Kirsten MacKinnon

Winner: Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions 2017

Grant holder: Jacqueline Desmarais Foundation for Young Canadian Opera Singers

© Barbara Aumüller


Hailed by Opera UK as a “heroine whose poise, expressive singing, excellent vocalism, and dark and full tone auger well for a healthy career ahead”, the exciting young Canadian soprano Kirsten MacKinnon has captured the attention of audiences across North America and Europe.

Recent highlights include returns to Canadian Opera Company and Glyndebourne as Fiordiligi Così fan tutte; her Frankfurt Opera debut as Inès L’Africaine, described by Heute Musik as “dreamlike”, where she later returned for the Countess Capriccio, Micaëla Carmen, the Countess Le nozze di Figaro and Hanna Glawari The Merry Widow; Micaëla at Opera Philadelphia and Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Aix-en-Provence Festival on tour to Beijing, Beethoven’s Symphony no. 9 with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Pamina Die Zauberflöte for Canadian Opera Company and Countess Le nozze di Figaro for Garsington Opera.

Future seasons will see Kirsten debut with Opéra de Montréal and return to the Canadian Opera Company.


  • More info  
    14 Feb 19 MOZART Cosi fan tutte (Fiordiligi)
    Canadian Opera Company

    “The subjects of all this attention are sisters Fiordiligi (fabulously sung by soprano Kirsten MacKinnon) and Dorabella (Toronto mezzo Emily D’Angelo who acted as well as she sang), who are engaged to Guglielmo (baritone Johannes Kammler in great form) and Ferrando (tenor Ben Bliss at his lyric best).”
    John Terauds, The Star, 6 February 2019

    “Soprano Kirsten MacKinnon and mezzo Emily D’Angelo are the Fiordiligi and Dorabella of one’s dreams. How often do you find two singers who look like twins and sing like angels? This piece really needs young singers like the four we have here, with youthful energies aplenty. The sophomoric shenanigans they’re asked to do don’t seem forced with these young artists. Soprano MacKinnon, now an Oper Frankfurt “fest artist,” sang both “Come scoglio” and “Per pieta” with silvery tone.”
    Joseph So, Ludwig van Toronto, 6 February 2019


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    08 May 18 BIZET Carmen (Micaëla)
    Opera Philadelphia

    “But passion was not just where you expect to find it. Kirsten MacKinnon was a strong Micaëla. Although looking every inch the sweet white-gloved girl-next-door, she played a towering woman, with full coloratura, and a commanding presence. She was portrayed as a woman of passion in her own right.”
    Hilary Stroh, Bachtrack, 28 April 2018

    “As the lovelorn Micaëla, soprano Kirsten MacKinnon was perfection. Every inch of her interpretation was infused with wistful innocence, and she sang the role, which is more than a little thankless, as if it were written for her. The propriety of the 1950s suited Micaëla to a tee in this production.”, June 3 2018

    “Call it grit, pluck or whatever, Kirsten MacKinnon’s Micaëla had it… It took a while for her voice to settle, but once it did I fell in love with it. For me, her Act III aria was the emotional highpoint of the show. Judging from the audience’s response, I wasn’t alone there.”
    Rick Perdian, Seen and Heard, 7 May 2018


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    27 Feb 18 MEYERBEER L'Africaine
    Oper Frankfurt

    “Ines, aber mit frischem, erotischem Potenzial in der Stimme (Kirsten MacKinnon).”
    “Kirsten Mackinnon playing the role of Ines demonstrates a fresh and erotic potential in her voice.”
    Andreas Bomba, Frankfurter Neue Presse, 27 February 2018

    “Kirsten MacKinnon begeistert mit großer Dramatik. Besonders das Duett der beiden Frauen, wenn Selika beschließt, den Liebenden ziehen zu lassen und selbst den Freitod zu wählen, wird von MacKinnon und Mahnke in bewegender Intensität präsentiert.”
    “Kirsten MacKinnon thrilled with great drama. Especially the duet of the two women, when Selika decides to let the lovers go and even to commit suicide, is presented by MacKinnon and Mahnke with moving intensity.”
    Thomas Molkem Online Musik magazin, 26 February 2018 

    “Ein traumhaftes Deutschland-Debüt gab die kanadische Sopranistin Kirsten MacKinnon als Ines.”
    “The German soprano Kirsten MacKinnon debut in Germany as Ines was dreamlike.
    Musik Heute, 25 February 2018

    “Kirsten MacKinnon Elle se balance d’intervalle en intervalle avec agilité et légèreté sans perdre le soutien impétueux qui la caractérise.”
    “Kirsten MacKinnon swings between intervals with agility and lightness without losing the impetuous support that characterizes her.”
    Thibault Vicq, Opera Online, 25 February 2018

    “In her Oper Frankfurt debut as Inès, Canadian soprano Kirsten MacKinnon gave a lovely, enchanting sneak peak of what Frankfurt audiences can expect when she joins the Ensemble next season. She lent a wonderful strength to the fawning, stereotypical damsel-next-door Inès, and found femininity in the role without resorting to the usual hysterics of opera’s more typical romantic female leads. Inès is a tough character to play sympathetically – a Western woman who causes the hero to break his life-or-death vow with Queen Sélika – but MacKinnon struck the right chord.”
    Blanche Israel, Schmopera, 26 February 2018

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    09 Oct 17 MOZART Cosi fan tutte (Fiordiligi)

    “If there’s a vocal star in there, it’s Kirsten MacKinnon, who has the high notes and the low notes for Fiordiligi and everything in between.”
    Erica Jeal, The Guardian, 8 October 2017

    “A multinational cast look sexy, sing well and act beautifully, with Kirsten MacKinnon’s Fiordiligi just snatching the vocal honours.”
    Richard Morrison, The Times, 9 October 2017

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    05 Jun 17 MOZART Le Nozze di Figaro (Countess)
    Garsington Opera

    “Musical delights abound, including the burnished bass of Joshua Bloom and the honeyed soprano of Kirsten MacKinnon.”

    Inge Kjemtrup,, 5 June 2017

    “The nocturnal denouement, sparked by Alison Rose’s dainty Barbarina, and presided over by Kirsten MacKinnon’s regal Countess, has a sweet inevitability.”

    Michael Church, The Independent, 5 June 2017

    “The Canadian soprano Kirsten MacKinnon was making her UK debut in the role of the Countess, and it was an impressive one. She has just the right blend of aristocratic hauteur and gentle vulnerability to make her portrayal a convincing one, and she sang with assured grace and supple phrasing both in her arias and her duet with Susanna.”
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    29 Jan 17 MOZART Die Zauberflöte (Pamina)
    Canadian Opera Company

    “BC soprano Kirsten MacKinnon is a voice new to me. I find her Pamina sympathetic and beautifully sung, whether in the ensembles or in the silvery “Ach, ich fuhl’s.””
    Joseph So, Musical Toronto, 30 January 2017 

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    10 Dec 16 The Dallas Opera's Institute for Women Conductors Concert
    Winspear Opera House

    “Lyric tenor Jonas Hacker and soprano Kirsten MacKinnon were both impressive and would shine even brighter as the evening progressed.”
    Gregory Sullivan Isaacs, Theater Jones, 18 December 2016

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    02 Mar 16 R. STRAUSS Capriccio (Die Gräfin)
    Curtis Institute, Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts

    “Under the delightful stage direction of Chas Rader-Shieber, soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, as the indecisive Countess, leads a splendid cast with her clear pure vocals and expressive acting, capturing the emotions of her character and the lush beauty of Strauss’s Baroque-inspired score. Alone on stage for the introspective and bittersweet twenty-minute “Final Scene,” she masterfully conveys Strauss’s fundamental conceit that “words sing and music speaks” and the “two merge into one” in opera.”
    Deb Miller, DC Metro Theatre Arts, 3 March 2016 

    “The heart of the opera is the Countess, a symbolic muse who must decide between two suitors – the composer and the poet. Her part was sung Wednesday by Kristen MacKinnon with an ideal middleweight Straussian vocal tone, wonderfully confiding pianissimos, and theatrical authority in a performance I’d take over Renée Fleming any day.”
    David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, 3 March 2016 

    “But the opera belongs to the Countess, and Kirsten MacKinnon is a major discovery — her lovely lyric soprano, touched with the silvery, springlike quality Strauss loved, projects easily, and her elegant sense of line and lovely stage presence suit the patrician Countess.”
    David Fox, 3 March 2016

    “The countess was played by the 25-year-old Kirsten MacKinnon. This was a sexually-charged interpretation, and the grabbing and kissing worked wonderfully. Previous productions always seemed like intellectual discourses but this was an exciting drama played on two levels at the same time. Of all the performances I’ve seen of Capriccio, this was the most compelling.”
    Steve Cohen, Opera Critic, March 2016 

    “Kirsten MacKinnon sang beautifully as the Countess in a light, clear soprano, comporting herself with elegant bearing and charm. Her prospective suitors seemed unfairly matched.”
    Eric Myers, Opera News, July 2016

    “Soprano Kirsten MacKinnon, as the indecisive Countess, gave a splendid performance with her clear pure vocals and expressive acting, capturing the emotions of her character and the lush beauty of Richard Strauss’s Baroque-inspired score. Alone on stage for the introspective twenty-minute “Final Scene,” she masterfully conveyed the composer’s fundamental conceit that “words sing and music speaks” and the “two merge into one” in opera.”
    Deb Miller, DC Metro Theater Arts, 31 August 2017 

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    24 Jul 15 TCHAIKOVSKY Iolanta (title role)
    Curtis Opera Theater, Opera Philadelphia

    “The heroine was Kirsten MacKinnon, whose poise, expressive phrasing and excellent vocalism – a darker, fuller sound than usually heard in this part recently – augur well for a healthy career ahead”
    David Shengold, Opera Mazagine

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    12 Apr 15 GOUNOD Faust 'Jewel Song'
    Zankel Hall, New York

    Gerda Lissner Foundation International Vocal Competition 2015

    “Kirsten MacKinnon gave us a sprightly “Jewel Song” from Gounod’s Faust. Her sparkling soprano evoked waves dancing in the sunlight as she saucily negotiated the coloratura terrain of an innocent beguiled by jewels, making her an impressive Marguerite.”
    Nino Pantano, Brooklyn Daily Eagle 

    “Soprano Kirsten Mackinnon filled the air with chills and thrills as she performed the “Jewel Song” from Gounod’s Faust.  Her French diction was excellent, even at the top.”
    Meche Kroop, Voce di meche 

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    04 Mar 15 STRAUSS Ariadne auf Naxos
    Opera Philadelphia

    “Among the voices heard mostly in harmony, Kirsten MacKinnon’s stood out for its purity and expressiveness.”
    Neal Zoren,, 6 March 2015 

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    01 May 10 VERDI Traviata (Arias)
    Philadelphia Opera

    Pre-Production Lecture Concert

    “Kirsten MacKinnon and Christopher Tiesi were both stunningly good yesterday singing Verdi arias, as you would expect”, 1 May 2010 



La Sonnambula (Lisa)

Carmen (Micaela)

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Helena)

Cunning Little Vixen (Fox)

L’Africaine (Ines)

The Medium (Mrs Gobineau)

Die Zauberflöte (Pamina)
Così fan Tutte (Fiordiligi)
Idomeneo (Elettra)
Le nozze di Figaro (Contessa Almaviva)

Gianni Schicchi (Ciesca; Nella)
La bohème (Mimi, Musetta)

The Thirteenth Child (Lyra) *

Ariadne auf Naxos (Echo)
Capriccio (Countess Madeleine)
Elektra (Fifth Maid)

Iolanta (Iolanta)

La traviata (Annina)


Symphony No. 9