“Hear My Soul Speak” Finding Prospero in Shakespeare’s verbal music.

A performance research presentation from Shakespeare’s The Tempest

3 performances only at
London Theatre Workshop 
April 13-14.

This work-in-progress multi-media performance explores the mind and persona of Shakespeare’s most enigmatic protagonist, Prospero.

It does so by investigating the dramatic ramifications of sound patterning in Shakespeare’s poetry—what Peter Brook has referred to as the “verbal music” to expose the sound-world Shakespeare creates through words.

Nowhere else in Shakespeare is the action, and even the disposition of all the characters so utterly the construction of the central protagonist. Shakespeare uses the device of a stage magician – a Faustian necromancer, to explore a single character through all the stage action of the drama.

This expressionist approach to characterisation is fuelled by the most knotted, ornate and ethereal language in the Shakespearean canon. That language creates a sound world that is simultaneously the world of the island, and a sonic portrait of Prospero’s psyche.

Gerrard McArthur (Howard Barker’s The Wrestling School) plays Prospero in a performance that draws not just on Prospero’s own words, but those of his alter egos Ariel and Caliban.

The performance incorporates some of the play’s surviving music by the play’s gifted original composer Robert Johnson. Johnson was composer-in-residence to Shakespeare’s company the King’s Men in Shakespeare’s final years. This performance draws on new research into Johnson’s other surviving songs to partially reconstruct an original score for the play.

Counter-tenor Russell Harcourt 
(Oreste – Royal Opera House) sings the music of Ariel.

Through live projection, video artist Ben Glover creates a visual expression of the sonic patterning in the poetry, and the diffusion of Prospero’s persona beyond the confines of the body of the actor who ‘plays’ him throughout the other characters and the world of the play.

Book your tickets via London Theatre Workshop here.

This performance is the inaugural presentation of Persona per sona – a performance research initiative led by McArthur and Australian director Christopher Hurrell into the somatic implications for the actor of sound in the language of Shakespeare.

Gerrard McArthur and Russell Harcourt, with Alice Haig, via video as Miranda.

Director: Christopher Hurrell
Sound Designer: Nikki Aitken
Video Designer: Ben Glover
Stage Manager: Jari Laakso

London Theatre Workshop
Leadenhall Market
88 Gracechurch Street
London EC3V 0DN

More information: www.christopherhurrell.com/hear-my-soul-speak

Tickets: www.londontheatreworkshop.co.uk/hear-my-soul-speak

To support this production gofundme  https://www.gofundme.com/hearmysoulspeak

To take advantage of tax-deductible status Australian Cultural Fund

Russell Harcourt, Counter tenor – Tait update

Lovely to hear from Tait Awardee, Russell Harcourt who recently returned from Sydney after working with Pinchgut Opera.

Russell Harcourt Photo by Simon Hodgson
Russell Harcourt
Photo by Simon Hodgson

He has recently updated his website with some excerpts from the opera Vivaldi’s Bajazet. Hadleigh Adams (also a Tait prize winner) was singing the title role.

Listen to Russell sing Handel here

Russell is currently preparing David (cover) in Saul for Glyndebourne on Tour as well as participating in Janice Kerbel’s piece DOUG in Glasgow which is a Turner Prize Nominee.

Follow these links to learn more about Russell:




” …penetrating, glint-edged clarity.”
The Australian, July 7, 2015

Russell Harcourt is steadily gaining recognition on the operatic stage and concert platform throughout the UK and Australasia for a refined brilliance of vocal colour and the comic charm of his characterisations.

Russell studied voice with Graham Pushee and made his operatic début in 2007 as Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He made his Australian concert début in 2009 as a guest artist at the Australian Festival of Chamber Music and made his Royal Opera House début in the Crush Room in the Deloitte Ignite 2010 series.

Russell has recently returned from a critically acclaimed performance of Andronico in Vivaldi’s rarely performed pasticcio, Bajazet, for Sydney’s Pinchgut Opera.  Other career highlights to date include the role of Athamas in Handel’s Semele under Sir Charles Mackerras; an extensive tour with English Touring Opera including roles in Handel’s Agrippina and Monteverdi’s The Coronation of Poppea; performances of Messiah with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, alongside Teddy Tahu Rhodes, under the baton of Richard Gill; and Corrado in Vivaldi’s Griselda, also with Pinchgut Opera.

Recent engagements include Countertenor 1 (cover) The Gospel According to the Other Mary and Hunahpu (cover) Indian Queen, both for director Peter Sellars at English National Opera, Pisandro The Return of Ulysses for Iford Arts Festival under Christian Curnyn and Soloist in the European premiere of Andrew Ford’s The Past for counter-tenor, flute and string orchestra with Ruthless Jabiru under Kelly Lovelady, Australian & New Zealand Festival of Literature & Arts.

Other engagements include Volano Il Giasone under Jane Glover; Fox/Coachman (cover) The Adventures of Pinocchio Opera North; Armindo (cover) Partenope Opera Australia (Sydney and Melbourne); Zelim (cover) La verità in cimento, Licida (cover) L’Olimpiade both for Garsington Opera and Alto soloist Vanguard Australian Ballet.

Oratorio experience includes alto soloist in Handel’s Messiah, Judas Maccabaeus, Israel in Egypt, J. S. Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, excerpts from Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater and excerpts from Vivaldi’s Stabat Mater, Magnificat and Introduction and Gloria.

Prizes and scholarships include Hariclea Darclée Special Award for Excellence, The Sir Robert Askin Operatic Travelling Scholarship, Tait Memorial Trust Grant, Australian Music Foundation Awards, Ian Potter Cultural Trust Grant, Australia Council for the Arts; Skills and Arts Development Grant and the Marten Bequest Travelling Scholarship. In 2008, Russell was the winner of the prestigious Dame Joan Sutherland Award, as well as the People’s Choice Award at the same event and in 2012 he was a finalist in The Kathleen Ferrier Awards at Wigmore Hall.

Russell holds a Bachelor of Music from the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and an MA, Dip. RAM in Opera from The Royal Academy of Music. He studied part-time at the National Opera Studio and is an Associate of the Jette Parker Young Artist’s Programme at the Royal Opera House Covent Garden. He has performed in master classes for Emma Kirkby, Michael Chance, Andreas Scholl and Rosalind Plowright and he is an alumnus of the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme.

Russell currently lives in London and studies with Yvonne Kenny.

Andronico in Bajazet, Pinchgut Opera

Australian countertenor Russell Harcourt is the vacillating Prince Andronico … He has an exciting male soprano voice … excellent in recitative, growing in vocal stature as the evening progresses…”
Clive Paget, Limelight, Australia’s Classical Music & Arts Magazine, July 5, 2015

“Russell Harcourt’s Andronico is a vibrant and sometimes garish foil to the solemn fervour of Asteria.” 
Harriet Cunningham, Sydney Morning Herald, July 5, 2015

“Russell Harcourt rang with impressive vocal consistency as Andronico … Characterised by a beautifully aspirated smooth falsetto that comfortably reached dizzying highs, Harcourt gave a memorable performance.” 
Paul Selar, BachTrack, July 6, 2015

Narciso in Agrippina, English Touring Opera

“Russell Harcourt’s fawning Narciso, a dessicated cleric who sings like a nightingale”
Michael Church, The Independent

“Russell Harcourt was nimble-voiced and wickedly self-serving as Narciso”
Peter Reed, Classical Source

Athamas in Semele, Royal Academy of Music

“Russell Harcourt was exceptional. Fine attack, varied tone, stunning decoration, accomplished breath control, and with a clipped acting style that fitted the role like a glove.”
Peter Reed,  Opera Magazine

“Harcourt however, not only possesses a beautiful voice and a fine technique, but proved himself to be one of the strongest actors in the show.”
Calvin Wells, Opera Brittania

Nutrice in Poppea, English Touring Opera

“Russell Harcourt was very soignee looking [and] brought great vocal character to the role”. 
Robert Hugill, Planet Hugill, 2013

Corrado in Griselda, Pinchgut Opera

“…Russell Harcourt’s role as Corrado, isn’t designed to win hearts but his performance certainly doesn’t lose any. Snappy exchanges…are vociferous and precise.”
Neville Olliffe, Early Music Association of NSW, 2011

Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, WAAPA

“Russell Harcourt made an impressive King of the Fairies. His Oberon was consistently majestic; he moved around the stage as if it were his natural domain and his voice was informed by a slightly sinister quality that sounded entirely right.”
Neville Cohn, The West Australian