Opera star from Forest Gate loves to belt out Jessie J

PUBLISHED: 11:48 08 April 2015 | UPDATED: 11:48 08 April 2015

Opera singer, Catherine

Opera singer, Catherine


She might take the stage every night as the lead in a touring opera – but Catherine Carby loves nothing more than singing Jessie J with her eight-year-old daughter.

Catherine Carby as Aurelio in The Siege of Calais (Pic: Bill Knight)Catherine Carby as Aurelio in The Siege of Calais (Pic: Bill Knight)

The 42-year-old from Lincoln Road, Forest Gate, is the star of the English Touring Opera’s production of The Siege of Calais.

With echoes of Les Misérables, the show is a tale of the citizens of the French city who offer their lives to save their homeland from the English army.

“I play one of the good guys,” Catherine told the Recorder.

“I’m the son of the Mayor and we’re quite important people in Calais. I’m singing solo most of the time, I’m probably the biggest role in the play.”

The show opened at Hackney Empire on March 7 and is now touring nationwide until the end of May.

The mum-of-one says playing a man doesn’t phase her and it’s something she’s used to.

“These young male parts are often written for a mezzo soprano which is my voice type,” she adds.

Although she’s always been musical, it was the french horn that led to her operatic career.

Catherine studied the instrument in Australia and at the Royal College of Music in London before joining choirs and discovering her passion for singing.

In her role as Aurelio she opens the opera by abseiling onto the stage.

“My character swings on to sneak into the English camps to steal food. It’s quite scary – I quickly realised I needed gloves and knee protection after getting a few scrapes.”

Although she loves the “moving duet” she sings with a soprano on stage, Catherine says her favourite songs to sing are with her eight-year-old while listening to Radio One.

“I sing a lot of Jessie J with my daughter in the car.

“It’s tough being away on tour so often but it’s something I’ve got used to. My lifestyle involves juggling school runs, practising most days and working evenings around my husband’s nine-to-five job. I spend a lot of time on Skype, texting and on Facebook,” she said.

Speaking about her home in Forest Gate, she added: “I feel like it’s getting better round here.

“It’s becoming more cool and I see a new shop pop-up [shop] every day.”

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