Catherine Carby

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Currently residing in the UK, leading Australian mezzo soprano Catherine Carby has performed with major opera companies including the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, English National Opera, Scottish Opera, Opera Australia, Victoria State Opera, State Opera South Australia and Opera Queensland. As a board member of Swap’ra UK (Supporting Women and Parents in Opera), Catherine is committed to achieving gender and pay equality in the opera industry.

Alongside returns to the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Catherine’s engagements in 2022/23 included the roles of Idamante (Idomeneo) for Victorian Opera, Waltraute (Die Götterdämmerung) for Longborough Festival Opera, Malcolm (La Donna del Lago) for Buxton International Festival, the title role in Médée for Pinchgut Opera and, on the concert platform, Wellgunde (Das Rheingold) with the Sydney Symphony and chief conductor Simone Young, Handel Messiah (Sir Andrew Davis conducting) and Verdi Requiem (with Chief Conductor Jaime Martínwith Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, and Mahler’s Des Knaben Wunderhorn at the Lisa Gasteen National Opera Program in Brisbane.

Catherine returns to Australia this year for a national tour of Mahler’s Das Lied von der Erde with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and to perform Gertrude (Hamlet: Dean) for Opera Australia. 

Catherine’s roles for the Royal Opera include Emilia (Otello), Antonia’s mother (Tales of Hoffmann), Second Maid (Elektra), Minerva/Fortune (The Return of Ulysses), Siegrune (Die Walküre), Sister Mathilde (Dialogue des Carmélites), Annina (La Traviata), and Voice from Above (Die Frau ohne Schatten) and for the Royal Ballet, Katharina Schratt (Mayerling). Further roles include Brangäne (Tristan und Isolde) at the Teatro São Carlos, Lisbon; Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito) for National Opera Company, Canberra; title role in Cherubini’s Médée and Penelope (Il Ritorno d’Ulisse) for Pinchgut Opera; Gluck’s Iphigenie en Tauride (title role), Aurelio (Donizetti’s L’Assedio di Calais), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare), Idamante, Diana (La Calisto), and Rodrigo (Donizetti’s Pia di Tolomei) for English Touring Opera; Sara (Robert Devereux), Elcia (Mose in Egitto, Rossini) and Romeo (I Capuleti e I Montecchi) for Chelsea Opera Group; Ramiro (La finta giardiniera), and Prue in Malcom Arnold’s The Dancing Master, (the Resonus Classics recording of which won BBC Music Magazine’s Best Opera Award 2021), for Buxton International Festival; Brangäne for Longborough Festival Opera, and the title role in L’Orfeo for Opus 48, Oxford.

For Opera Australia Catherine has sung Octavian (Der Rosenkavalieravailable on DVD), Carmen, Arsace (Partenope, Green Room Award nomination), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni)Romeo (I Capuleti e i Montecchi), Hippolyta (A Midsummer Night’s Dream), Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus), Baba the Turk (The Rake’s Progress, Helpmann Award), Mallika (Lakmé), Ruth (The Pirates of Penzance), Maddalena (Rigoletto), Cornelia (Giulio Cesare, Green Room Award), Ruggiero (Alcina), Kristina (The Makropulos Affair), Suzuki (Madama Butterfly), Second Lady (Magic Flute) and Auntie (Peter Grimes).

On the concert platform she has been heard in Elijah at the Hexham Festival; Nita (The Mountebanks) with the BBC Concert Orchestra; Beethoven Symphony No 9 with the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Ulster Orchestra; Haydn’s Paukenmesse with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment; Das Lied von der Erde with the Gardner Chamber Orchestra Boston; Mozart’s Mass in C for the Polski Chór Kameralny Gdańsk; Karl Jenkins’ 75th birthday celebrations; Verdi Requiem with Sydney Symphony Orchestra and Haydn’s Arianna auf Naxos with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.

Her recordings include The Mountebanks (with the BBC Singers for Dutton Epoch), Lampe’s The Dragon of Wantley for Resonus Classics, Satanella for Naxos CD, The Love for Three Oranges for Chandos CD, Les contes d’Hoffmann for Sony CD/Blu Ray, Der Rosenkavalier for Opera Australia CD/DVD/Blu Ray, and The Royal Opera’s Die Walküre (Siegrune) on Opus Arte Blu Ray/DVD which won the 2021 BBC Music Magazine’s DVD of the Year, and Mayerling.

Catherine Carby studied at the Canberra School of Music and the Royal College of Music, London, and was a Young Artist for both Victoria State Opera and Opera Australia. She was a finalist in several major competitions including the Kathleen Ferrier Award, the ABC Young Performers (Vocal finalist) and the Young Concert Artists Trust.


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“Her performance is a tour de force, vocally and dramatically. Her rich mezzo-soprano contains a spectrum of colours and nuance. She paces herself through the simmering first two acts until the gripping third act and her showstopper pieces, an exquisitely controlled Quel prix de mon amour in which she drags us unrelentingly into the depths of her own personal hell, Noire filles du stix and Dieu du Cocyte et des Royaumes sombres.”

Shamista de Soysa

“Pinchgut Opera’s production is a tour-de-force for Catherine Carby, who navigates its range with a sound that is always musically mellifluous and shaped, whether in moments of exquisitely rounded softness or sharp-edged ferocity……Carby creates utterances that breathe human feeling even as she ventures on inhuman acts.”

Peter McCallum

“Carby thoroughly inhabits the role of Médée, calibrating her performance with incisiveness and imparting affecting nuance to her character’s psychological development. In particular, Act 3’s Quel prix de mon amour (What a price for my love) creates a central highlight as a formidable example of voice and heart attuned to soul-bearing anguish. Carby utilises her richly textured mezzo-soprano to great effect as the love she tries to hold onto is crushed by a revenge her sorcery can aid.”

Paul Selar

“The opera is a vehicle for Carby, who performs the tortured Médée with a sense of terrifyingly controlled desolation. Her mezzo-soprano pours through Médée’s fraught journey like a dark wine – rich, complex, sensuously shaped and laced with notes of sweet and bitter.”

Chantal Ngyuen

“Delivering magnificent soulfulness and grit, Catherine Carby convinced in portraying Sesto’s unrequited love for Vitellia while being putty in her hands, her Act 1 Parto, parto, ma tu, ben mio an especially throttling display of heartfelt emotion in agreeing to murder Tito.”

Paul Selar

"…Carby sounds extraordinarily beautiful as her voice cleaves through Gluck’s soaring lines"

Tim Ashley

“…And if you want to hear world-class singing, that’s what you’ll get from mezzo-soprano Catherine Carby in the title role....Carby sails through her hugely demanding role with seemingly effortless grace”.

Michael Church

Managed by Graham Pushee: Email Graham February 2024

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