“Backhouse in particular has a vivid stage presence and a rich mezzo timbre.”Richard Morrison, The Times
“Young Scottish Mezzo Catherine Backhouse stands out as a noble, rich-voiced Annina”Rowena Smith, The Guardian
“The beautifully focused mezzo of Catherine Backhouse. . .is a delight.”Hilary Finch, The Times
Sein wir wieder gut
‘Sein wir wieder gut’ from Ariadne auf Naxos by Strauss
But who may abide
But who may abide from Messiah by Handel
‘Die Georgine’ by Strauss
Mezzo-soprano Catherine Backhouse grew up in Edinburgh and began singing as a chorister in St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral. She graduated with an honours degree in music from The University of Durham and has completed the prestigious Opera Studies and Artist Diploma programmes at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with distinction. She is a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist for the 2017/2018 Season playing Annina in La Traviata, Olga (cover) Eugene Onegin and touring Opera Highlights. Last year she played the title role in Donizetti’s La Favorite, Third Lady in The Magic Flute with Mid-Wales Opera, Philomen in Gluck Philomen and Baucis (UK Premiere) and Pallas in Arne The Judgement of Paris with Bampton Classical Opera and Idamante (cover) for Garsington Opera. In 2015 her debuts included Dryad in Ariadne auf Naxos with Opera Project at West Green House, Solo Fairy in Mendelssohn A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Garsington Opera/RSC and covering Louhi in Swanhunter for Opera North.
Catherine was a 2014 Britten-Pears Young Artist and played the role of Kate Julian in a new production of Britten’s Owen Wingrave at the Aldeburgh and Edinburgh International Festivals to critical acclaim. Other operatic highlights include Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus at Clonter Opera, the title role in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges in the Barbican and Monteverdi’s Coronation of Poppea at the Ryedale Festival. While at Guildhall she played Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Jean in Le Portait de Manon by Massenet, Eva in Comedy on the Bridge by Martinu, Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Soeur Anne in Dialogues des Carmélites and Mabel/Nurse Wallace in Unknown Doors with Iain Burnside. Previous roles performed are Mezzo Actor in Judith Weir’s A Night at the Chinese Opera with British Youth Opera, Rossweisse in Die Walküre at the St Endellion Festival, Ino in Handel’s Semele and Sesto in Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito for Hampstead Garden Opera.
An enthusiast of new music, Catherine has performed Kurtág Messages of the Late R.V.Troussova, Mariko in Tokaido Road by Nicola LeFanu, Jan in Jan Tait and the Bear by Emily Doolittle, Ronald Reagan in The Catfish Conundrum by Edward Lambert and Flat Pack: An Opera in IKEA by Tom AZ Lane. On the concert platform she has appeared as a soloist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the St Magnus Festival on Orkney, sung Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Ludus Baroque, Handel’s Messiah with Dunedin Consort, Mendelssohn’s Elijah in Dartington, Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle with the South London Singers and Alexander Nevsky in the Barbican. Her recital work has featured Elgar Sea Pictures, Schumann Frauenliebe und Leben, Wagner Wesendonk Lieder, Mahler Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen and Britten Cabaret Songs. She also performs programmes for voice, viola and piano with her group The Amalie Trio.
Before focusing on solo singing and opera she spent three years touring the world as a member of professional a cappella group Voces8 and also worked with the BBC Singers, Polyphony, Philharmonia Voices and London Voices. Her Artist Diploma at Guildhall was supported by Sophie’s Silver Lining Trust, The Oldhurst Trust, The Worshipful Company of Plaisterer’s and The Kathleen Trust. Catherine is grateful for the tutelage and guidance of John Evans, Eugene Asti, Peter Robinson, Audrey Hyland, Dominic Wheeler, Clive Timms, Lada Valesova and Liz Rowe.