I was creating some links in a w/u and wanted to refer to the Canadian comedienne, Anna Russell. The node was there but no w/u. Before we all forget her, I'd like to give her a very small corner of immortality in E2.

She was born in London on December 27th, 1911 and to paraphrase Mark Twain, "the reports of her demise have been greatly exaggerated." This was true as of 22-Apr-2002 when a web site reported that she was celebrating her 90th birthday in a Canadian nursing home.

Who is Anna Russell? A writer for the New York Times described her as "a kind of cross between Helen Traubel and Martha Raye … an uncanny amalgam of Joan Sutherland and Phyllis Diller." That seems a fair assessment. She has a perceptive way of seeing through the pretense and posing of the "serious" music scene and presenting it in a way that makes the audience rock with laughter. And her view of that scene is from the inside as a serious singer of serious music. I believe one of her operatic roles was that of the witch in Humperdink's Hansel and Gretel.

As composer and singer, perhaps her most famous skit is the 30-minute resume of Wagner's 20-hour opera cycle The Ring. After outlining the incestual familial relationships of the characters and the complex story line together with examples of the leitmotivs involved, she remarks off-handedly, "I'm not making this up, you know."

Her assessment of lieder singers is so true as to be comic: "Lieder singers are a bit like Gorgonzola cheese -- the older and rottener, the better." And she describes folk songs as the "uncouth vocal utterances of the people about the cares and joys of ordinary life extemporized by the singer accompanying himself on a simple instrument."

If anyone is tempted to search Google for more material on this great lady, be assured that "Wonderful, Wonderful Jesus" ascribed to an Anna Russell is not hers.

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