“Catherine Backhouse sings Orestes’ song with such charm that I wished Offenbach had given her more to do.”
“Young Scottish Mezzo Catherine Backhouse stands out as a noble, rich-voiced Annina”
“the whole thing revolved around Catherine Backhouse’s spirited Concepcion. Darting about the stage, eyes flashing, she shaped Ravel’s artfully artless lines with an easy grace and her voice – silvery and translucent at the top – had a core of satisfyingly sultry darkness.”
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 completed the prestigious Opera Studies and Artist Diploma programmes at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama with distinction. She was a Scottish Opera Emerging Artist for the 2017/2018 Season and won the Sunday Herald Cutlure Award for Best Musical Artist for her performances which included Annina La Traviata, Opera Highlights Tour and singing the world première of Grace Notes by Samuel Bordoli. Since then she has played Concepción L’heure Espagnole for Grange Park Opera (film) and Mid-Wales Opera, Isabella L’Italiana in Algeri with Diva Opera, Suzuki Madama Butterfly with West Green House Opera, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni with Merry Opera and Orestes Belle Hélène with Opera della Luna.
Previously 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. 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. 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 and the title role in Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges in the Barbican. 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. Other 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. Catherine has covered the roles of Idamante Idomeneo for Garsington Opera. Olga Eugene Onegin for Scottish Opera, Daughter of Akhnaten Akhnaten English National Opera Louhi in Swanhunter for Opera North.
An enthusiast of new music, Catherine has performed Kurtág Messages of the Late R.V.Troussova, Mariko in Tokaido Road by Nicola LeFanu, Last Lines a concert of newly commissioned songs with the Hebrides Ensemble, 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 appeared as a soloist with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in the St Magnus Festival on Orkney, sung Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with Ludus Baroque, Alexander Nevsky in the Barbican, Handel’s Messiah with Dunedin Consort, Verdi’s Requiem and Rossini’s Petite Messe Solennelle. Her recital work has featured Elgar Sea Pictures, Schumann Frauenliebe und Leben, Wagner Wesendonk Lieder, Mahler Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen and ‘Emotionally Volatile’ a programme of songs by women. She also performs programmes for voice, viola and piano with her group The Amalie Trio.