In Conversation

Paul Dyer & Russell Harcourt

In this special interview hear from Artistic Director Paul Dyer and soloist Russell Harcourt as they discuss singing, castrati, opera and the history of the countertenor voice. 


Russell Harcourt is a graduate of both the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and the Royal Academy of Music (MA with Distinction in Opera Performance).

Since relocating to London, Russell has been 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 has been made an Alumnus of the Britten–Pears Young Artist Program. Russell currently studies with Yvonne Kenny.

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, Townsville. His Royal Opera House début followed in the Crush Room in the Deloitte Ignite 2010 series.

Russell’s recent engagements include Evanco in Rodrigo for the Gottingen International Handel Festival under Laurence Cummings, Roberto in Vivaldi’s Griselda under Peter WhelanSesto in Handel’s Giulio Cesare for Bury Court Opera under Dane Lam, and a return to Australia to perform Megabise in Hasse’s Artaxerxes for Pinchgut Opera under Erin Helyard. 

Further engagements include Countertenor 1 in John Adams’ Gospel According to the other Mary at Bonn Opera, Schnittke Faust Cantata, and recitals with the Lithuanian National Philharmonic, and Bach B minor mass with Florilegium. He also covered Rosencrantz in Brett Dean’s Hamlet for the Glyndebourne Festival & Glyndebourne on Tour and David in Handel’s Saul for Glyndebourne on Tour, he performed the role of Pisandro in Return of Ulysses for Iford Arts Festival under Christian Curnyn, Narciso in Agrippina as well as a concert tour of works by Vivaldi, both for English Touring Opera. He also stepped in to perform the title role in Handel’s Oreste for the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden at Wilton's Music Hall. 

For Brisbane Baroque, Russell appeared in the role of Nerone in the Australian Premiere of the Gottingen 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 Counter Tenor. He has also appeared as soloist in Vanguard with the Australian Ballet, in Messiah under Richard Gill with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington, as well as performing Corrado Griselda and Andronicus Bajazet with Pinchgut Opera. 

Russell currently studies with Yvonne Kenny. 

Watch Russell perform with harpsichordist and organist Heidi Jones here.

Biography: Russell Harcourt, 2020
Photo: Keith Saunders, 2020