McGahon, Colette

Mezzo-soprano Colette McGahon began her studies with Dr Veronica Dunne in DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama in Dublin before being awarded two Arts Council Scholarships enabling her to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the National Opera Studio in London. While in London she was a finalist in the Kathleen Ferrier Memorial competition and won the Miriam Licette Prize which enabled her to specialise in the study of French Song.

Her professional debut was in the Wexford Festival Opera production of Crispino e la Comare. Subsequent operatic roles include Ottavia in L'incoronazione di Poppea; Marcellina in Le nozze di Figaro; Kostelnicka in Jenufa; Mrs Grose in The Turn of the Screw; and the title role in Carmen, among others. In the course of her career Colette has worked with, among others, conductors Sir Simon Rattle, Bernard Haitink, Ivor Bolton and has been directed by Sir Peter Hall, Trevor Nunn and Richard Jones.

Roles created for her voice include The Dublin Operas of John Buckley, Raymond Deane and Marion Ingoldsby commissioned by Opera Theatre Company; James Wilson’s A Passionate Man; John Browne’s The Pied Piper of Hamelin; and Raymond Deane’s chamber opera The Wall of Cloud. 

Colette has appeared with Opera Ireland, Opera Northern Ireland, Opera Theatre Company, Glyndebourne Touring Opera, Opera 80, the festivals of Covent Garden, Buxton, Glyndebourne and Longborough and at the BBC Proms. She has given recitals in the Purcell Room and the Queen Elizabeth Hall, both on London’s South Bank, Hugh Lane Gallery, Bank of Ireland Arts Centre, National Concert Hall in Dublin, BT Studio at the Waterfront Hall in Belfast; and she has recorded C.V. Stanford’s Requiem on the Marco Polo label.

Colette McGahon’s recent opera seasons saw her make a highly acclaimed Wagnerian debut singing the role of Waltraute in Götterdämmerung for Longborough Festival Opera. She has since added Fricka in Das Rheingold and Die Walküre to her Wagnerian roles. Colette sang Waltraute with the National Youth Orchestra of Ireland in performances given in the University Concert Hall Limerick and Symphony Hall Birmingham, conducted by Alexander Annissimov. Recent performances include Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder in the Sunday @ Noon recital series at the Hugh Lane Gallery.

Colette is as a founder and Artistic Director of the award-winning Opera Collective Ireland (formerly Irish Youth Opera). The work of the company, which provides professional performance opportunities for emerging Irish artists in the early stages of their careers, has been received with enormous critical acclaim. Both IYO's productions to date , Britten's The Rape of Lucretia and Handel's Agrippina were nominated for Best Opera in the Irish Times Irish Theatre Awards while the 2015 production of Agrippina won Best Production in the Tiger Dublin Fringe Awards.

In the field of education Colette, a First Class Honours Masters graduate of Cork School of Music, is a Lecturer in Voice at DIT Conservatory of Music and Drama and is also much in demand as an adjudicator and examiner. She has been invited to give Masterclasses in Ireland, UK and France. With a growing international reputation, her students are now among the rising operatic stars on the international scene performing with major UK and European companies including among others the Royal Opera Covent Garden, Glyndebourne Festival, Scottish Opera, Welsh National Opera, Opera North,  Aix-en-Provence and La Scala Milan.