PHOTOS MARTIN U.K. LENGEMANN
A once aspiring cellist, the Irish soprano Fionnuala McCarthy had originally intended to persue an orchestra career. After completing her Bachelor of Music and her Performer’s Diploma in Cello, Piano and Voice at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, she had a change of mind, however, and opted for singing instead. A scholarship enabled her to continue her vocal studies abroad at the Music Conservatory in Detmold, Germany with Professor Helmut Kretschmar.
While studying in Detmold, she rapidly secured a contract with the Nationaltheater Mannheim, where she remained for two years before committing to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf. It was here she lay down the foundations of the lyric repertoire, singing the roles of Pamina, Gretel, Frau Fluth, Mimi, Ilia, Antonia, Alice, Poppea, Liu and Violetta.
After a guest contract in 1993 at the Komische Oper Berlin, portraying the roles of Suor Angelica and Nedda, she was contracted by the Deutsche Oper Berlin, a member of whose ensemble she has remained since 1994.
During the course of her career, Fionnuala has acquired a broad and diverse repertoire: Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette (at the Deutsche Oper Berlin with Francisco Araiza), at a later stage in Harry Kupfer’s production at the Komische Oper, Susanna in Le Nozze di Figaro, Marzelline in Fidelio, Ighino in Palestrina, the soprano parts in Bach’s Saint Matthew Passion and Carmina Burana, both in staged versions by Götz Friedrich, Manon (Massenet), Blanche in Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites and the Vixen in Janacék’s The Cunning Little Vixen in Katharina Thalbach’s much acclaimed spectacle.
Other roles such as Sophie in Rosenkavalier and Werther, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Musetta in La Bohème, Sdenka in Arabella, Pamina / 1st Lady in the Magic Flute, Contessa in Le Nozze di Figaro and Alice in Falstaff have further enhanced and extended her repertoire.
Fionnuala has participated in many international festivals, e.g. in Schwetzingen with the world premiere of the opera Sansibar by Eckehard Mayer. In 1997 she sang Sandrina in Mozart’s La Finta Giardiniera at the „Festival de Radio France et Montpellier“. During the „Hamburger Opernwoche“ she interpreted Micaela in Carmen with Agnes Baltsa and Neil Shicoff. In Vienna 1997 she took part in the Festival „Schloss Schönbrunn“ as Pamina in the Magic Flute. The latter role in the same year marked her debut at the Vienna State Opera.
Between 2006 -2008, Fionnuala was contracted by the Bayreuther Festspiele to sing Woglinde in Rheingold and Götterdämmerung in a production of Wagner’s Ring des Nibelungen under the musical direction of Christian Thielemann. A CD-recording of this production was released in 2009.
The soprano has made many guest appearances in international opera houses. In Vienna at the Volksoper she was Eva in a production of Wagner’s Die Meistersinger von Nuremberg, directed by Christine Mielitz . She subsequently performed the same role in La Monnaie in Brussels and in Antwerp.
At Le Grand Théatre de Genève she accomplished her first Fiordiligi under the musical direction of Phillippe Jordan, later she sang the role at the Dresdner Semperoper.
Fionnuala is an established concert singer, her repertoire spanning works such as Bach’s St. John and St. Matthew Passions, Mendelssohn’s Elias and Paulus, Verdi’s Requiem, Schumann’s Paradise and the Peri, Beethoven Symphony No. 9 and Mahler Symphony No.2.
At the Ruhr. 2010 festival she sang Richard Strauss’ Vier Letzte Lieder.
In 2009 her CD-recording of Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem in a version for piano and timpani was released by Glor Classics.
Also released by Glor Classics in 2011 is her recording of Strawinsky’s Les Noces, conducted by Sylvain Cambreling.
Her latest LP-CD recording was released in May 2011 by ACOUSENCE records, together with the Horenstein Ensemble, featuring 3 songs by Vaughan Williams entitled Merciless Beauty.