Canadian baritone Iain MacNeil joined the Oper Frankfurt Ensemble in 2019. He was hailed as a “World Star” (HR-2 Kultur) for his recent interpretation of the Prince in Tchaikovsky’s The Enchantress at Oper Frankfurt, where critics said he “embodies the figure of the dark and faithless prince with great vocal authority” (Kulturfreak) and “shines alongside Grigorian and Mahnke” (The Opera Magazine). In June he premiered the title role in Dallapiccola’s Ulisse at Oper Frankfurt “with intense performance and vocal strength. At the same time, his voice is flexible. It sounds effortless and sonorous” (Kulrturfreak). His performance won him several nominations for Singer of the Year in Germany’s Opernwelt, as well as several more for Young Artist of the Year. Critics wrote that his Odysseus “holds everything together with a wonderfully bronze-saturated baritone that exudes an almost tenorial warmth in the high notes…(He) not only conveys his character’s self-exegesis with striking text clarity, but also vocally ties it to flawless legato slurs” (Süddeutsche Zeitung), and “The robust, metallic timbre suited the doubting but indestructible hero and was also complemented by exemplary diction” (Concerti). MacNeil was nominated for Opernwelt’s Young Artist of the Year for his 2021 realization of Spielmann in Königskinder at the Tiroler Festspiele Erl, where critics said he “shone as a minstrel with his narrative, very song-like performance” (The Opera Magazine), and “makes the minstrel (Spielmann) the main character of the evening with his great commitment…His acrobatic performances, such as jumping from a standing position onto the fridge, are impressive” (Opera Online). He reprised the role of Spielmann at Oper Frankfurt in the Fall of 2021, where critics said he “gave a picture of unwavering optimism… With an infectiously cheerful role design and a powerful, rich baritone voice, he was convincing both scenically and vocally throughout and created a final song for the royal children that stabbed straight to the heart” (Bachtrack). Some highlights from his tenure at Oper Frankfurt include: Melot (Tristan und Isolde), Lord Tristan Mickleford (Flotow’s Martha), Marullo (Rigoletto), the Chief of Police (Lady Macbeth von Mzensk), Olivier (Capriccio), Werschinin (Eötvös’ Tri sestry), Tadeusz (Weinberg’s Die Passagierin), 4 roles in Martinů’s Julietta, and the title role in Mozart’s Figaro.
In June 2017, he debuted the title role in Don Giovanni with Saskatoon Opera, demonstrating a “blend of subtle machismo and an almost palpable self-assuredness” (The Star Phoenix). MacNeil was hailed as “a master” by The Calgary Herald in the role of Tarquinius in The Rape of Lucretia with the Banff Centre in 2016: “His is a voice so sure of itself you can trust it do exactly what it is supposed to do”. His “virile and smooth baritone” was praised in his performance of Canadian composer John Greer’s arrangement of the Songs of Travel for piano quintet for its “uncommon beauty of tone and heartfelt expression” (Musical Toronto).
With the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio, he performed the title role in The Marriage of Figaro with “clear and piercing tone” (Schmopera) in 2016, following a “remarkable … totally convincing” (La Scena Musicale) Doctor Bartolo in the previous season’s The Barber of Seville. MacNeil was a member of the Canadian Opera Company Ensemble Studio from 2014 to 2016 after studying for a year at the University of Toronto Opera School.
Previously, he participated in the Young Singers Project with the Salzburg Festival, after graduating from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Music degree. In his 2012 performance of the title role in Sweeney Todd, critics said he “…doesn’t miss a beat, and that, as they say, is performance” (The Chronicle Herald), and “his voice and diction were excellent and he easily portrayed the conflicted anti-hero” (Opera Canada).
Other opera performance highlights include: Figaro (The Marriage of Figaro) with Vancouver Opera; Le Dancaïre (Carmen), Marchese d’Obigny (La traviata), Fiorello (The Barber of Seville), and the Imperial Commissioner (Madama Butterfly) with the Canadian Opera Company; Guglielmo (Così fan tutte) and Figaro (Le nozze di Figaro) with the Centre for Opera Studies in Italy; Sid (Albert Herring) with the U of T Opera School; and Tancredi (Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda) at the International Barrocktage Stift Melk in Austria. In May of 2014, MacNeil represented the Canadian Opera Company in the Stella Maris International Voice Competition.
MacNeil has been recognized with numerous scholarships and prizes. In 2018 he was a semi-finalist in the Queen Elisabeth Competition in Brussels, Belgium; in 2017 he was a semi-finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Awards; in 2014 he was the male prize recipient of the Emmerich Smola Förderpreis in Landau, Germany; and in 2013 he was a winner of the Canadian Opera Company Centre Stage Competition.
MacNeil joined the Frankfurt Opera Studio in September of the 2017/2018 season. In the spring of 2023 he can be seen on the Oper Frankfurt stage as Kajin in Die Erste Menschen under the baton of Sebastian Weigle.