Stephanie Rhodes Russell is an alum of the Dallas Opera’s Institute for Women Conductors, the Houston Grand Opera Studio and San Francisco’s Merola Opera Program. She was a Conducting Fellow with the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra from 2019-2021, where she appeared regularly with the ensemble leading education, family, and community concerts while serving as cover conductor for the symphonic subscription series. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Solti Foundation U.S. Career Assistance Award, designed to aid outstanding young conductors in developing their talents and careers.
During the 2023-2024 season, the conductor makes debuts with Washington National Opera, leading Jeanine Tesori’s The Lion, the Unicorn, and Me, and Arizona Opera, adding Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette to her repertoire. With Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music, she will conduct performances of Tchaikovsky’s masterwork Eugene Onegin.
Ms. Rhodes Russell’s 2022-2023 season included company debuts with Austin Opera (Il barbiere di Siviglia), Utah Opera (La fille du régiment), and Cincinnati Opera (The Knock), as well as returns to Madison Opera (Le nozze di Figaro) and Wolf Trap Opera (Don Giovanni).
The previous season included leading performances of Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah with Wolf Trap Opera, her debut with Opera Orlando conducting Verdi’s La traviata, and a collaboration with Lyric Opera of Chicago, leading a workshop of Git Here (Daniel Bernard Roumain/Anna Deavere Smith) and Four Portraits (Caroline Shaw/Jocelyn Clark). She initially planned to serve as Music Director for Opera Philadelphia’s production of Henze’s El Cimarrón during the season, but it was unfortunately cancelled due to the effects of COVID-19.
Stephanie Rhodes Russell’s 2020-2021 season included scheduled returns to the Dallas Opera to conduct Bizet’s Dr. Miracle, a concert of opera excerpts at the NorthPark Center, and the highly anticipated “Lawrence Brownlee: Songs for Dallas” concert in the AT&T Performing Arts Center. Additionally, she conducted a filmed production of Britten’s Turn of the Screw with the Temple University Opera Program, and in the summer of 2021 she joined Madison Opera for their annual Opera in the Park program.
Ms. Rhodes Russell frequently draws on her Russian specialty, and during the summer of 2020, conducted excerpts of Tchaikovksy’s Eugene Onegin for Wolf Trap Opera, a change from the scheduled full production due to Covid-19. A Fulbright award recipient in Russia, she lived in Moscow specializing in Russian repertoire and pronunciation for non-native singers while working as a guest coach at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia. She was thereafter commissioned by The Dallas Opera to transliterate Tchaikovsky’s Iolanta and has taught workshops on Russian diction for singers at young artist programs and universities across the United States. Immediately following her 2020 performances with Wolf Trap Opera, she returned to Fort Worth to lead the Symphony Orchestra in the Concerts in the Garden 4th of July performances.
Following her work on the San Francisco Opera Ring Cycle, she was appointed the 2019 Associate Conductor of the Grand Teton Music Festival, where she served as assistant to Music Director Donald Runnicles and led the GTMF orchestra in the Hartley Family Concert. Additionally, she performed as a pianist in the festival’s renowned Chamber Music Concert Series.
Other recent engagements include concerts with the American Festival Chorus and Orchestra, performances of Handel’s Alcina at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, an engagement with Washington National Opera’s forum for new works, the American Opera Initiative, and The Magic Flute and Dido and Aeneas with the Miami Music Festival. Highlights as an Assistant Conductor include work on two Wagner Ring Cycles with conductors Philippe Auguin and Donald Runnicles and productions of Iolanta, Eugene Onegin, and Queen of Spades with Emmanuel Villaume and Carlo Rizzi. She has served on the music staff of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia, The Dallas Opera, Houston Grand Opera, LA Opera, San Francisco Opera, and Washington National Opera, amongst others, and her extensive operatic experience in the roles of assistant conductor, prompter, chorusmaster, rehearsal pianist, and diction coach, brings a comprehensive understanding to her work.
Beginning in autumn 2022, Stephanie Rhodes Russell will be Associate Professor and Music Director of Opera at the University of North Texas. This position intersects with her strong interest in educating the next generation of artists, which also led her to found the non-profit Women’s Artistic Leadership Initiative (Women’s ALI). The organization’s aim is to educate and empower young female artists, training them to become future community leaders by equipping them with both leadership skills and business acumen. She holds degrees in Collaborative Piano and Piano Performance from the University of Michigan and Utah State University, respectively, and completed a doctorate in Orchestral Conducting at the University of Utah.