Bernard McDonald

Selected Operatic Repertoire
Review Excerpts
Web site

Scottish conductor Bernard McDonald is fast establishing an international freelance career, having garnered wide-ranging experience the traditional way as a coach, assistant conductor and chorus director with major companies in Europe, America and the Far East. This Fall, he succeeds longtime opera director Robert Larsen at Simpson College.

Maestro McDonald recently conducted L’incantesimo (Montemezzi), Gianni Schicchi, Le nozze di Figaro, and Amahl and the Night Visitors for Opera Theater of Pittsburgh; Cavalli’s Ormindo for Pittsburgh Opera Center; La tragedie de Carmen for De Nieuwe Opera Academie, Amsterdam; and the annual Young Artists’ showcase at the New National Theatre Tokyo. Other engagements have included assisting Julius Rudel for Street Scene and preparing Weill’s Die sieben Todsünden at the Aspen Music Festival. He was the assistant conductor for Don Giovanni and Die Fledermaus, New National Theatre Tokyo; was guest chorus director for Cavalleria rusticana and Pagliacci (Netherlands Opera); prepared Manon Lescaut and Don Quichotte (Netherlands Radio Choir); and was assistant conductor on La bohème for Glyndebourne.

For several seasons, Bernard was based full-time at Glyndebourne, where as chorus master he prepared over 25 productions to great critical acclaim for a host of international conductors including Idomeneo with Sir Simon Rattle, Theodora with Harry Bicket, Die Zauberflöte with Sir Charles Mackerras, Otello with Vladimir Jurowski, among many others. 

After professional training at the Merola program of San Francisco Opera, Bernard McDonald joined the staff of New York City Opera where he worked on repertoire ranging from Acis and Galatea to The Love for Three Oranges.  He was subsequently the Chorus Master and Head of Music at Florida Grand Opera in Miami, the repertoire included Boris Godunov, Faust, Cavalleria rusticana, Pagliacci and Madama Butterfly.

A native of Dumbarton, he studied piano at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and opera coaching and conducting at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music. He made his opera-conducting debut with Don Giovanni in 1999.




Selected Operatic Repertoire

As Conductor:
Don Giovanni
Eve’s Odds (Trinkley)
The Yeomen of the Guard
West Side Story
St. Nicolas (Britten)
A Hand of Bridge
Fables (Rorem)

As chorus master:
Acis and Galatea
La Bohème
Love for Three Oranges
La traviata
The Ballad of Baby Doe
Die Tote Stadt
The Aspern Papers
Boris Godunov
Tristan und Isolde
La Princesse Jaune
Die Zauberflöte
Manon Lescaut
Bartered Bride

As assistant conductor/coach:
Madama Butterfly
Il Viaggio a Reims
Il Barbiere di Siviglia
Ariane (Martinu)
The Aspern Papers
Street Scene
Die sieben Todsünden
Der Kaiser von Atlantis
Le Nozze di Figaro
Don Pasquale
Die Fledermaus
La Bohème

Professional covers:
Die Fledermaus (Tokyo)
La Bohème (Glyndebourne)
Le Nozze di Figaro (Glyndebourne)
Don Giovanni (Tokyo)
Madama Butterfly (Miami)


British (U.S. Employment/Residence Authorized) Age: 32 (D.O.B. 01/13/73)

Current Main Occupation:
Chorus Master of Glyndebourne (from April 2003)

Previous Occupation:
Chorus Master and Head of Music, Florida Grand Opera, Miami (2001-2003)

Recent Engagements:
Assistant Conductor, Don Giovanni, New National Theatre Tokyo (2005)
Visiting Professor and Conductor, Barry University, Miami, Florida (2003)
Assistant Conductor and Senior Coach, Aspen Music Festival (Summer 2002)
Assistant Chorus Master, New York City Opera, (2000-2001)
Vocal Coach, Manhattan School of Music, New York City (2000-2001)
Chorus Master, L’Opéra Français de New York, New York City (01/2001)
Coach/Accompanist, Opera Theatre of Lucca, Italy (1999)

Professional Training:
San Francisco Opera, Merola Program, Apprentice Coach (2000)

Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (Artist Diploma in Opera Coaching, 2000)
Guildhall School of Music & Drama (Répétiteur Course, 1997-98)
Royal Scottish Academy of Music & Drama (B.A. Musical Studies, 1996)
St. Patrick’s High School, Dumbarton (1984-1990)

Conductors assisted/preparation for include:
Jirí Belohlávek, Simon Rattle, Mark Wigglesworth, Julius Rudel, Harry Bicket, Louis Langrée,
Jane Glover, Kenneth Montgomery, George Manahan, Carlo Rizzi, Will Crutchfield, Yves Abel,
Vladimir Jurowski, Stewart Robertson, Paolo Carignani, Markus Stenz, Niels Muus,
Sir Charles Mackerras, Edo de Waart, William Christie

Piano Teachers:
Phillip Kawin (New York), Paul Roberts (London), Jean Hutchison (Glasgow)

Warren Jones, John Bacon, Mark Shanahan, Clive Timms

Other Work:
Music Director, Greenock Philharmonic Society, Scotland, 1997-98
Rehearsal pianist, Glasgow University Choral Society, Helensburgh
Oratorio Choir (1991-94) Recitals: with Mezzo-soprano Suzanne Lommler and the Edinburgh
Quartet at the Loch Sheil Spring Festival & Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh (2002)

Musical Theatre Conducting includes: My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Anything Goes, Annie, The Boyfriend, Hans Andersen

Sir James Caird’s Travelling Scholarship, Scotland, 1998-2000
Corbett Scholarship, United States, 1998-2000
Sir Henry Richardson Award for Répétiteurs, London, 1998
Tullochan Trust Award, Scotland, 1998

Sir Simon Rattle CBE\tSir Charles Mackerras
c/o Lisa Battersby\t10 Hamilton Terrace
Askonas Holt, Ltd.\tLondon
Lonsdale Chambers\tNW8 9UG
27 Chancery Lane
London WC2A 1PF

Review Excerpts

“Bernard McDonald can be proud of his Glyndebourne Chorus, whose singing again was sublime”
Musical Opinion, September 2003

“Glyndebourne’s superb chorus (they really were the stars of this year’s festival) cannot be praised enough…”
Opera Now, November 2003

“A special bouquet to the chorus… – never better, to my recollection”
Daily Telegraph, December 2003

“It is hard to imagine any of this without…the lively young Glyndebourne Chorus. The chorus is the soul of the opera and of this production” (Idomeneo)
Los Angeles Times, June 24, 2003

“Glyndebourne’s chorus was in tremendous form” (Theodora)
The Daily Telegraph, August 12, 2003

“The Glyndebourne Chorus, individually and collectively, was simply superb.”
The Independent, August 2004

“The chorus in particular excelled itself, not only in the beauty and expressiveness of its singing but also in its acting” (Theodora)
Sunday Telegraph, August 24, 2003

“The young chorus, always a special feature of Glyndebourne performances, were at their very best, which is saying something.” (Idomeneo)
Sunday Telegraph, June 15, 2003

“… die Sanger des Glyndebourne Chorus eine tragende Rolle Spielten, war nicht zuletzt prazisen, dynamische Akzente setzenden Choreinstudierung von Bernard McDonald zu verdanken.” (Idomeneo)
Das Opernglas, September 2003

“Il coro di Glyndebourne contribuisce all’eccellenza del risultato musicale, tanto da rendere una incisione nel prossimo futuro con lo stesso ensemble piu che auspicabile.” (Idomeneo)
Il giornale della musica, Summer 2003

“The Glyndebourne chorus was superb (I have never heard the Smoking chorus in Act 1 more beautifully sung).” (Carmen)
Opera, October 2004