Australian born Kathryn McCusker studied for her Bachelor of Music Degree at the Western Australian Conservatorium of Music. She was awarded first prize in the 1991 National Finals of the ABC Young Performers Award and was a participant in the 1993 and 1995 Opera Foundation of Australia’s National Vocal Symposium with Master Tutors Dame Joan Sutherland, Madam Marlena Keleinman Malas and Signor Luigi Alva.
As a member of the Australian Opera’s 1992-1993 Young Artist’s Programme, Kathryn won the Remy Martin Australian Opera Award in 1994 which enabled her to further her studies in London and Europe.
Between 1994 and 1999 Kathryn McCusker was a principal soprano with Opera Australia. Her roles included Barbarina in Tim Albery’s Le nozze di Figaro, Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Drusilla in L’incoronazione di Poppea, Ilia in Idomeneo, Zerlina in Don Giovvani, Dircé in Médée, the Dew Fairy in Elijah Moshinsky’s production of Hansel and Gretal (commercial video release), A Wood-sprite in Rusalka, First lover in Il Tabarro, Suor Genovieffa in Suor Angelica, Lauretta in Gianni Schicchi, Marzelline in Fidelio, Oberto in Alcina, Servilia in La clemenza di Tito, Iphigénie in a new production of Iphigénie en Tauride and Susanna in John Copley’s production of Le nozze di Figaro.
Ms McCusker also had notable success performing the role of Tytania in the acclaimed new production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Strictly Ballroom and Moulin Rouge director Baz Luhrmann which was performed at the 1994 Edinburgh Festival. She has also performed the role of Romilda in Nicholas Hytner’s production of Xerxes for the Victoria State Opera and Mimi in a concert performance of La Bohéme. During her time in Australia, she has worked successfully with conductors such as Christopher Hogwood, Jane Glover, Richard Hickox, Roderick Brydon, Carlo Felice Cillario and Richard Bonynge.
Kathryn McCusker made a very successful European debut at the beginning of 2000 singing the role of Antonio in Opéra de Massy’s new production of Les Contes d’Hoffmann. In 1999 she won the Vienna State Opera award in Australia and as a result, spent four months in the 1999/2000 season working as a company principal with the Vienna State Opera, performing such roles as Countess Ceprano in Rigoletto. Ms McCusker covered the role of Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for Glyndebourne Festival Opera in the 2000 season and, at very short notice, sang the second performance to the delight of the conductor Sir Andrew Davis and a very enthusiastic music audience. In 2001 she had great success singing the role of Tirsi in Covent Garden Festival’s production of Handel’s Clori, Tirsi e Fileno.
At the beginning of the 2001/2 season Kathryn returned to Australia to perform the role of Countess in Le nozze di Figaro for the West Australian Opera. This performance was widely acclaimed and resulted in an invitation to return to Australia to sing the lead in a new opera “Rendezvous” by the Australian Composer Lindsay Vickery.
In the 2001/2 season she made her debut for English National Opera covering the role of Ginevra in their revival of Ariodante and had a great success when she went on to sing the role in the final performance. This resulted in an immediate re-invitation to work on a new opera by Ian Wilson for the ENO studio.
Other recent engagements have included Marie de Nostradame in Nostradamus for the West Australian Opera, Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni for Holland Park Opera and Ginevra in Ariodante for Freiburg Opera. In 2003 she had a great success performing Isotta in Strauss’s Die Schweigsame Frau for Garsington Opera and was immediately reinvited to perform Rosalia in Rossini’s L’Equivoco Stravagante for their 2004 season. Kathryn recently performed the role of Iphise in Rameau’s Dardanus for Pinchgut Opera, Sydney, which was record for the ABC.
As a concert artist Kathryn has appeared with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the West Australian Symphony Orchestra and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. In the UK, concert performances have included The Messiah in Swansea, Handel’s Belshazzar at the Dartington International Summer School and a tour of major UK concert venues performing Handel arias with the London Chamber Orchestra.
Kathryn has performed Handel’s Dixit Dominus and Vivaldi’s Magnificat in Bath Abbey and more recently was a soloist in the debut concert of The Australian Classical Era Orchestra, performing Mozart arias.
Kathryn McCusker is now resident in London.