New Zealand tenor completed his degree in E-Commerce and Information Systems at Victoria University of Wellington, when his singing education became a priority after graduation. He subsequently received a tuition grant to enable him to increase his visits to Dunedin where he was studying under the direction of Isabel Cunningham and Professor Terrence Dennis, both at the Otago University Department of Music.
In 2012 he accepted an invitation to join Opera Australia as a Young Artist in the Moffatt Oxenbould Young Artist Program, which provided performing opportunities in Sydney and Melbourne. He performed his first role with Australian Opera as Normanno in Donizetti's "Lucia di Lammermoor".
Last year he joined the Oz Opera tour of Don Giovanni. Playing the role of Don Ottavio on alternate nights in a slightly compressed English version. He toured with the opera to far-flung towns of Port Piri, Alice Springs and Darwin, across the northern, western and central states of Australia.
2014 started as Tamino in The Magic Flute followed by rehearsals for Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin, as a cover for the role of the poet Lensky. Swapping the snowy scenes of Russia for the sun and the surf, he was off to the Gold Coast to play Tamino again in a new production of The Magic Flute. Later in 2014 he made his debut as Fenton, the young lover in Falstaff.
Jonathan Abernethy finished 2014 being named as the winner of the 2014 Opera Awards (Australia). The Awards include the Youth Music Foundation of Australia Award of A$30,000, the Armstrong-Martin Scholarship of A$4,500 and entry to the Britten-Pears Young Artist Programme which gives artists the opportunity to participate in a high-calibre international masterclass course or opera production led by eminent musicians in the UK.
During his period with Opera Australia Dame Kiri provided mentoring and the Foundation continued to provide tuition grants to enable him to return to Dunedin for lessons with Isabel Cunningham and Terence Dennis.