Director, Stetson Opera Theater
Russell Franks has enjoyed an international career both as a singer and director. He has performed to critical acclaim not only for his portrayals on the operatic stage but also for his interpretations of oratorio and song on the concert stage.
- M.M., voice performance, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music
- BM, voice performance and church music, Stetson University
- Opera Theater
- Applied Voice
- Performance Techniques
- Lyric German Diction for Singers
Areas of Expertise
In the upcoming year, Mr. Franks will direct and design Ravel's L'Enfant et les Sortile'ges, Menotti's The Telephone, and Barber's A Hand of Bridge. As newly appointed Assistant Artistic Director of Vero Beach Opera, he will continue as stage director and production designer for Bizet's Carmen as well as technically assist for VBO's remaining concerts. He will pack up his production of L'Enfant et les Sortile'ges and take it to St. Augustine for First Coast Opera's Family Opera Series in April 2019, and to Sulzbach-Rosenberg's International Music Festival (Germany) in August 2019. Last season, Mr. Franks designed and directed new productions of Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Mozart's Così Fan Tutte for Stetson University, and Puccini's Madama Butterfly for Vero Beach Opera.
In recent years, Mr. Franks has directed and performed, to critical acclaim, in a variety of European venues which included directing an international cast in Mozart's Le Nozze di Figaro under the auspices of Varna International, the State Opera of Stara Zagora and the Plovdiv State Opera at the Ancient Theatre in Plovdiv. In 2015 and 2014, he was Artist Teacher in Residence at the Sulzbach-Rosenberg International Music festival where he directed Mozart's Die Zauberflöte and sang the role of Sarastro; he also directed Monteverdi's L'Incoronazione di Poppea and sang the role of Seneca. In 2012, he sang the role of Simone in Puccini's Gianni Schicchi with Florida Opera Theater and sang the role of Amantio di Nicolau in a production he directed in Bulgaria which was paired with Suor Angelica.
In February 2013, he directed Dvorak's Rusalka in DeLand and then traveled to Vienna in May to appear as baritone soloist in a series of performances of Ein Deutsches Requiem by Brahms. Mr. Franks sang the same in northern Italy to critical acclaim. Chiara Zocca of L'Arena hailed, "Russell Franks' [voice] proved to be intense and well calibrated -- a baritone with a voice that runs with facility in each of his registers." The Vicenza Giornale noted, "Along with the two soloists, soprano Kandie Smith and baritone Russell Franks were vocally gifted and faced a challenging score with great subtlety of expression." Other directing credits with the Stetson University Opera Theatre include Rossini's L'Italiana in Algeri, Mozart's Don Giovanni and Die Zauberflöte, Smetana's The Bartered Bride, Menotti's Christmas classic Amahl and the Night Visitors, the southeastern premiere of Handel's Berenice, regina d'Egitto, Puccini's Suor Angelica and Gianni Schicchi, and Le Nozze di Figaro. He also designs and builds sets and costumes, choreographs, translates for supertitles and serves as technical director.
His career includes highlights such as performing the bass solo in Stravinsky's Les Noces with Robert Craft and appearing with Sarah Brightman in concert. He has performed side-by-side with luminaries in the operatic field including Diana Soviero, Justino Diaz, Carol Neblett, Josephine Barstow, Simon Estes, Bliss Hebert, James Lucas and Bernard Uzan, among others. He has sung roles with many opera companies including Pensacola Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Florida Festival Arts, Florida Lyric Opera Company, Opera Theater of Pittsburgh, Treasure Coast Opera and Seaside Music Theater. Among his other abilities, he is also a skilled director and has directed several musical theater pieces. He has appeared as soloist with many orchestral, concert and choral organizations, including the Bach Society of Greater Miami, Verbier Music Festival, Handel Choral Society of Orlando, Vero Beach Choral Society, Delray Beach Choral, American Festival Orchestra, Florida International University Music Fe stival, Miami Chamber Symphony, Soli Virtuosi Sinfonia of Florida, Florida Philharmonic, Artsbridge of Ohio, Gateway to Music of Southwestern Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh Baroque Ensemble, Daytona Beach Symphony Society, Pittsburgh Symphony, Florida Orchestra, Atlantic Symphony Orchestra, Mendelssohn Choir of Pittsburgh, Choral Society of Cincinnati and the Miami Symphony Orchestra.