Born in Lancashire of Irish descent, Kathleen Wilkinson studied at the Royal Northern College of Music, where she won a Peter Moores Foundation Scholarship and the Webster Booth Competition. She made her debut at the Royal Opera, London, as She-Ancient The Midsummer Marriage, and has returned as Anna Maria Stuarda, Brigitta Die tote Stadt, Third Maid Elektra, Mother Goose The Rake's Progress and Filippyevna Eugene Onegin.
Other UK engagements have included Mrs Herring Albert Herring and Mistress Quickly Falstaff for Glyndebourne On Tour, Ursule Béatrice et Bénédict with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Geneviève Pelléas et Mélisande, Herdswoman Jenufa and Filippyevna Eugene Onegin for Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Herdswoman Jenufa, Cleaning Lady The Makropulos Case and Mamma Lucia Cavalleria Rusticana for English National Opera, Mère Jeanne Dialogues des Carmélites and Filipyevna Eugene Onegin for Grange Park Opera and Filippyevna Eugene Onegin for Welsh National Opera.
For Scottish Opera she created the roles of Margaret Muir Friend of the People and Mary Lamb Monster and has sung Nurse / Old Woman Inés de Castro, First Norn Götterdämmerung, Erda Das Rheingold and Schwertleite Die Walküre.
European engagements have included Nurse / Old Woman Inés de Castro at the Teatro Coliseo, Porto, Auntie Peter Grimes, Grandmother Burya Jenufa, La Ciesca Gianni Schicchi, Mistress of the Novices Suor Angelica andLady in Waiting Macbeth for the Opéra de Lyon, Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro and Mistress Quickly Falstaffat the Opéra de Rennes, Marcellina Le nozze di Figaro at Flanders Opera, Mistress Quickly at the Angers Nantes Opera and Erda Das Rheingold at the Sopot International Wagner Festival, as well as concerts at the Puccini Festival at Torre del Lago.
Kathleen Wilkinson’s recordings include Katya Kabanova and The Makropulos Case for Chandos CD and Eugene Onegin for Opus Arte DVD / Blu Ray. Conductors she has worked with include Thomas Adès, Sir Richard Armstrong, Bertrand de Billy, Sir Mark Elder, Richard Farnes, Edward Gardner, Richard Hickox, Vladimir Jurowski, Kirill Karabits, Jan Latham-Koenig, Lothar Koenigs, Sir Charles Mackerras, James MacMillan, Paul McCreesh, Ingo Metzmacher, Kazushi Ono, Carlo Rizzi and Robin Ticciati.
She sings regularly in concert, her repertoire including Beethoven Symphony No. 9, Dvorak Requiem and Stabat Mater, Elgar Sea Pictures, Mendelssohn Elijah, Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle and Requiem and Verdi Requiem. She was also featured soloist at Last Night of the Hallé Proms.
She recently sang Filippyevna Eugene Onegin for Garsington Opera at Wormsley, and engagements during 2016 / 2017 include Mrs Herring Albert Herring for The Grange Festival and Mother Goose The Rake’s Progress in at the Théâtre de Caen, the Opéra de Limoges, the Grand Théâtre de Luxembourg, the Opéra de Reims and the Opéra de Rouen.
Engagements during 2017 / 2018 include returns to English National Opera to create Marnie’s Mother in Nico Muhly’s Marnie and to the Royal Opera, London, as Giovanna Rigoletto.
Please note that this biography is not to be used for programmes. Current information is available on request.
Ursule: Béatrice et Bénédict / Scottish Chamber Orchestra
“Sally Matthews and Kathleen Wilkinson stole the show with the breathtakingly beautiful ”Vous soupirez Madame?” Their blended voices etched against the shadowy tapestry of the sound that Ticciati conjured. Just exquisite”
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s Ursule was a lovely thing.”
Mrs Herring: Albert Herring / Glyndebourne On Tour
“Kathleen Wilkinson was a suitably smothering Mrs Herring…”
Mrs Herring: Albert Herring / The Grange Festival
“Kathleen Wilkinson is trenchant as (Albert’s) overbearing mother…”
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s Mrs Herring sang eloquently whether scolding or despairing.”
Auntie: Peter Grimes / Opéra de Lyon
“The roles of the villagers were perfectly played, above all by Kathleen Wilkinson and Rosalind Plowright who were both perfect and without caricature as Auntie and Mrs Sedley.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson is a formidable Auntie.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s pungent Auntie.”
Cleaning Lady: The Makopoulos Case / English National Opera
“The Cleaning Lady was sumptuously sung by Kathleen Wilkinson.“
The Sunday Times
Brigitta: Die tote Stadt / Royal Opera, London
“There is a fine performance by Kathleen Wilkinson as Brigitta, Paul’s loyal housekeeper. Hers is a firm and powerful voice from a singer who, despite the brevity of the role, leaves a lasting impassion.”
The Daily Express
“Other major plaudits should go to Kathleen Wilkinson as Brigitta. The opening ten minutes of the opera were made by her presence and I applaud the Royal Opera House for employing this British singer in the role.”
“…although Brigitta is not a large part, Kathleen Wilkinson made it her own with her endearingly fussy solicitude.”
“British mezzo-soprano Kathleen Wilkinson was very impressive as Brigitta.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson captured both the caring and disapproving side of Paul’s housekeeper, Brigitta…”
“The best singing came from British mezzo Kathleen Wilkinson as Birgitta. Firm of tone, well modulated, gracefully phrased and with good diction.”
Nurse / Old Woman: Inés de Castro / Scottish Opera
“Kathleen Wilkinson reprised her original role magnificently, helping both Inés and later the King to shed their worldly outer garments before passing on.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson excelled in the role of the Nurse / Old Woman.”
Marcellina: Le nozze di Figaro / Opéra de Rennes
“Kathleen Wilkinson is an excellent Marcellina, forsaking caricature to create a very human character.”
Mère Jeanne: Dialogues des Carmélites / Grange Park Opera
“Of the other nuns, Kathleen Wilkinson stood out as a sympathetic Mère Jeanne…”
Mother Goose: The Rake’s Progress / Royal Opera, London
“Kathleen Wilkinson made Mother Goose a perfect study in raddled voluptuousness.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s strongly sung and characterised Mother Goose appeared well capable of running a brothel.”
Filippyevna: Eugene Onegin / Garsington Opera at Wormsley
“Kathleen Wilkinson's fruity mezzo made for a perfectly doughty Filippyevna…”
“Kathleen Wilkinson and Louise Winter broadened the respective roles of Filippyevna and Madame Larina into telling portraits…”
“Kathleen Wilkinson is an outstanding, full-voiced Filippyevna.”
The Critics’ Circle
“Kathleen Wilkinson makes the most of the spotlight as Filippyevna.”
“…a Filippyevna whose contralto timbre is pure old Russia.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson made the most of Filippyevna, her story told to her ‘dove’ about her early marriage and going to live amongst strangers, the moving interlude it ought to be.”
“…there was a touching Filippyevna from Kathleen Wilkinson.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson brought an amiable, earthy humour…”
Seen and Heard International
“Kathleen Wilkinson, a sympathetic Nurse…”
"We ache for aged nursemaid Filippyevna's arthritic joints as the excellent Kathleen Wilkinson lugs heavy chairs from room to room.”
What’s On Stage
Filipyevna: Eugene Onegin / Royal Opera, London
“Musically the evening has many fine qualities…with fine cameos from Diana Montague’s Larina and Kathleen Wilkinson’s Nurse”
“....excellent support from Kathleen Wilkinson, Diana Montague and Elena Maximova.”
“Diana Montague and Kathleen Wilkinson almost stole the show with their fine portrayals of Larina and Filipyevna, both richly sung”
Seen and Heard International
Mistress Quickly: Falstaff / Glyndebourne On Tour
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s Mistress Quickly was good fun.”
"Kathleen Wilkinson played a sturdy Mistress Quickly, sung in a strong, muscular mezzo."
“Its assets are several: notably Kathleen Wilkinson’s loveable battle-axe turn as Mistress Quickly.”
“Kathleen Wilkinson’s resinous Mistress Quickly has charm.”
Lady in Waiting” Macbeth / Opéra de Lyon
“(Kathleen Wilkinson), whose voice soars over the ensembles without difficulty.”
Janacek Katya Kabanova (role of Glasha)
Cheryl Barker, Jane Henschel, Victoria Simmonds, Robert Brubaker, Peter Hoare, Peter Wedd, Gwynne Howell
Welsh National Opera / Carlos Rizzi
Chandos CD CHAN 3145
Janacek The Makropulos Case (role of Cleaner)
Cheryl Barker, Elena Xanthoudakis, Robert Brubaker, Graham Clark,
John Graham-Hall, Thomas Walker, John Wegner
English National Opera / Sir Charles Mackerras
Chandos CD CHAN 3138
Tchaikovsky Eugene Onegin (role of Filipyevna)
Krassimira Stoyanova, Elena Maximova, Diana Montague, Pavol Breslik, Simon Keenlyside, Peter Rose
Royal Opera, London / Robin Ticciati
Opus Arte DVD OA 1067D / Blu Ray OABD 7100D