Colleen Rae Holmes: Performing Arts
Colleen Rae Holmes showed vocal talent very early and was accepted at the age of 7, into the prestigious girls’ choir of the Convent of Our Lady of Mercy. Until she was 14 she performed regularly and made several recordings with this choir, appearing also as a soloist.
She attended the Johannesburg School of Art, Ballet, Music and Drama where she matriculated in piano and singing. During this time she participated in the national Eisteddfods winning a total of 24 First Places and three gold medals. She made her Operatic debut while still a scholar, singing Arias by Handel with the Johannesburg Symphony under John Hancock.
Showing as much aptitude for straight theatre as she did for music she opted after matriculation, to study acting, and was accepted into the School of Dramatic art at the University of the Witwatersrand, where she graduated in 1985 with a BA Honours Degree in Acting and Stage Design.
At the end of 1985 Colleen was engaged by the Natal Performing Arts Council to play Mabel in the Broadway version of “The Pirates of Penzance” directed by Geoffrey Sutherland, to inaugurate the new Natal Playhouse. This was her first major vocal role for which she was awarded the Nederberg Opera Prize in 1986.
After the success of “The Pirates of Penzance” she decided to specialize in opera and began vocal training with Joyce Barker, Sarie Lamprecht and Michael Strauss. She appeared in several coloratura roles, at the Civic Theatre in Johannesburg and the Nico Malan Opera House in Cape Town; among them Olympia (“Les Contes d’Hoffmann”), Queen of the Night (“Die Zauberflöte”), Fräulein Silberklang (“Der Schauspieldirektor”) and Cunegonde (“Candide”).
In 1989 Colleen Rae Holmes was awarded a scholarship which enabled her to move to Austria, where she studied at the Vienna Conservatory. Her international singing career began with the title role in Istvan’s oratorio “Santa Chiara” which was premiered in Budapest in 1991.
She subsequently performed in opera and concert throughout Europe and has been a guest artist in several festivals; among them the Haydn Festtage in Eisenstadt, Klangbogen in Vienna and the Wienerfestwochen.
Her repertoire included roles such as Agathe, Donna Anna, Fiordiligi, Contessa Almaviva, Violetta, Mimi, Michaëla, Thaïs and Cordelia. She also appeared as the soprano soloist in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony, “Elias” by Mendelssohn and the Mozart and Fauré Requiems and in solo recitals.
Her most recent public performance was in “Tod und Erotic” with Marcus Josef Weiss and Franzobel at the Volkstheater in Vienna.