Russell is an opera director and composer with more than twenty-five years’ experience in the sector.
He began as an assistant director at English Touring Opera and Welsh National Opera but soon felt the need to start producing his own work.
In 2003 he formed Opera Up Close in London in the belief that there was an audience for well-crafted unfamiliar works and he directed operas by Ullmann, Poulenc and Milhaud.
In late 2017 he returned to his native Hull and formed Hull Urban Opera where he remains artistic director. His first opera, Christmas Meeting, was the company’s first production and he’ll direct his second, Mr Tilly’s Seance, based on a short story by EF Benson, in late 2021.
Russell is passionate about new music and has commissioned two operas from exciting young Belgian composer Lente Verelst as well as shorter concert works from Anna Appleby, Ella Jarman-Pinto, Rose Dodd and Katie Chatburn.
Education & Outreach
Charlotte Fong, née Coggin was born in Beverley and graduated with a degree in Music from Leeds in 2008 where she studied singing, specialising in Opera. The same year she joined Cambridge University, graduating in 2009 with a PGCE in secondary music teaching.
Charlotte is an experienced classroom practitioner, workshop leader and educational consultant. Charlotte began her teaching career as Director of Music at Bourne Grammar School in South Lincolnshire, where she lived and worked for 7 years. Charlotte also works as a freelance educational consultant, most notably working with the Royal Opera House in 2016. Later that year, Charlotte returned to Hull and began teaching at Wyke Sixth Form College as well as leading choral workshops for Opera North, Radius Opera and for Hull Urban Opera. Charlotte took up the post of Director of Music at Hymers College in 2019.
Charlotte enjoys the role of Co-Director and Founder of Culture Music Ltd, leading educational outreach with local schools and colleges in Hull. She also performs as a clarinettist for the Culture:Orchestra and conducts Culture:Voce.
Planning & Adminstration
George joined the company as an intern in 2020 to complete his Arts Management degree from Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, after which he stayed on as administrator and web developer to support the artistic director.
George trained in dance with Australian Ballet School and Victorian College of the Arts Secondary School. He has direct experience of opera as a dancer and a keen interest in the form.
In addition to his administrative duties, he is working with the artistic director to develop a 5-year strategy for HUO including mission and funding work. Most recently, he has been responsible for developing the online element of HUO’s new dark-web opera, Crocodile.
In his spare time George enjoys a piccolo latte at an Arts Cafe and being a living statue.