Hugh Mackey had his first formative artistic experiences in his native city, Belfast: in music, as a chorister in St. Anne’s Cathedral Choir, at the Belfast School of Music where he had his first singing lessons with Sam Denton, and in concert performances of the works of Bach and Britten; and in drama, acting in the plays of Shakespeare and Strindberg at school and touring the local Drama Festivals.
He gained a First in Drama and English at Manchester University, where he played Messenger in Euripides’ “Electra”; Sister Ann, the role created by Dan Leno, in the 1901 Pantomime “Bluebeard”; and Robespierre in Büchner’s “Danton’s Death”, and where he simultaneously sang in concerts in the music department and studied at the Manchester School of Music with John Grierson and Dame Isobel Baillie, the latter proving his mentor to further London study. A scholarship to continue studying with Arthur Reckless and on the Postgraduate Vocal Studies and Opera Course at the Guildhall of Music and Drama London followed, where he sang Theseus, Britten “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”; Pan, Offenbach “Daphnis et Chloe”, and played The Mute, Menotti: "The Medium", Barbican Opera/ Golden Theatre. There was further study at the European Opera School Belgium with Vera Rosza (performing Simeon, “L’Enfant Prodigue”) and at the National Opera Studio, where masterclasses there included those with Graziella Sciutti and Hans Hotter. He was then engaged by Opera North, Leeds, for Silvio, “I Pagliacci” and Germont “La Traviata”.
At the Britten Pears School, Aldeburgh, he attended master classes with, amongst others, Anna Reynolds, Gerhard Hüsch and Hugues Cuenod, and there were further formative masterclass experiences with, as well as the especial support of, Galina Vishnevskaya, and most particularly of Sir Peter Pears and Nancy Evans whose genuine goodwill and faith were demonstrable and for which he remains indebted. As a result, he made his main operatic debut as Robert, Duke of Burgundy, in a concert performance of Tchaikovsky’s "lolanta" at The Maltings, Snape, with Galina Vishnevskaya, and the English Chamber Orchestra conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich.
A recommendation for audition was also made to Elisabeth Schwarzkopf and then, at her behest, to Rolf Liebermann at the Hamburg State Opera. He was chosen then as one of the two Count Almavivas in the production conceived by Rolf Liebermann of Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro”, which took place during the Salzburger Festspiele, coached by Elisabeth Schwarzkopf, conducted by Gary Bertini and directed by Peter Ustinov.
A contract at the Hamburg State Opera followed and he made his debuts there in “Parsifal”, “Katya Kabanova”, and “Don Carlo”. In the same year Hugh was chosen to represent Northern Ireland in the BBC “Cardiff Singer of the World” competition.
Hugh Mackey has performed at the Wexford Festival ( Pietro in Donizetti’s “L’Assedio di Calais”, Don Florio in Balfe’s "The Rose of Castille", Grumio in Goetz’s "Der Wiederspenstigen Zahmung"); at the Camden Festival as Simone in Mozart’s “La Finta Semplice”; at the Birmingham Arena (Morales: Bizet: “Carmen” ); and he sang Jimmy in Weill’s "Die Dreigroschenoper" at the Montepulciano Festival, Italy, conducted by Jan Latham-Koenig and produced by Hans Werner Henze.
He also sang the role of Figaro in Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro” at the Théâtre du Capitole de Toulouse, in a production by Jean-Pierre Ponnelle, conducted by Yan Pascal Tortelier, as well as Villotto (Haydn, “La Vera Costanza”) for Opera Theatre Company, Dublin.
Throughout, Hugh has studied privately with Helga Mott, Otakar Kraus, Neil Howlett, Eduardo Asquez and Iris dell’Acqua.
He attended The Actors Centre, London.
His engagements have further included roles at the opera houses of Geneva and Nancy, and he has worked with the conductors Ferdinand Leitner, Gerard Schwarz, Roderick Brydon, Nicholas Cleobury, Evelino Pido, Stefan Soltesz, Hans Wallat, Klaus Peter Seibel, Claus-Ulrich Heinke, Peter Fanger, Seamus Crimmins, Jacques Delacote, Jonathan Darlington and Jean-Paul Penin and with the Orchestre National de France, the Prague Chamber Orchestra, the Riesaer Philharmoniker/Elbland Philharmonie Sachsen, Transylvania State Philharmonic Orchestra, the Collegium Musicum Dresden, the RTE Orchestra and RTE Chamber Orchestra, the Hamburg Philharmonic, the English Chamber Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra.
In Germany and Europe, Hugh has given numerous concert performances in oratorio and opera; song recitals; and many chamber concerts with the Zeller Quartett, Dresden and additional members of the Dresdner Philharmonie and the Sächsische Staatskapelle Dresden. He has performed and recorded for radio, television, CD, opera film and soundtrack.
His most recent engagements include:
A project of concert and stage performances in London and Edinburgh of William Blake’s “The Book of Thel” with La MaMa Umbria International / Three Bridges Theatre / Kingston University / La MaMa Experimental Theatre Group New York.
Music of the Night : A Concert : Bononcini, Gluck, Handel, Massenet, Lloyd Webber, Porter, Rodgers and Hammerstein.
Sopranos : Bethany Van Drie. Polly Misch.
Concert Coordinator : Bethany Van Drie.
Henry Wood Hall London. 3rd November 2021