Henry Russell (impresario)

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Henry Russell (14 November 1871 – 11 October 1937) was an English impresario, conductor, director, and singing teacher.


Henry Ronald Russell was born in London, the son of Henry Russell, a composer, pianist, and baritone, and his partner (later wife) Hannah de Lara. He was the brother of the musician Landon Ronald and half brother of the novelist William Clark Russell and Henry Lloyd Russell, an Anglican priest.[1] He was educated at St Marylebone Grammar School and then pursued studies in singing and conducting in Italy.

Russell began his career as a singing teacher, first in London and then in Rome. He then worked as a conductor at various opera houses in Italy. In 1904 he established the San Carlo Opera Company (SCOC), originally a touring arm of the Teatro di San Carlo of Naples, Italy. The company soon became its own institution and toured to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, London in late 1905. Russell and his company were responsible for presenting the whole 1905-1906 season at Covent Garden, and Russell directed or conducted all the productions.

After completing the season in London, Russell and the SCOC went to Boston in the United States in 1906. The group remained based in Boston and gave tours annually of mostly Italian operas throughout the United States from 1906-1909 in addition to giving performances in Boston. With the opening of the Boston Opera House in 1909, the company essentially became the seed for the newly formed Boston Opera Company (BOC), which Russell co-founded with the Bostonian millionaire Eben Jordan, Jr.. He continued to direct the BOC until it went bankrupt in 1915.

After the BOC folded, Russell went to work for the Metropolitan Opera in New York as the company's associate director. He eventually returned to England where he was involved in directing productions at the Waldorf Theatre in London. He also directed a season of operas at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris.

Russell married three times, first to Nina Hannah da Costa Andrade (b. 1870) whom he married in 1895. There were two children of the marriage: Henry Tosti Russell and Sheridan William Robin Russell. His second wife was Donna Shinn (b. about 1882), and his third was Patricia Ethel Blackwood (b. 1902) whom he married in 1926. There were no children of the second and third marriages.[2] He died in London at the age of 65.


  1. ^ Holden, Raymond. "Ronald, Sir Landon (1873–1938)", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, 2004; online edition, Oct 2008, accessed 6 February 2013 (subscription or UK public library membership required)
  2. ^ Russell Family History, Rootsweb, Ancestry.com, accessed 7 February 2013