Carolyn Holt was the winner of the Dermot Troy Prize for the best Irish singer in the 2019 Veronica Dunne International Singing Competition and 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 was also a semi finalist in the 2019 Grange International Singing Competition and was awarded second place at the Bampton Opera Young Singers' Competition 2019.
Carolyn recently completed her studies at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s international opera school. In 2017 she graduated 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, the Cork Scholarship and Isabel May Walton Scholarship.
Carolyn made her debut 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”.
Roles that Carolyn has performed all or in part include Dido in Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas and Mrs Jones in Weill’s Street Scene both at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Prince Orlofsky in Die Fledermaus, Donna Elvira (understudy) in Don Giovanni, Jocasta in Stravinsky’s Oedipus Rex, Sesto in Giulio Cesare, La Zia Principessa in Puccini's Suor Angelica, Mamma Rosa in Cilea's L'Arlesiana and Second Lady in Die Zauberflöte.
Carolyn also performs contemporary music and in Autumn 2019 sang the role of The Witch of Youghal in the world premiere of Raymond Deane’s Vagabones for Opera Collective Ireland which toured Ireland. Other contemporary roles include Minskwoman in Jonathan Dove’s Flight, the premiere of The Art of Chaos, presented by the Royal Academy of Music's Composition Department and appeared in the premiere of the award winning opera The Second Violinist by Donnacha Dennehy and Enda Walsh.
Carolyn performs regularly as soloist with orchestras, choral societies and in recitals. Next year Carolyn will sing The Angel in Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. In 2018 she toured Ireland singing Mahler's Lieder eines fahrenden Gesellen with the Esker Festival Orchestra and was the soloist in Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the Lambeth Orchestra. She is invited regularly as soloist with choral societies throughout the UK and Ireland where critics acclaim her “wonderfully dark, rich tone”.
Carolyn has been awarded many prizes including First Prize in the inaugural Irish Heritage Bursary, the Audience Prize in Northern Ireland Opera Festival of Voice, the Trench Award and Bursary, the Geraldine McGee Bursary, John McCormack Bursary, the Mahler Prize and the P.J. Geoghegan Memorial Cup in the ESB Feis Ceoil.
Carolyn began singing at age 15 and studied with Mary Brennan at the Royal Irish Academy of Music, with Judith Mok in Dublin and with Yvonne Howard at London’s Royal Academy of Music. At the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, she studied with Scott Johnson and Duncan Williams at the Opera School. She has participated in masterclasses with Ann Murray, Susan Bullock, Simon Keenlyside, Alison Browner, Iain Burnside and Roy Laughlin.
Carolyn's studies have been generously supported by The Arts Council of Ireland, the Mario Lanza Trust and the Sybil Tutton Award.