Fionnuala McCarthy was born in Ireland but grew up in South Africa, studying the cello, singing and the piano at the University of Johannesburg. A scholarship enabled her to continue her studies with Helmut Kretschmar at the Detmold Academy of Music, from where she graduated with honours. A month later she received her first contract at the Mannheim National Theatre, where she sang lyric soprano roles. In 1991 she moved to the Deutsche Oper am Rhein in Düsseldorf and sang practically all the great lyric soprano roles, including Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Liù in Turandot, Violetta in La traviata, Mimì in La bohème, Ilia in Idomeneo and Poppea in L'incoronazione di Poppea. Two years years a guest contract took her to the Komische Oper in Berlin, where she enjoyed great success as Sour Angelica and as Nedda in Pagliacci. By September 1994 she had signed a guest contract with the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, a contract that in due course became permanent. Here Fionnuala McCarthy has to date sung Pamina in Die Zauberflöte, Susanna in Le nozze di Figaro, Ighino in Palestrina, Sophie in Der Rosenkavalier and the soprano soloist in Orff's Carmina Burana. Other roles in her repertory include Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette, the Vixen in The Cunning Little Vixen, Blanche in Dialogues des Carmélites, Musetta in La bohème, Alice Ford in Falstaff, Eva in Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg, Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte and Grete in Der Traumgörge.