Russell Harcourt

Countertenor
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Australasia
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Countertenor Russell Harcourt is a graduate of both the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, where he is now a member of the vocal faculty, and the Royal Academy of Music (MA with Distinction in Opera Performance). During his time in London, Russell furthered his studies with Yvonne Kenny, was an Associate of the Jette Parker Young Artists’ Program at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, studied part-time at the National Opera Studio, and was made an Alumnus of the Britten–Pears Young Artist Program.

In 2024 Russell will make his debuts with Opera Australia as Rosenkrantz (Hamlet: Dean) and with West Australian Opera in the title role of Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice. He will also return to the Bach Akademie Australia in performances which will include the Bach solo cantata No. 170: “Vergnügte Ruh”.

Russell’s most recent engagements include the role of Andronico (Giustino) for Pinchgut Opera; Micah (Samson) and Haydn Nelson Mass with Sydney Philharmonia Choirs; The Marias Project at Blackheath Chamber Music Festival; a series of concerts with the Bach Akademie Australia; Ruggiero (Alcina) with National Opera Canberra; and Messiah with Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. He has also participated in a series of concerts with Sara Macliver for the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra; performed Evanco (Rodrigo) for the Gőttingen International Handel Festival; Roberto (Griselda) for Irish National Opera; Sesto (Julius Caesar) for Bury Court Opera; Megabise (Artaxerxes), Andronico (Bajazet) and Corrado (Griselda) all for Pinchgut Opera; John Adams’ Gospel According to the Other Mary at Bonn Opera; Schnittke’s Faust Cantata; Recitals with the Lithuanian National Philharmonic; Bach B minor Mass with Florilegium; Pisandro (Return of Ulysses) for Iford Arts Festival; Narciso (Agrippina) and a concert tour of works by Vivaldi, for English Touring Opera, and covered the roles of David (Saul) and Rosencrantz for Glyndebourne Festival & Glyndebourne on Tour. He also stepped in at short notice to perform the title role in Handel’s Oreste for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden at Wilton’s Music Hall.

Russell made his operatic début in 2007 as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), and his Australian concert début in 2009 as a guest artist at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music. For Brisbane Baroque, Russell appeared in the role of Nerone in the Australian Premiere of the Göttingen International Handel Festival’s production of Agrippina (for which he received a Helpmann Award nomination as Best Male Performer in a Supporting Role in opera) and in concert in The Art of the Countertenor. He has also appeared as soloist in Vanguard with the Australian Ballet, and Messiah under Richard Gill with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington.

Prizes and scholarships include The Sir Robert Askin Travelling Scholarship, Tait Memorial Trust Grant, Australian Music Foundation Award, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant, The Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship, and an Australia Council Grant.

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“Russell Harcourt is an utter revelation on this piece. It’s not that Love Me Sweet (Carl Vine) is technically difficult, but Harcourt shows his understanding and intent in the shaping of every phrase with such empathy, such finesse and with the extraordinary tonal quality of his voice.”

Mandy Stefanakis

“The countertenor (Russell) Harcourt is the star of the top-class ensemble. A beautiful voice, a virile stage appearance, a singer who has what it takes for a great career”.

Zerlina von Faninals

... Russell Harcourt with his high, highly virtuosic, but darkly coloured voice is for me the ideal soprano (castrato) voice…..one would like to hear him as Tamerlano.

“…Russell Harcourt's voice as Megabise had a tone of penetrating edge and suppleness, befitting a character with no redeeming features”.

Peter McCallum

“… As her son, Sesto, Russell Harcourt looked and sounded authentically boyish, and his clear-cut linear timbre, more soprano than alto, contrasted to satisfying effect…”

Yehuda Shapiro

"Oreste was indisposed…her place taken by established countertenor Russell Harcourt. He’s an impressive Handelian, with a thrilling top register and assured technique."

Stephen Pritchard

Managed by Graham Pushee: Email Graham February 2024

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