Chris Clement McNee was born in Canberra, Australia but spent his childhood in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea. It was here that he had his first theatrical experiences playing Cobweb a fairy in ‘A Midsummer’s Night Dream.’ Since this early age Chris has continued to perform and work as an actor, singer and director.
Chris initially completed his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from the Australian National University, Canberra. He started his vocal studies with singing teacher David Reedy and repetiteur Colin Forbes. Chris then moved to study at the Queensland Conservatorium completing a Bachelor of Music in Classical Voice studying under Gregory Massingham.
During his time in Queensland Chris founded Brisbane City Opera (BCO) and is the company’s current Artistic Director. BCO strives to bridge the gap for young artists between their tertiary studies and professional careers. With BCO Chris has directed all of BCO’s full operas to date. These include Mozart’s Bastien and Bastienne (2017) and Handel’s Apollo & Dafne (2018). Both works were Brisbane premieres, had multiple sell out showings and received overwhelmingly positive reviews. With BCO Chris also brought the Edinburgh Fringe Festival show ‘Opera Galactica’ to Brisbane for an Australian Premiere season.
With BCO Chris has programmed and directed countless recitals and concerts including an international tour of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea wherein BCO soloists worked with local actors and singers. This tour culminated in a concert held by BCO and the Port Moresby Choir at the Australian High Commission which was attended by the Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, The Australian High Commissioner and other dignitaries.
Other concert highlights with BCO include ‘Opera in the Upper House’ a charity gala hosted in Queensland Parliament’s Upper House – this was the first time opera had been performed in the space since 1864. Chris has also staged an interactive, BYO version of Mozart’s The Magic Flute, ‘Opera Classics’- A collaboration with the Queensland Philharmonic Orchestra, ‘Widmung – Dedication’ – A liederabend hosted by The Imperial Room and the ‘Opera in The Burrow’ series – An afternoon of beer, pizza and opera.
As an Assistant Director Chris has worked with British Youth Opera, the Queensland Conservatorium and Sound Thinking Australia with many international and Australian directors including – Anna Sweeny AM Hon RAM, Jacqui Sommerville, James Hurley, David Bell and Rodney Hall amongst others.
In early 2017 Chris was fortunate enough to have been invited to participate in a professional development opportunity with the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. This involved observing the rehearsal process for George Benjamin’s ‘Written on Skin’ as well as participating in stagecraft classes with the resident Jette Parker Young Artists.
As a performer, Chris’ role credits include Papageno The Magic Flute (Canberra Opera), Dr. Dulcamara The Elixir of Love (Canberra Opera) and cover The Father Hansel and Gretel (Queensland Conservatorium). He won the prestigious Margaret Nickson Award for voice and was a finalist in the Queensland Eistedfodd Opera Competition. Concert highlights include the bass soloist in Handel’s The Messiah as well as a rarely performed setting of Vaughn William’s Songs of Travel which featured poetry and monologues performed by Anna Sweeny Hon RAM AM.