurs de Perles, Cosi fan tutte), the Glyndebourne Festival (Pelléas et Mélisande), l'Opéra de Montréal (Die Zauberflöte), and l'Opéra de Québec (Don Giovanni).
CONCERTS AND RECITALS
Concerts and recitals always have a major place on Russell's calendar. In addition to an extensive recital tour of Western Canada, in the past few seasons he has appeared with the New York Philharmonic in the World Premiere of The World in Flower a new work by Peter Lieberson, in a special 2010 Olympics performance of Mahler'sSymphony No. 8 with the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and Bramwell Tovey, at the BBC Proms in Fauré's Requiem, the Salzburg Festival in Schubert's Mass in G, the Tanglewood Festival in Brahms's Deutsche Requiem, with the St. Louis Symphony, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Toronto Symphony conducted by Bernard Labadie, in L'Enfance du Christ with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, in Elijahwith the Minnesota Orchestra and in the Duruflé Requiem with Les Violons du Roy in Québec City. His performance in Britten's War Requiem in Toronto continues to be a stand-out in Toronto's musical memory.
He has also performed in duo recital with Michael Schade in London, Edinburgh, Toronto, San Diego, Graz, Berlin, Hamburg, Vienna, Strasbourg, Ludwigsburg and Kansas City and in solo recital in Montréal, Toronto, New York, Paris (La Chapelle Royale at Versailles), Winnipeg and Ottawa. His interpretations of German Lieder have won him international acclaim - "A searching musician, Braun also has one of the world's most beautiful baritone voices. He brings a poet's soul and a young man's bewildered grief to Schubert's shattering cycle of solitude and loss." (New York Newsday).
Russell's extensive discography includes the GRAMMY-nominated Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde (Dorian), his highly acclaimed and JUNO-nominated recording of Schubert's Die Winterreise with pianist Carolyn Maule and the 2007 JUNO-award-winning recording of Mozart arias with tenor Michael Schade and soprano Isabel Bayrakdarian, both on the CBC Records label. Winterreise quickly made its mark among a revered set of recordings of the famous song-cyle - "[it] goes up against this formidable competition [Fischer-Dieskau and Goerne], as well an estimable Winterreise by Braun's late father, Victor. Braun fils's effort emerges with considerable credit...a mellifluous, musical and strongly felt interpretation." (Opera News)
Winner of the 2001 JUNO for Apollo e Daphne with Les Violons du Roy (Dorian), Russell has twice recorded Dido & Aeneas (Telarc with the Boston Baroque; CBC Records with Taflemusik), the award-winning Soirée Française with tenor Michael Schade, Le Souvenir, a collection of Canadian songs, Shattered Night, Shivering Starsfeaturing the music of Canadian composer Alexina Louie and Liebeslieder - Folksongswith the Aldeburgh Connection. Other releases include Meditation, featuring the works of Gerald Finzi (CBC Records) and Serata Italiana, a recording of Italian opera arias and duets with tenor Michael Schade (CBC Records), and Beethoven Lives Upstairs,Mozart and Magic Fantasy, and Daydreams and Lullabies on the Classical Kids Label.
Many of Russell's performances are available on DVD. Both his much-lauded portrayal of Chou En-lai in Adams's Nixon in China (Nonesuch) and his performance as Olivier in Capriccio (Decca) at the Metropolitan Opera were released on DVD as part of the company's Live-in-HD series. Also on DVD, he can be seen as Mercutio in the highly acclaimed Salzburg Festival production of Romeo et Juliette and heard in the Mark Morris dance adaptation of Dido and Aeneas. He is also featured in Alexina Louie's comic opera Burnt Toast, a series of eight 6-minute comic operas written by Dan Redican for television featuring many of Canada's brightest actors and the voices of some of its most famed opera stars.
Russell Braun makes his home near Toronto with his wife, pianist Carolyn Maule and their sons, Benjamin and Gabriel.