John Mac Master



John Mac Master


Canadian Citizenship

“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 enjoyed a career at the highest international level performing dramatic tenor repertoire. Performances and recording projects include 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 Dresden’s Semper Oper as Calaf in Turandot conducted by Fabio Luisi. Mr. Mac Master’s acclaimed Metropolitan Opera début 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 schedule has 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 has repeated a number of his signature roles including Florestan in Fidelio for Edmonton Opera, and Herodes in Salome with the Philadelphia Orchestra and the New Orleans Opera. On the concert stage he was featured in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Toronto Symphony, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Seattle Symphony, Symphony Nova Scotia, the Colorado Symphony and the Victoria Symphony. He was heard in Verdi’s Requiem for the Vail Valley Festival in Colorado (Philadelphia Orchestra and Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain (both conducted by Nezet-Seguin) and the Laval Symphony, the title role in Otello for Calgary Opera, Dead Man Walking and Aegisth in Elektra for l’Opéra de Montréal.

Highlights of past seasons included 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, The Emperor of Atlantis for Boston Lyric Opera, Florestan in Fidelio in Rotterdam with Gergiev, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 in Dallas 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. 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.

Among Mr. Mac Master’s many credits are Otello for Kentucky Opera, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 for the Seattle Symphony and Orchestra London Ontario. 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.

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 sang Otello, returned to one of his greatest triumphs, Canio in Pagliacci, for Vancouver Opera and sang Verdi’s Requiem for the Kansas City Symphony.

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, later 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 also included his debut in London and Birmingham in the Glagolitic Mass conducted by Sir Charles Mackerras, 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 (Turandot) for l’Opéra de Québec, Canio (Pagliacci) with Opera Pacific (California), Manrico in Il trovatore for Orchestra London, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Toronto Symphony and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with the Singapore Symphony and a staged presentation of Verdi’s Requiem at Ottawa’s National Arts Centre. 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.

Mr. Mac Master has been hailed in Detroit and Montreal for his searing Peter Grimes, and 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. 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 include Don Jose 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.

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. Other credits include appearances at the Shaw Festival and on Winnipeg’s Rainbow Stage. 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 on LSO Live, and Euryanthe with the Polish Radio Orchestra, his recordings include Prokofiev’s 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 for Premier Records.

Mr. Mac Master is Assistant Professor in Vocal Studies at Montreal’s McGill University and recent performances include the role of Fabius in the World Premiere of Rufus Wainwright’s Hadrian for the Canadian Opera Company and Carmina Burana for the Ottawa Choral Society. 

September 2019


Albeniz Henry Clifford HENRY CLIFFORD
Beethoven Florestan FIDELIO
Bellini Pollione NORMA
Braunfels Hoffegut DIE VÖGEL
Britten Peter Grimes PETER GRIMES
Danielpour Casey MARGARET GARNER
Heggie Ahab MOBY-DICK
Janáček Laca JENUFA
Langgaard Das Tier/Die Lüge ANTICHRIST
Leoncavallo Canio PAGLIACCI
Mussorgsky Grigory BORIS GODUNOV
Offenbach Bluebeard BARBE-BLEUE
Puccini Calaf
Sondheim Beadle SWEENEY TODD
Strauss, R. Aegisth
Italian Tenor
Verdi Carlo
Wagner Erik
Walter von der Vogelweide



Beethoven Choral Fantasia
Symphony No. 9
Berlioz L’Enfance du Christ (Le Récitant)
Britten War Requiem
Choral Dances (Gloriana)
St. Nicolas
Bruckner Te Deum
Donizetti Miserere (USA Premiere)
Dvorák Stabat Mater
Elgar Dream of Gerontius
Finzi Farewell to Arms
Handel Judas Maccabaeus
Janácek Glagolitic Mass
Mahler Symphony No. 8
Das Lied Von Der Erde
Orff Carmina Burana
Rossini Stabat Mater
Saint-Saëns Christmas Oratorio
Schubert Mass in G Major
Schumann Requiem
Verdi Requiem
Vaughan Williams Hodie

“Parmi les solistes, c’est John Mac Master, le ténor, qui avait le plus de moyens. A contrario, il maîtrise difficilement l’émission en demi-teinte, ce qui a porté préjudice à l’Hostias.” [Orchestre symphonique de Laval, Verdi Requiem]
Le Devoir, Christopher Huss

“…tenor John Mac Master, whose intelligent singing and fearless navigation of the upper registers of his voice made Herod a comic and yet pathetic figure.”
Opera Review, Paul Pelkonen

“Fine work, too, from John Mac Master (Herod).”
Philadelphia City Paper, Anthony Fox

 “As Herod, John Mac Master made his extended rants an advantage rather than a trial.”
Philadelphia Enquirer, David Patrick Stearns

“Tenor John Mac Master commanded the stage with his Otello and was in fine form and full voice all nightas the driven general who falls under the green-eyed monster of jealousy at the hands of an evil Iago”
Calgary Herald, Stephan Bonfield [Calgary Opera]

 “Prime focus, of course, fell on veteran Canadian tenor John Mac master’s Canio. Mac Master has built a good chunk of his reputation as the doomed clown who can only watch as Nedda spurns him for Silvio. It was not easy to watch this Canio unravel, descending into the madness of unchecked jealousy and rage. Mac Master, at the same time, was impossible not to watch. He was no mere bumbling fool. Instead, caught amid uncontrollable forces of human nature, he disintegrated. His Vesti la giubba, that tenor aria-of-arias, was refreshingly free of sobbing attacks and excessive, swooping portamento. It was a declaration of utter, resigned wretchedness — and the capstone to a triumphant opening night.”
Louisville Courier Journal, Andrew Adler

“Mr. Mac Master rescues the role from Wagnerian thickness (FIDELIO). The sound is clear, with the svelteness of a Verdi tenor but steadfast under pressure. As Beethoven’s second act builds …to the climactic call for freedom, Mr. Mac Master and Mr. Davis ride the music gloriously.”
The New York Times, Bernard Holland

“Of the vocalists, tenor John Mac master was easily the standout.” [Mahler No. 8, conducted by Nézet-Séguin], Paul Wells

“John Mac Master, singing the demanding title role for the first time, gave us a clarion shout of “Esultate!” at the start and warmly rounded pleas for a kiss in the love duet with Desdemona. His is a rugged tenor and emotional style, both suited to verismo. His acting also was powerful. Was that walking stick a symbol of authority or weakness? Perhaps both. But there was no ambiguity in the sorrow we felt for him at the end.” (OTELLO)
The Gazette,– Arthur Kaptainis

“The voice of John Mac Master fills the hall with a sound that leaps immediately to the ear. The performance of the Canadian tenor in the title role, becomes more attractive and takes on ever greater and more convincing amplitude, scope and range as the work unfolds, to finally crown a production which is very vocally satisfying.”
Le Soleil, Richard Boisvert

“As provocative as the staging (PAGLIACCI – Glimmerglass Opera) was, the real news here 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.”
New York Times, Allan Kozinn

“FIDELIO is often let down by the Florestan but not in this case where the Canadian tenor John Mac Master brings an almost Vickers-like intensity and lyricism to his first aria and joins ecstatically with Christine Brewer in their duet after she has saved him.”
Sunday Telegraph

“As Eric, the huntsman in love with Senta—John Mac Master made a major impact on his time in the story by singing ardently with a lucid, fluent style that rose to the high notes effortlessly, piercing them through the heart.”
The Vancouver Sun, Lloyd Dykk

“John Mac Master est un Cannio terrifiant…La voix est puissante et portée par un vrai musicien, un grand acteur surtout.”
La Presse (Montreal), Claude Gingras

“John Mac Master made his Met debut as the most riveting Met Canio (PAGLIACCI) in recent memory. Sung unstintingly and acted with a fierce commitment, Mac Master’s tragic clown matched Urmana’s SANTUZZA (CAVALLERIA RUSTICANA) in musicianship and dignity. Mac Master brought a career’s stage savvy to both the opera itself and the commedia within it.”
Opera Canada

“John Mac Master, as the initially melancholic subsequently mock-heroic Prince,sings the major role triumphantly with soaring power and firmness from a persona of self-mocking absurdity.”
The Sydney Morning Herald, Peter McCallum

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

“John Mac Master est un artiste immense. Parlons plutôt de sa presence, de son naturel, de son assurance et de la réelle majesté de son timbre. Parlons d’un tenor qui ne s’écoute pas faire ses aigus, mais entre à fond dedans, sans la moindre hesitation.”
Le Soleil, Richard Boisvert

“…as Floristan, John Mac Master immediately established his presence and credentials with a thrillingly open sound…the hallucinatory aria seemingly held no fears for him.”
The Independent, Edward Seckerson

“As the Prince, John Mac Master varies his tone superbly, evolving from a whiny, self-pitying hypochondriac into a mock-heroic ardent lover.”
The Australian, Murray Black

“John Mac Master played Canio (PAGLIACCI) with such vocal dynamism and theatrical verisimilitude that we felt integrated with the Sicilians watching him in the square…the comic spectacle dissolved into real tragedy. The great aria made famous by Caruso throbbed but did not sob.   As he demonstrated last season in the title role of Britten’s PETER GRIMES, Mac Master has a knack for projecting brooding darkness without recourse to camp. He exploded believably into violence at the end.”
The Gazette (Montreal), Arthur Kaptainis

“Canadian tenor John Mac Master was an outstanding Grimes. He sang his demanding part very expressively, not only with great strength and fine top notes, sometimes with touching lyrical qualities. Moreover, he acted the awkward character most convincingly.”
The Gazette (Montreal), Ilse Zadrozn

“Vocally, the big surprise here is the sensitively and heroically sung Florestan of the Canadian tenor John Mac Master, hardly a household name, but he has plenty of Heldentenor-ish heft for his despairing outburst ‘Gott, welch Dunkel hier’ and unexpected delicacy in the fast section of his aria beginning ‘Und spur ich nicht linde, saüfselnde luƒt’ (Do I not feel a gentle, soft-blowing breeze?), while he and Brewer negotiate the small notes of their ecstatic duet, ‘O, namen, namenlose Freude’ with aplomb, even at Davis’s fastish tempo.”
Record Review, Hugh Corning