Donald Maxwell was born in Perth, graduated in Geography from Edinburgh University, and studied singing with Joseph Hislop. He made his debut with Scottish Opera in 1976 and has since sung with all the major British Opera companies, at the BBC Proms and abroad at La Scala Milan, Vienna Staatsoper, The Metropolitan Opera New York, Teatro Colón, Buenos Aires, Théâtre Musical de Paris and Salzburg Easter Festival.
He has a repertoire of over 100 roles ranging from Eisenstein in Die Fledermaus to Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream and including Balstrode, Iago, Wozzeck, Flying Dutchman, Rigoletto, Nick Shadow, Golaud, Faninal and Don Alfonso. He is particularly noted for his portrayal of Falstaff, which he has sung at the Edinburgh International Festival and in London, Paris, New York, Tokyo, Milan and Vienna. He has also created several world premieres in works by Holt, Manoury, Harle, Berio, O'Regan and Eotvos.
Donald Maxwell's recordings include Bottom in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Falstaff in Vaughan Williams' Sir John in Love, Carmina Burana, Kismet, and several Gilbert and Sullivan operas. He has had a long association with the Buxton Festival, including directing The Beautiful Galathea and Pimpinone for the Festival. Donald was Director of the National Opera Studio 2001-2008, and has taught at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama.