Mezzo-soprano Carolyn Holt is from a farming background in the Republic of Ireland. She was the winner of the Dermot Troy Prize for the best Irish singer in the Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition, a semi-finalist in the Grange International Singing Competition and second place winner in the Bampton Opera Young Singers’ Competition, all in 2019. She recently sang the role of Sister Helen Prejean in the UK staged premiere of DEAD MAN WALKING in Glasgow to great critical acclaim. Opera Magazine wrote: “Carolyn Holt’s Sister Helen was impeccably sung, sensitively acted and never less than sincere”. She also covered the role with Welsh National Opera.
Carolyn is in demand as a soloist with orchestras and choral societies throughout the UK and Ireland where critics acclaim her “wonderfully dark, rich tone”. In 2020 she will sing The Angel in Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius with the Guinness Choir at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. She toured Ireland singing Mahler’s Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Esker Festival Orchestra in 2017 and was the soloist in Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the Lambeth Orchestra in 2018. Solo recital highlights include recitals for the Royal Overseas League, the Rudolph Kempe Society’s Young Artists Platform, Drogheda International Classical Music Series and Birr Arts Festival. Other concert highlights include Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle (Choeur de Lux Aeterna, Normandy), Mozart’s Requiem, Elijah (Penzance Choral Society), Messiah (Edward Higginbottom, Oxford Voices and the Time and Truth Ensemble), soloist in Royal Academy and Kohn Foundation Bach Cantata Series, Chausson’s Poeme de l’amour, Rutter’s Feel the Spirit (Chichester Cathedral) and Dvořák’s Mass in D major (Wexford Festival Singers).
She performed with Irish National Opera in 2018 singing The Voice (Mother) in Offenbach’s TALES OF HOFFMAN, for which she again received excellent critical acclaim. Bachtrack wrote “Carolyn Holt as the voice of Antonia’s mother stood out with her rich and seductive mezzo-soprano”. Other recent and upcoming roles include Dido DIDO AND AENEAS and Mrs Jones STREET SCENE, both with the Alexander Gibson Opera School, Prince Orlofsky DIE FLEDERMAUS with Winterbourne Opera, Donna Elvira DON GIOVANNI (cover) with Opera Theatre Company and Kitchen Boy RUSALKA (cover) with Garsington Opera. She also performs much contemporary music and was praised by the Irish Independent for her “powerful and earthy mezzo” in the role of Florence Newton, ‘The Witch of Youghal’, in the premiere of Raymond Deane’s VAGABONES with Opera Collective Ireland in 2019.
Carolyn completed her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s Alexander Gibson Opera Studio in 2019. She graduated in 2017 with Distinction from the London’s Royal Academy of Music, where she was a Kohn Foundation Bach scholar and was awarded a DipRAM for outstanding performance. She has been awarded many other prizes including the inaugural Irish Heritage Bursary, the Audience Prize in Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice, the Sybil Tutton Award, the Trench Award, the Geraldine McGee Bursary, the Mahler Prize and the P.J. Geoghegan Memorial Cup (ESB Feis Ceoil). She has studied with Mary Brennan, Judith Mok, Yvonne Howard and Scott Johnson, and participated in masterclasses with Ann Murray, Susan Bullock, Simon Keenlyside, Alison Browner, Iain Burnside and Roy Laughlin.