Anna Russell, the British commedienne, beloved for her parodies of opera, has died in Australia. A failed opera singer, she became famous in the states for her 1956 New York concert recording featuring a 22-minute synopsis of Wagner's Ring cycle. She toured the world with her musical shows, written and performed solo, until 1986, when she retired to New South Wales. Her catchphrase, taken from the bestselling 1956 album, was "I'm not making this up" -- used in reference to the unlikely mythological antics of Wagner's Norse gods and heroes. Russell saved many a high school classical-music geek from utter humorlessness; does anyone other than the apparently tireless Peter Schickele still manufacture in-jokes to while away the hours filing LPs in the music library? Visit Russell's infrequently-updated shrine for lyrics and an index to her recordings and books. If you must break the news of her demise to them, though, please be gentle.
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