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Published on Oct 16, 2008
Anna Russell - The (First) Farewell Concert (1984) To end a long, hilarious career, classical music comedienne Anna Russell revived some of her best and funniest routines and took them on the road. This special PBS production, taped in Baltimore at the beginning of that 1984 tour, is a treasure for music lovers who understand that the thing they love can be charmingly goofy.
The highlight of the disc, and the routine that most fans remember most fondly, is her discussion of the Ring cycle. She tells the convoluted story of Wagner's four-installment epic, with careful attention to its absurdities, and she sings all the roles in a voice ranging shakily but with determination through soprano, alto, tenor, and bass. She does the same in her parody of a Gilbert & Sullivan operetta, and the advantage of a video recording becomes obvious when she changes funny hats while singing to show whether she is acting the heroine, villain, or chorus. -