Born in Hungary, the mezzo soprano Katalin Károlyi began her musical studies on the violin before studying singing with Noëlle Barker and Julia Hamari. She went on to set up the Studio Versailles Opéra with Rachel Yakar and René Jacobs. Since then she has concentrated on repertoire from baroque opera, chamber music and contemporary music.
Katalin Károlyi has sung under the direction of conductors such as Lord Yehudi Menuhin (Jeney Funeral Rite), William Christie (Charpentier Médée, Les Plaisirs de Versailles, La Descente d'Orphée aux Enfers; Monteverdi Madrigals; Rameau Hippolyte et Aricie; Landi Il sant'Alessio,..), Philippe Herreweghe (Stravinsky Mass), Laurence Equilbey (vocal music of Debussy, Ravel and Poulenc), Paul van Nevel (music of the 15th century), Peter Srottner (Strauss Elektra), Bernard Tétu (German chamber music of the 19th and 20th centuries), Roland Hayrabedian (Stravinsky Les Noces), Reinbert de Leeuw, David Robertson, Thomas Adès, Georges Benjamin, Georges Elie Octors, Friedrich Cerha and Susanna Mälkki (contemporary music).
She has performed at many festivals including Aix-en-Provence, Ravinia Chicago, Ille-de-France and at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. She has also appeared with leading opera companies worldwide including the Opéra National de Paris, Teatro alla Scala, Teatro Colon, and in concert at Carnegie Hall, Wigmore and Barbican Halls, London and the Cité de la Musique, Paris directed by Jean-Marie Villegier, Cathie Boyd, André Willms, Charlotte Nessi, Adrian Noble, Christophe Marthaler.
In 2000 György Ligeti composed Sippal, Dobbal, Nádihegedüvel for her and the Amadinda Percussion Group and she has subsequently given numerous performances including with the Asko Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, SŌ Percussion, Tambucco, Contrechamps and at the Salzburg Festival, Carnegie Hall New York, NDR Hamburg, Queen Elizabeth Hall London, BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall, Wiener Konzerthaus, Los Angeles Walt Disney Concert Hall and at the Cheltenham Music Festival. Her performance with Amadinda was recorded by Teldec Classics and released as part of their ongoing Ligeti Series.
For William Christie she has sung Il Ritorno d'Ulisse Patria at the Opéra Comique Paris, Wiener Festwochen, Opéra de Lausanne, Opéra de Bordeaux, Barbican Centre London, Brooklyn Academy of Music New York and at the Festival d'Aix en Provence. This was followed by a double bill of Charpentier Les Arts Florissants and La Descente d’Orfée aux enfers with Les Arts Florissants throughout Europe.
Other notable engagements include Ligeti Aventures, Nouvelle Aventures at the Lincoln Center New York and the Opera National de Paris (Bastille), Berio Folk Songs with Psappha at the City of London Festival and with the London Sinfonietta throughout the UK, Reich Tehillim at the Berliner Philharmonie, Brown and Harvey with the Ensemble Intercontemporain, Jeney Halotti szertartas with the National Orchestra of Hungary, Les Noces with RIAS Kammerchor at the Kultur Ruhr festival Germany, Sciarrino La Infinito Nero for Almeida Opera and also with the Schoenberg Ensemble, Berio Calmo with MusikFabrik, the world premiere of John Woolrich’s The Sea and Its Shore for Almeida Opera and with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group and Kyriakides An Ocean of Rain for Theatre Cryptic at Aldeburgh Festival and in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. She gives regular concerts throughout Europe with Amadinda Percussion Group and Ictus Ensemble.
Katalin Károlyi has broadcast and recorded with Les Arts Florissants, the Groupe Vocal de France, Le Parlement de Musique and La Chapelle Royale.
Recently she sang Berio and Ligeti with the Seoul Philharmonic, a world premier of Addiamento by Jan van de Putte with the Asko Schoenberg Ensemble. She also appears with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in a festival curated by Thomas Ades which includes performances of Sippal, Dobbal, Nádihegedüvel and new opera by Gerald Barry based on The Importance of Being Earnest.