Grainne Gillis


Style & Level

Musical Theatre

Highlights & Awards

  • Contralto Prize, Feis Maitiu, Dublin, Ireland
  • Donal 'Doc' Gleeson Award, Best Recitalist, Cork, Ireland
  • Capriccio Competition First Prize, Cork, Ireland
  • 2 Italian Government Scholarships
  • Accademmia Chigiana Scholarship, Siena, Italy
  • Equity Charitable Trust Award, London, UK
  • Help Musicians Charitable Trust Award, London, UK


I'm an Irish-American contralto based in London until recently, now based in Berlin. I read Music at UCC and graduated from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Praised by the Observer as having a voice with 'rich, dramatic potential', in 2018/19 I sang Flora in the Olivier award-winning King’s Head Theatre’s production of La Traviata and opened the London Song Festival 2018 with a concert dedicated to the work of the great American composer, Leonard Bernstein. Other highlights included my one-woman show Mezzo Sings The Bard, Hélène in Faust et Hélène, the Old Woman in Candide and La Zia Principessa in Suor Angelica at the Llangollen International Eisteddfod. In 2019/20 I made my Irish debut as Ruth in The Pirates of Penzance at Cork Opera House, and Vampyrmeister/Suse in Der Vampyr for Gothic Opera (Offie-nominated).

COVID cancellations in 2020 included a national tour of Ireland with 'Sea Trilogy' as well as 1st Magd/cover Klytemnestra in Elektra. During the pandemic, I've been involved in a number of online projects including No Room No Room No Room for Opera Harmony, aired on Operavision, 'Last Party on Earth' on film and at Tête-à-Tête 2020, Bread and Circuses (Tête-à-Tête 2020), Random Opera’s Gianni Schicchi (Zita) and La Femme Lunatique’s Elizabeth Bishop project. Future roles include Erda (Siegfried), Mary (Der Fliegende Hollander) and Klytemnestra (Elektra) in Germany. In 2021 I also narrated, co-composed and sang on a soundscape project, Utterances I, commemorating the women who founded the Irish Free State. In addition to my opera work, I'm also a voiceover artist, actress, writer and activist, and am particularly interested in new ways of presenting work in a post-pandemic landscape. Plans are afoot for a revised version of Mezzo Sings The Bard plus a new show called The Contralto Cabaret.