Meet the Soloists: Sally-Anne Russell

Mezzo-soprano: Sally-Anne Russell

Mezzo-soprano: Sally-Anne Russell

In the lead-up to Gloriana’s twentieth-anniversary performance of JS Bach’s Mass in B Minor we take some time out to profile our soloists who, alongside the chamber choir and orchestra, will help bring Bach’s original vision to fruition.

We’ll be meeting with every soloist and asking them the same three questions.

Profile: Sally-Anne Russell

Sally-Anne is a guest principal with Opera Australia, performs with all Symphony Australia Orchestras and is a recitalist and recording artist. She has sung in ten countries and has over forty operatic roles to her credit. Operatic roles include Isabella – L’Italiana in Algeri, Angelina – La Cenerentola, RosinaIl Barbiere di Siviglia, Jo – Little Women (Australian Premiere), Cherubino – Le Nozze di
Figaro (Green Room Award Nomination), Dorabella – Cosi fan TutteBradamante – Alcina, Sesto – Guilio Cesare, Mallika – Lakme and Hansel – Hansel and Gretel.

Recordings include – solo operatic disc Enchanting, Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater (2005 Listeners Choice ARIA), Bach Arias and Duets (ARIA Nominated), Mozart Requiem, Top 100 ABC Concert Gala, Opera Australia’s Golden Jubilee/50th Anniversary DVDs (ABC Classics), Prokofiev’s Love for Three Oranges (Chandos) and The No 1 Classical Album 2007 and 2009 (Decca).

Recent appearances have included Suzuki – Madama Butterfly for Opera Australia, Nicklausse/Muse in Tales of Hoffmann, Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Rosina in Barber of Seville, Handel’s Belshazzar, Berlioz’s Nuit D’Ete, Bellini’s La Sonnambula, Verdi’s Falstaff, Bach’s Magnificat. Concerts for Brisbane Festival, Musica Viva, Australian String Quartet, Melbourne, West Australian, Tasmanian
and Adelaide Symphonies, Coriole Festival, Orchestra Victoria, Opera In The Vineyards, New South Wales Art Gallery, World Premiere of Nootka and Bacalov’s Misa Tango in Canada and a 9th season at the Carmel Bach Festival in California.

The Three Questions

1. What does Bach’s music mean to you personally?

I never tire of Mr Bach. FULL STOP THE END. Whether it be a Passion, Cantata, French Suite, Partita, Cello Suite or whatever .. I have hundreds of discs of many different players/ensembles/singers/orchestras.

2. What do you think makes Bach’s music so universal in its appeal?

Two words: precision and passion. No matter who sings or plays, it is a different interpretation but everyone is striving for that eternal long line phrase, accuracy of pitch, even note values and finding the joy in it!

Bach’s music is also fiendishly difficult for both players and singers alike so perhaps that is part of the challenge? Am I ever allowed to breathe? Anywhere?

Actually, I think it is how I actually originally came to know Andrew — over Bach CDs!

3. What can you tell us about the solos you are singing in the B minor Mass?

My solos keep me on my toes, they are all different and I also have 2 duets both with the soprano. I sing the Laudamus Te, Qui Sedes and the fabulous Agnus Dei. I am fortunate they sit in a happy place in my voice, whether at 440 or at 415 as in this performance. They are spread quite nicely throughout so you have no real chance to become vocally cold.

I suppose the Agnus Dei would be my favourite and I’m striving for long line breathing, delicacy and poignancy of text, and trying to find that weave between my supporting string section and the voice. It is sandwiched between the joyful, florid Osanna and the final Dona nobis so I need to try and find a mood of stillness and introversion within the aria.


Gloriana will be performing Bach’s Mass in B Minor at St Paul’s Cathedral, Melbourne, on Friday 13 June at 8 pm. Tickets are available at the door. 

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