<John Mac Master - Canadian tenor Biography

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"As provocative as the staging was (Pagliacci – Glimmerglass Opera), the real news there was John Mac Master’s portrayal of Canio. A Canadian tenor with a huge, powerful voice, he summoned every bit of the pathos and violence that the role demands."
Allan Kozinn – New York Times

Since his astonishing portrayal of Canio in PAGLIACCI at Glimmerglass Opera, John Mac Master has been in demand at the highest international level for the dramatic tenor repertoire. Performances and recording projects have included Florestan in FIDELIO with Sir Colin Davis in London, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with Sir Bernard Haitink (both with the London Symphony Orchestra) and his debut at Dresden’s Semper Oper as Calaf in TURANDOT conducted by Fabio Luisi. Mr. Mac Master’s acclaimed Metropolitan Opera debut came as Canio in PAGLIACCI in performances that included the Saturday Afternoon ‘Live from the Met’ radio broadcast. Of particular note was his assumption of the role of Tristan in TRISTAN UND ISOLDE for Welsh National Opera conducted by Mark Wigglesworth and a subsequent outing at the Met in this demanding role, with Levine in the pit. His recent schedule also included performances of Verdi’s REQUIEM at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa with Zukerman, Aegisth in ELEKTRA for the Canadian Opera Company, Janacek’s GLAGOLITIC MASS with William Eddins and the Edmonton Symphony plus PAGLIACCI and ARIADNE AUF NAXOS (both for Vancouver Opera).

Mr. Mac Master continues to be in demand for heroic repertoire. In recent seasons (2013-16) he has performed the Verdi REQUIEM with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Yannick Nézet-Séguin in their residency at Vail CO, and with the Laval Symphony and their maestro Alain Trudel; and returned to Detroit's Michigan Opera Theatre for Florestan in FIDELIO. A career highlight was the first staged opera in Kimmel Hall, when Nézet-Séguin led the famed Philadelphia Orchestra in semi-staged performances of SALOME. Another Elektra brought him back to Opéra de Montréal, again with Yannick at the podium. Upcoming performances include CARMINA BURANA with the McGill Chamber Orchestra, and a return to Opéra de Montréal.

For the 2012-13 season he was once again to the Orchestre Métropolitain and Nézet-Séguin for the Verdi Requiem and DEAD MAN WALKING for Opéra de Montréal and hee reprised OTELLO for Calgary Opera.

In the 2011-12 season he repeated a number of his signature roles including FIDELIO for Edmonton Opera, a concert performance of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with the Seoul Philharmonic, Herodes in SALOME for New Orleans Opera and Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in Victoria and Seattle, and performed the heroic tenor solos in Mahler's Symphony No. 8 for the Toronto Symphony.

Highlights of the 2010-2011 season include PAGLIACCI for Kentucky Opera, GLAGOLITIC MASS in Atlanta, at Carnegie Hall and with the Toronto Symphony, Herodes in SALOME for Opéra de Montréal, Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE for Vancouver Symphony and the West Virginia Symphony; an opera evening with Brott's New West Symphony of California and THE EMPEROR OF ATLANTIS for Boston Lyric Opera.

"As Florestan, John Mac Master immediately established his presence and credentials with a thrillingly open sound, and the tessitura of his hallucinatory aria seemingly held no fears for him."
Edward Seckerson – The Independent (London)

In 2009-2010, he was in Rotterdam as Florestan in FIDELIO with Gergiev, in Dallas for Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and in Italy, France and Germany for concert performances of TRISTAN UND ISOLDE with Daniel Harding and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Mahler's Symphony No. 8 claimed his attention in Vancouver conducted by Tovey, followed by THE DREAM OF GERONTIUS with the Grand Philharmonic Choir, performances and a recording of EURYANTHE at Warsaw's Beethoven Festival and the title role in OTELLO for Edmonton Opera. Later in the season he was heard at Ottawa's National Arts Centre and in Montréal at Place des Arts with Nézet-Séguin in Mahler's Symphony No. 8 and in Verdi's REQUIEM for Orchestre Symphonique de Québec.

Mr. Mac Master’s 2008-2009 season began with OTELLO for Kentucky Opera, followed by Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for the Seattle Symphony (Gerard Schwartz) and Orchestra London Ontario (Mario Bernardi). Yannick Nézet-Séguin conducted him in DAS LIED VON DER ERDE with Orchestre Métropolitain du Grand Montréal and he sang Herodes in SALOME with Vancouver Opera. In Las Palmas for Albeniz' HENRY CLIFFORD, he was Bacchus in ARIADNE AUF NAXOS for Australia's Victorian Opera and tenor soloist in Elgar’s DREAM OF GERONTIUS for Carlos Kalmar and the Grant Park Festival in Chicago.

During the 2007-2008 season, the New Brunswick born tenor sang excerpts from GÖTTERDÄMMERUNG with Sir Charles Mackerras and the Gewandhaus Orchestra in Leipzig and he debuted with Orquestra Sinfonica de Barcelona and Eiji Oue in Schönberg’s GURRELIEDER. For Opéra de Québec, Mac Master made his role debut in OTELLO and returned to one of his greatest triumphs, Canio in PAGLIACCI, for Vancouver Opera and sang Verdi’s REQUIEM for the Kansas City Symphony.

"John Mac Master's Canio dominated all. He clearly showed how this man could hide his personal feelings in public, only to open the floodgates at the crucial points in the drama.
His heartbreak over losing his Nedda, in the deeply felt, powerfully sung rendition of 'Vesti la giubba' was complete. The famous aria became part of a natural progression in his undoing, not just a famous highlight."
Christopher Darling, Opera Canada, March 2008

In 2004 –2005, he debuted for Opera Australia (Sydney) as Cavaradossi in TOSCA and also appeared there as the Prince in Francesca Zambello’s production of LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES. Both these productions were conducted by Opera Australia’s music director, Richard Hickox, and the Prokofiev work was recorded by Chandos. He created the role of Casey in the World Premiere of MARGARET GARNER for Michigan Opera Theater in Detroit, with subsequent performances of this new opera in Philadelphia.

The tri-lingual tenor’s past seasons have included his debut in London and Birmingham with London’s Philharmonia Orchestra in the GLAGOLITIC MASS conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, Max in DER FREISCHÜTZ for Festival Vancouver, Erik in DER FLIEGENDE HOLLÄNDER for Vancouver Opera and a New Year’s Eve Opera Gala at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with the London Philharmonic. Further credits include Calaf in TURANDOT for l’Opéra de Québec, Canio in PAGLIACCI with Opera Pacific (California), Manrico in IL TROVATORE for Orchestra London, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Toronto Symphony, Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Singapore Symphony and a staged presentation of Verdi’s REQUIEM at Ottawa's National Arts Centre (Mario Bernardi). He was at L’Opéra de Montréal for Canio in PAGLIACCI and has appeared for the Canadian Opera Company as Laca in JENUFA and Aegisth in ELEKTRA.

In addition to his acclaimed debut at Glimmerglass as Canio, Mr. Mac Master has been hailed in Detroit and Montreal for his searing PETER GRIMES while at the Volksoper in Vienna, he starred as Hoffegut in Braunfels’ DIE VÖGEL, Grigory in BORIS GODUNOV, Pollione in NORMA and the title role in Offenbach's RITTER BLAUBART. He sang Manrico in IL TROVATORE for Ottawa's Opera Lyra and has also been featured at Paris’ Opera Bastille and New York City Opera.

"Florestan was the Canadian tenor John Mac Master, outstanding in control and lyricism. Few tenors manage this role without audible strain. He is one."
Fiona Maddocks – Evening Standard (London)

His debut at the Frankfurt and Stuttgart operas came as Herodes in SALOME, one of his previous assignments at the San Francisco Opera where he was also featured as Aegisth in ELEKTRA. He debuted in Innsbruck as the Beast/Liar in Langgaard's ANTICHRIST and other roles in his repertoire are Don José, Arnold (GUILLAUME TELL) and Turiddu. As a concert artist, he was in Winnipeg for Mahler’s DAS LIED VON DER ERDE and in Edmonton for Mahler’s Symphony No. 8.

As resident artist with New York's AmorArtis Orchestra and Choir, Mac Master appeared in Verdi’s REQUIEM, Britten's WAR REQUIEM, Berlioz' L'ENFANCE DU CHRIST and Rossini's STABAT MATER, Bruckner’s TE DEUM, the American premiere of Donizetti's MISERERE and the Saint-Saëns' REQUIEM. In Europe he sang with the Brno State Philharmonic as Handel's JUDAS MACCABAEUS in Poland, Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Mr. Mac Master has also appeared with the Windsor Symphony, the Fairfield County Chorale of Connecticut, in Stadt Vilach, Austria and Stavanger, Norway.

Further credits include appearances at the Shaw Festival and on Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage. A Canadian citizen with U.S. Permanent Resident Status, he was featured in PHANTOM OF THE OPERA as Ubaldo Piangi, both on Broadway and in Toronto. In addition to Beethoven's FIDELIO and Ninth Symphony, his recordings include Prokofiev’s THE LOVE FOR THREE ORANGES on the Chandos label, Langgaard's ANTICHRIST for Danachord, Handel's BERENICE with Rudolph Palmer and the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra (Newport Classics) and Saint-Saëns' REQUIEM with Somary conducting the AmorArtis Orchestra for Premier Records.

Beyond all these performances, Mac Master is a frequent competition adjudicator and teacher of master classes for universities and young artist programs. In August 2016 he joined the Schulich School of Music at McGill University (one of his alma maters) as Assistant Professor. In recent seasons Mac Master has also added concert presentations to his schedule - evenings of Italian Operatic Arias with the Colorado Symphony and Windsor Symphony orchestras, and duet recital programmes with celebrated soprano Sally Dibblee and pianist Julien LeBlanc, New Brunswick natives, all.

August 2016