A native of Dumbarton, Scotland, Bernard McDonald has worked with major opera companies in North America, Europe, and the Far East. International appearances have included engagements at the New National Theatre Tokyo, the Netherlands Opera, the Netherlands Radio Choir, the Dutch National Opera Academy in Amsterdam and The Hague, the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland in Glasgow, and productions of Carmen, La Bohème, Die Zauberflöte, and Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Kelowna in British Columbia.
Professional training at the San Francisco Opera Merola Program led directly to an invitation to join the music staff of the New York City Opera. He was subsequently Head of Music and Chorus Master at the Florida Grand Opera in Miami and at Glyndebourne, where he prepared over twenty-five productions to great critical acclaim for a host of internationally renowned conductors including Idomeneo with Sir Simon Rattle, Die Zauberflöte with Sir Charles Mackerras, and Otello with Vladimir Jurowski.
Maestro McDonald has conducted the US staged premiere of Montemezzi's L’incantesimo for Opera Theatre of Pittsburgh, where he also conducted productions of Gianni Schicchi and Le Nozze di Figaro. Upcoming engagements include La rondine at Mobile Opera, where he has also conducted La Bohème, Suor Angelica, Gianni Schicchi, Il tabarro, and Tosca. Additional appearances include work for the Aspen Music Festival, Indianapolis Symphonic Choir, the Central Iowa Symphony, and Bay View Music Festival.
He has worked as a vocal coach at the Manhattan School of Music, Indiana University Opera Theater, University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and Royal Conservatoire of Scotland (RCS). He studied piano and collaborative piano at the RCS; opera coaching and accompanying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, and CCM; musicology at the University of Glasgow; and conducting at Indiana University.