Carola Darwin

Classical singer
Lecturer and writer

Photo ©Emma Darwin

About Carola Darwin

Carola Darwin combines a career as an opera and concert singer with research and writing about music. She trained at Royal Northern College of Music, and went on to gain a PhD from the University of Sheffield.

In 2019, Carola commissioned a song-cycle by Cheryl Frances-Hoad, based on poems about evolution and the environment, which she premièred at the Oxford Lieder Festival and performed again at Kettle’s Yard in Cambridge .

Operatic roles include Fox (The Cunning Little Vixen, Surrey Opera), Countess (The Marriage of Figaro, Opera! Festival, Netherlands), Berta, (The Barber of Seville, Opera East) Sofia (I Lombardi, UCOpera) She has also sung Governess (The Turn of the Screw) Mimi (La Bohème) Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Pat Nixon (Nixon in China). Concert work includes a series with the Hermitage String Quartet, Héloise in Maconchy’s Héloise and Abelard, and solos for Park Lane Group’s Celebration for Elizabeth (Purcell Room). ​ Her multi-media one-woman show The Vienna Show: Music and Gender in fin-de-siècle Vienna has been seen in Winnipeg, Canada and also in London, Sheffield and Liverpool.

Carola is currently an Academic Professor at the Royal College of Music, where she teaches History of Music, including a course on Women in Music. She was selected in 2016 to research the life and work of the Viennese composer Johanna Müller-Hermann,  as part of the BBC/AHRC’s  Forgotten Women Composers project. Her article ‘Odaline de la Martinez: conductor, composer, entrepreneur, leader’ is due to be published in The Routledge Companion to Women in Music Leadership in 2023. She is also working on a book The Other Voice: Women’s musical creativity in Alma Mahler’s Vienna.

News highlights

Because of the Corovirus pandemic I haven’t been able to perform live for many months. Watch this space for upcoming performances and recordings.

SWAP’ra’s Forgotten Voices Festival (6th-13th March 2021)

The wonderful SWAP’ra (Supporting Women and Parents in Opera) are running an on-line festival of vocal music by women, Forgotten Voices with music by a huge range of exciting female composers. I’ve written a blog for them about Johanna Müller-Hermann, which you can see here: Johanna Müller-Hermann blog .

The Great Debate (14th October 2020)

Study Event at the Oxford Lieder Festival

I recently recorded a talk for this study day at the Oxford Lieder Festival. It’s about the Great Debate on evolution between Huxley and Wilberforce, which took place in Oxford in 1860, and I made the video standing in the room where the debate took place. The talk discusses some of the issues surrounding the debate, and introduces a lovely concert sung by Helen Charlston and Natalie Birch. The event was streamed live on 14th October, but can be viewed until 1st November 2020.

‘Graceful’, ‘accomplished’ and ‘imaginative’ – The Times review of Endless Forms Most Beautiful

On 18th October 2019 I premièred  Endless Forms Most Beautiful, a new work for soprano and string quartet, with texts about evolution and the environment, which I commissioned from the up-and-coming British composer Cheryl Frances-Hoad. The cycle was praised in The Times as ‘shrewd, witty and imaginative’, theI Gildas Quartet’s playing was described as ‘graceful’ and the review described my singing as ‘accomplished’. Contact me if you’d like to read the full review. And come and hear the piece at Kettle’s Yard, if you haven’t already.

Women in Music Leadership

The Routledge Companion to Women and Musical Leadership: The Nineteenth Century and Beyond which will be published in 2021 includes a chapter that I have written on the Cuban-American conductor Odaline de la Martinez, who was the first woman to conduct a complete Prom. Since then, she has been a tireless champion of music by women, as well as contemporary composers in general, and the music of the Americas .

Johanna Müller-Hermann

The work of Johanna Müller-Hermann (1868-1941) has been almost completely forgotten, although in her life-time she was a highly respected composer and an important part of the Viennese musical scene. In 2017, Carola was selected for a BBC/AHRC to seek out her work and prepare it for broadcast on Radio 3.

See Research and Writing for more information, or view and download the PDF below.


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