March 2013 (Fourteen
19th Century - Operatic
Visitors since 1999 -
The Hibernian (Irish) Prima Donna ©
Foreword by conductor, Richard Bonynge
(372 page Biography,
with photos and a chronology of her travels and performances)
Brief overview of her career
This distinguished young Irish soprano, performs around the Globe--- in Europe, Britain, Ireland, America (45 cities/towns), Canada, Chile, Peru, Hawaii, Australia, India, Singapore, Java and elsewhere, during the nineteenth-century.
1818 born in Limerick, Ireland located at the mouth of the River Shannon.
1841 in Dublin she shares the concert platform with the great pianist Franz Liszt.
1845 in Milan she becomes the reigning prima donna at La Scala with Verdi in the audience.
1849 in London at the Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden she is a sensation.
1849 in London this young Irish soprano sings at Buckingham Palace for Queen Victoria and 500 guests.
1849 in Dublin, Cork and Limerick she is the returning great international prima donna of the opera.
1851 in Boston she sang for Daniel Webster and his family.
1852 in Washington DC she sang for the president of the United States and his family.
1853 in the Goldfields around Sacramento she sings for the miners and diggers.
1854 in the Hawaiian Islands she sings for King Kamehameha II with great success and amusement.
1854 in Sydney, Australia she becomes the first great European opera singer to perform there.
1855 in Calcutta, India, she entertains the British Army and their wives with great éclat.
1855 in Hobart, Tasmania where she gives concerts with great success.
1856 departs Sydney to return to England via the Cape of Good Hope in Africa.
1856-1861 gives concerts in England and Ireland.
Welcome to the Catherine Hayes web site - Ireland's First Great International Prima Donna!
The book "Catherine Hayes: The Hibernian Prima
Donna," 'by Basil Walsh, is published by Irish Academic Press, with
distribution in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand.
This is a remarkable story of a unique young Irishwoman who traveled the globe during the 19th century, singing opera and songs with great passion and success everywhere. Perhaps her greatest moment came in Buckingham Palace, London in 1849... after an evening of singing Italian operatic arias for Queen Victoria and 500 guests she responded to the Queen's request for an encore by singing the beautiful Irish song, "Kathleen Mavourneen." The Queen was so impressed, that she recorded her comments on the Irish Prima Donna's performance for posterity in her diary the next day. The Queen was very complimentary!
Read what the critics in Europe and America said about the Biography
Daily Express - (UK) " A rags to riches tale... Hayes was the "Madonna" of her day, she was the 19th-century operatic equivalent of the world's most famous pop star... Catherine Hayes had it all, a voice that captivated her public, financial rewards and a man she loved... then tragedy"
Classical Music Magazine - (UK) "Basil Walsh has drawn on letters, theatrical memorabilia and newspaper reviews to build a picture of her career... his affectionate portrait offers fascinating glimpses into the social and musical world of 150 years ago..."
OperaNow - (UK) "Thanks to Basil Walsh's extensively researched biography... Catherine Hayes is at last receiving the historical and musical recognition she deserves"
Donizetti Society Newsletter - (UK) " A long overdue study of a fascinating Irish artist, a famous Lucia and Linda, a beautiful angelic redhead soprano who took Italy by storm, a great star. A fine and exhaustive biography by Basil Walsh... immaculate presentation, indexed, chronology, repertoire..."
The World of Hibernia Magazine - (USA) " Thank you Mr. Walsh for extending our horizons with this delightful story... Basil Walsh has worked hard to inform us of this enigmatic woman, her fabulous voice, her devoted family loyalty and her charitable nature, he gives facts, meticulous footnotes and rare illustrations, which all together create a vivid picture of Catherine Hayes"
Sunday Independent - (Ireland) "In the absence of recording evidence [Catherine Hayes' 'time was long before gramophone records were invented] it is impossible to assess the merit of operatic voices of the past with the result that we rely on their biographers which isn't 'always satisfactory. However, in the case of Basil Walsh, a Dublin author living in Florida, such is his detailed research in numerous countries that one is left in no doubt that his subject, the diva Catherine Hayes, enjoyed a glittering career..."
The Sunday Tribune - (Ireland) "Catherine Hayes packed a great deal into her four decades at a time when travel was difficult and dangerous... We are greatly indebted to Basil Walsh for this magnificent, entertaining and beautifully illustrated book. It makes excellent reading"
The Dublin Historical Record (Ireland) "Basil Walsh has performed a great service to Irish operatic history with this excellently researched volume... It also has a most valuable chronology of her [Catherine Hayes'] performances and travels throughout the world which further services the student of this fascinating woman who deserves to be better known to her compatriots."
Catherine Hayes performed before Queen Victoria and 500 guests
at Buckingham Palace, London in 1849.
Catherine Hayes and British tenor Sims Reeves at La Scala,
Milan in Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor in 1846.
The Royal Italian Opera, Covent Garden where Catherine made her London debut in April 1849
Lucia di Lammermoor, Vienna 1846 Le Prophete, London 1849
The Biography contains, 35 illustrations, a chronology of the Prima Donna's operatic and concert performances, her travels around the Globe to 15 countries, including, France, Italy, Britain, Ireland, America (45 cities), Canada, Peru, Chile, Hawaii, Australia, India, Singapore, Java, etc., during the middle of the 19th century. Her relationships with leading singers, composers and personalities of the times. Her romantic encounters in Europe, America and Australia and her successes which included phenomenal earnings and the great tragedy she experienced in her final years.
To place an order for the book...
Hayes: The Hibernian Prima Donna"
by Basil Walsh
(ISBN No. 0 7165 2662 X)
Click on: (enter - "Catherine Hayes; author, Basil Walsh")
Portland, Oregon and Elsewhere, at,
- 1 800 944 6190
EUROPE: (Irish Academic Press, Dublin) www.iap.ie
or any major bookseller.
ENGLAND/UK: contact: any Waterstone's bookshops in any city in the UK
Film/TV Options available on the Catherine Hayes biography:
Contact Basil Walsh - email@example.com (Webmaster)
His latest work was published in October 2007. See below for details.
Biography: "Michael W.
Balfe: A Unique Victorian Composer" by Basil Walsh
has recently been published by Irish Academic Press in association with the Arts Council of Ireland,
for Balfe's bicentennial year 2008.
Click on: M. W. Balfe's, 21 "Continental" Operas - http://balfecontinentaloperas.wordpress.com/
Irish classical music pioneers musicians who made a difference -
CLICK on -
This page was last updated March 2013 © BW/1999-2013