Robbin, Catherine

 Catherine Robbin, mezzo-soprano (b at Toronto 28 Sept 1950). Early studies with Dorothy Allan Park in Toronto and with Jacob Hamm and Phyllis Mailing in Vancouver were followed by masterclasses and private lessons with Ré Koster (Canada) and Diane Forlano (London). She made her professional debut in 1972 in Handel's Messiah with the St Catharines Symphony Orchestra. Robbin won prizes in European competitions in 1978 and 1979, appeared at the Bordeaux Festival and the Saint-Lizier-en-Ariège Festival, and made her New York recital debut in 1981 with pianist Roger Vignoles. At the 1982 STRATFORD FESTIVAL production of Purcell's Dido and Aeneas, her sensitive singing brought her further acclaim.

Rich in timbre and resonance, and remarkable for its evenness, focus and range, her voice has been compared to the great Janet Baker's and, by the early 1980s, had brought her to international prominence in the performance of baroque repertoire. Besides performing with major Canadian orchestras and choirs, she has sung with the Boston Symphony Orchestra, the English Baroque Soloists and the National Symphony Orchestra, and has been widely broadcast. Although preferring oratorio and concert work, Robbin has appeared in operatic roles such as Olga in Eugene Onegin (1984, Lyons Opera) and the title role in Mignon (1984, Opera in Concert). She has sung much Handel, including title roles in operas such as Xerxes and Floridante, and has collaborated with baroque specialists Christopher Hogwood and John Elliot Gardiner in concerts and recordings. Equally at home in romantic repertoire, Robbin has recorded Beethoven's Missa Solemnis, Schumann lieder and Mahler cycles. Recent releases include Berlioz's Roméo et Juliette (Gardiner) and Rave Melodies (CBC and André Laplante).

Robbin's 1998/1999 season saw her performing, in Canada, Elgar's The Musicmakers with the Kitchener Waterloo Philharmonic Choir and Mahler's Lieder Eines Fahrenden Gesellen (Hans Graf and the CALGARY PHILHARMONIC); and, in Europe, Bach's Weihnachts-Oratorium (Christopher Hogwood) and Mozart's Requiem (Paul Goodwin and the Academy of Ancient Music). In 1999-2000 she appeared in Barcelona, Washington, Vancouver and Montréal, in works as varied as Mozart's La Clemenza di Tito and Bach's St Matthew Passion; guest-starred in the Aldeburgh Connection's Schubertiade in Toronto; and performed a Holiday Fantasy at Ottawa's NATIONAL ARTS CENTRE.

Catherine Robbin retired from performance in 2003. Her farewell recital on May 12 of that year was performed at the Glenn Gould Studio in Toronto and was recorded and broadcast by the CBC. Although her voice was evidently still in full bloom, she decided to turn her attention to full-time teaching and joined the faculty of York University.