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Covered Covered & Performed Scenes Premiere of New Work Concert COVID-cancelled
'Donde lieta usci' - Puccini, La Bohème (informal recording 2018)
Independent 'Numinous Pictures' Film Trailer - Soundtrack. Composer James Thomas, Jan 2018.
Onegin Final Scene Opening - Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (informal recording 2019)
DipRAM for Outstanding Final Recital Performance – Royal Academy of Music, Master of Arts (2020)
Josephine Baker Trust (2019)
Choral Scholarship, St John's Hyde Park (2018)
Geraint Evans Recital Prize for Outstanding Vocal Performance - Cardiff University (2011)
David Lloyd Vocal Scholarship - Cardiff University (2009)
Special Provisions Music Place - Wells Cathedral School (2007)
Dikon Peschek Memorial Scholarship - Wantage Parish Church (2006)
'Helen May as Poppea and Julia Portela Piñón as Nerone are wonderful as the lovers. Both have exquisite voices and are utterly convincing in their erotic passion.' ★★★★ Jane Darcy, The Reviews Hub. 27,/07/2022. (2022)
'..the cast led superbly by Helen May (Poppea) and Julia Portela Piñón (Nerone). Monteverdi’s music..ebbs and flows, in generous, pulsating waves, culminating in the ecstatic Pur ti miro, Pur ti godo... The capacity audience, attentive despite heat and hard seats, cheered.' ★★★★ Fiona Maddocks, (The Observer). The week in classical, 30.07.22 (2022)
'Helen May as Emilie is once again superb, with the flexibility of tone and dramatic power that holds an audience rapt.' **** Plays to See, Owen Davies, (17/02/22) (2022)
'Helen May as Poppea and Julia Portela Piñón as Nerone are strong leads, and the singing of the whole cast is quite sublime.' ★★★★ J.C. London Living Large, 28/07/22 (2022)
'Helen May as Poppea reveals the calculating interior behind the seductive facade.' ★★★★ Inge Kjemtrup, The Stage, 28/07/22 (2022)
'Marcio da Silva’s Ensemble OrQuesta has done Poppea before. Indeed, I reviewed a performance at The Cockpit in February 2019 which impressed me very much – with Helen May as a splendid Nero. In this production.. she sings the title role and is even better as the lascivious and ambitious courtesan – her duets with Julia Portela Pinon as Nero are as close to deserving an 18 rating as any opera staging I have seen. The two of them provide a blend of voices that is well matched to the sometimes complex music and never better than when they sing the final pur ti miro duet.' ★★★★★ Owen Davies, Plays to See, 28.07.22 (2022)
'Subject to Love’s machinations, politically ambitious Poppea, played beautifully by soprano Helen May, catches the eye of the nefarious Emperor Nerone.. Despite their questionable motivations, the chemistry between Poppea and Nerone is palpable, professing their love with a blistering eroticism from which it is impossible to look away.' ★★★★ Rachel Wood, A Young(ish) Perspective. 28.07.22 (2022)
'the work is packed with dazzling arias, many sung by Alcina.... here superbly sung by Helen May.' **** Fiona Maddocks, The Guardian, 28/08/21, (2021)
'..special words of praise are due ..for Helen May as Climene – her expertise in the art of bringing baroque soprano roles to life grows with each outing.' **** Owen Davies, Plays to See, 14/06/21 (2021)
'A shout-out must go to Helen May (Climene), whom I’ve seen several times before..as a powerful Amastre in Cavalli's Xerse and as a cheekily exuberant Valletto in Monteverdi’s Poppea. She’s a hugely expressive singer, with velvety rich tones and the ability to convey the raw vulnerability of her character. That’s why she impressed me so much as Amastre, and her intensity worked equally well here, making Climene the character who interested me most.' **** The Idle Woman Blog, 09/06/21 (2021)
Leading the first of two casts was Helen May, a controlling but vulnerable Alcina, who despairingly trashed her desk during 'Ah! mio cor'. Open, vibrant and powerful, May's voice is not a conventional 'early music' instrument, but she can fine it down to a whisper and her singing carries a strong dramatic charge.' **** Yehuda Shapiro, Opera Magazine, November 2021. (2021)
'Special guest soprano, Helen May, sang the solos throughout the work with clarity and expression.' Anthony Gilsenan, Sussex Express, November 2021. (2021)
'The ‘Pie Jesu’ highlighted the stunningly beautiful voice of Helen May.' Anthony Gilenan, Sussex Express, November 2021. (2021)
'The soloist, Helen May, was just stunning' Juliet West, West Sussex County Times, November 2021. (2021)
'As Calisto, Helen May excels. Despite the comic chaos that sometimes surrounds her, she keeps the tragic heart of the opera beating with admirable passion'. La Calisto, Cockpit Theatre, January/February 2020. **** Plays to See. ' (2020)
'This HPO concert was outstanding. ...all the pieces gave rise to virtuoso performances. Helen May’s Caro Nome (Verdi) (was) beautifully rendered. And Dvorak’s 'Song to the Moon'… was simply entrancing.' Patrick Glass, Hastings Independent Press, November 2020 (2020)
'Vocally, all eleven singers impressed, as they did in their acting ability. It would be invidious to pick out specific singers in what was clearly a collaborative enterprise, but Helen May as Calisto.... deserve(s) special mention for (her) singing and acting ability.' La Calisto, Cockpit Theatre, January/February 2020. Early Music Reviews. (2020)
'As Nerone and Poppea, Helen May and Kathleen Nic Dhiarmada are superb. It is a real triumph to conjure up a passionate affair out of 400 year old words and music... May nicely catches the difficult balance between autocratic emperor and lovestruck suitor and, in a role that would probably have originally been sung by a castrato, she makes a convincing male hero.. The famous final duet between the two of them is spell binding.' Nerone, L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Ensemble Orquesta, Cockpit Theatre. Plays to See, February 2019. (2019)
Haydn Nelson Mass: ‘This piece is brimming with delicious chorus numbers and some true highlights for soprano soloist. Helen May does a supreme job with the soprano role.' Art scene in Wales, March 2019. (2019)
'Helen May... a mellifluous Diane..' Hippolyte et Aricie, Grimeborn Opera Festival, August 2019. Planet Hugill. (2019)
'Helen May’s finely sung Pamina seemed a far stronger character than the text sometimes gives her credit for, and her rendition of ‘Ach, ich fühl's’ was very effective and moving'. Mozart, Die Zauberflöte, Hastings Observer, June 2019. (2019)
'It’s difficult to pinpoint a standout performance as every person involved demonstrated a high level of vocal and acting skills. However, the scenes and duets between Poppea and Nerone must be mentioned for their intensity and passion, excellently delivered by Kathleen Nic Dhiarmada and Helen May'. Nerone, L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Ensemble Orquesta, Cockpit Theatre. thespyinthestalls.com, January 2019. (2019)
'The soloists were superb... The Crucifixus and O Salutaris were sung by soprano Helen May beautifully and faultlessly...' Rossini's Petite Messe Solenelle, Lark Reviews, July 2019. (2019)
'…the ever-impressive Helen May. May drew out the disguised princess’s anger, shame and angst to perfection. …She blazes out among the sober Persians…' Amastre, Xerse, Ensemble OrQuesta, Grimeborn Opera Festival, August 2018. The Idle Woman Blog, September 2018. (2018)
It's hard to single anyone out, but Helen May's Despina was outstanding... A name to watch.' Despina, Cosi fan tutte, Woodhouse Opera Festival. Surrey Gazette, September 2018. (2018)
'...Helen May was very effective in the small role of Mélisse in Act 4.' Owen Davies, Plays To See, 11/08/2017 (2017)
'…. there was some impressive singing, notably from Helen May (Diane) ….. demonstrating excellent fluidity in (her) ornaments, and .. having the rare ability to sing a proper trill…' Diane, Hippolyte et Aricie, Woodhouse Opera/Ensemble OrQuesta. Early Music Reviews, July 2017. (2017)
'Helen May was superb as one of the Three Little Maids at the last Simonsbath Festival’s @Opera Anywhere's production of The Mikado'. @Simonsbath Festival Twitter, June 2017. (2017)
'May, whose passionate acting leading up to the seduction scene with Damigella (Conner) is more than credible and convincing.. the almost acrobatic dance sequences among the lovers, employed throughout the opera, is also especially captivating.' Valletto, l’Incoronazione di Poppea, Hampstead Garden Opera, May 2017. Plays To See, June 2017. (2017)
'May's.... terrifically bolshy, punky, cocksure performance as Valletto... an amusing caricature of a roosterish teenage boy.' L'Incoronazione di Poppea, Hampstead Garden Opera, May 2017. The Idle Woman Blog, May 2017. (2017)
'Other singers that I liked from this cast were Ashley Adams, Phénice, Helen May, La Glorie/Mélisse, John Holland-Avery, Ubalde, and Matthew Morgan stepping aside from conducting to sing the role of Un Amant from on high.' Andrew Benson-Wilson, Early Music Reviews, 15/08/2017 (2017)
'Soprano Helen May filled the building with richly glowing tone, the top of the voice thrilling as it floated above the choir.' Dr Brian Hick, Lark Reviews, 05/11/2017 (2017)
'The audience will be able to welcome back the beautiful soprano voice of Helen May to sing with the choir..' Christopher Cormak, Rye News, 26/10/2017 (2017)
Helen is a lyric soprano recognised for the 'alluring' quality of her vocal tone, her 'arresting stage presence', and the intensity and conviction of her dramatic characterisation -'... awesomely dramatic ... real vulnerability as well as astonishing power.'
Helen holds a Master's in Vocal Performance with Distinction from the Royal Academy of Music where she was awarded a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital. She studied on the prestigious Preparatory Opera Course under the tutelage of Nuccia Focile, Iain Ledingham, and Philip Sunderland. Her studies were supported by the William Gibbs Trust and the Josephine Baker Trust.
In Helen's most recent role as Poppea in L'Incoronazione di Poppea, (July 2022), her voice was hailed as 'exquisite', her delivery was acclaimed for its 'vocal bravura', and her dramatic characterisation was admired for its 'blistering eroticism'. The production was OFFIE nominated for best opera performance and best opera production. Helen's performance as Emilie in Les Indes Galantes (February 2022), was praised as ‘superb, with the flexibility of tone and dramatic power that holds an audience rapt’ (see Reviews). Helen was OFFIE nominated for best opera performance for her role as Calisto in Cavalli’s La Calisto at The Cockpit in February 2020.
Helen has undertaken lead roles for Woodhouse Opera, Hampstead Garden Opera, Royal Academy Opera, Ensemble OrQuesta, Barefoot Opera, Bury Court Opera, London Opera Players, Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra, and Oxfordshire Contemporary Opera. Roles have included: Mimi (La bohème, Puccini); Mozart’s La Contessa, (Le Nozze di Figaro); Pamina (Die Zauberflöte); Despina (Cosi fan tutte); First Lady (The Magic Flute); and Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro); Emilie (Les Indes Galantes, Rameau); Climene (L’Egisto, Cavalli); Alcina (Alcina, Handel); Galatea (Acis and Galatea, Handel); Morgana (Alcina, Handel); Nerone and Valletto (L’Incoronazione di Poppea, Monteverdi); Diane (Hippolyte et Aricie, Rameau); Giannetta (L’elisir d’amore, Donizetti); Woodpecker (Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček); cover Jenůfa (Jenůfa, Janáček), Nimue (Merlin, premiere, Keith Beal); and cover Aurora (Aurora).
Recent oratorio highlights include Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem with Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra and Verdi Requiem with Grange Choral Society in Christ Church Priory. Future engagements include Mozart Requiem, Schubert Mass in G, and in recital, Alban Berg - Sieben Frühe Lieder.
Helen has benefitted from public masterclasses with renowned singers such as Nelly Miricioiu, Toby Spence, and Isobel Buchanan; she continues to receive private coaching with Nuccia Focile and Marcio da Silva.
Helen's undergraduate studies in music took place at Cardiff University, where she held the David Lloyd Vocal Scholarship, and was awarded the Geraint Evans Prize for outstanding recital performance. Helen is an alumna of Wells Cathedral School, one of the UK's five specialist music schools, where she was awarded a sixth-form place as a 'Special Provisions' musician.
Helen is a member of the Ensemble OrQuesta Company and is the Production Manager of Ensemble OrQuesta. She is the General Manager of Hastings Philharmonic Orchestra. Through both organisations Helen is active in developing a range of community based Outreach projects.
Helen has considerable experience in contemporary music projects, including creating the role of Nimue in the world premiere of Keith Beal's opera Merlin (Hastings Philharmonic); performing as soloist in the world premiere of Orlando Gough's Bayeux, which was commissioned for the 950th celebration of 1066; creating the role of Ruth in the world premiere of John Whittaker's chamber opera The Three Wayfarers (Opera Anywhere); performing solo vocals for the multi-awarding winning short science-fiction film APEX (Numinous Pictures); creating the role of Aisha in the world premiere of Roger Simmonds’ Lizzie Strata (Oxfordshire Contemporary Opera); and covering the role of Aurora in the world premiere of Noah Mosley's opera Aurora (Bury Court Opera). A recent recital performance included Libby Larsen's 2000 composition, Try Me, Good King (The last words of the Wives of Henry VIII).
Concert platform highlights include: Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem (Hastings Philharmonic); Verdi Requiem (Grange Choral); Raminsh Missa Brevis, (Billingshurst Choral Society); Poulenc Gloria (Grange Choral Society); Rossini Petite Messe Solennelle, Schubert Mass in G, and Holst Two Psalms (Hastings Philharmonic); Haydn 'Nelson Mass' (Cardiff University Symphony Chorus and Orchestra); Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mozart Requiem in D minor, Poulenc Stabet Mater and Górecki Symphony No. 3, 'Sorrowful Songs' (St. John's, Hyde Park); Vaughan Williams Serenade to Music and Mass in G minor, and Handel Dixit Dominus (Epiphoni Consort and HPO Singers); Handel Messiah (Ensemble OrQuesta Baroque, Haslemere Music Society et al); Mozart Coronation Mass (Cardiff University Chamber Choir and St John's Hyde Park), and Fauré Requiem (Billingshurst Choral Society and Cardiff University Chamber Choir). Forthcoming engagements include: Schubert Mass in G, and Mozart Requiem in D minor.
As a recitalist Helen was selected at the Royal Academy to join the Academy Voices, performing in a series of concerts under the auspices of the 'Transcending Borders' recital series at the Italian Cultural Institute, participating in an Austrian recital [II] and an Italian recital [VII]. Helen has also performed with a number of renowned chamber ensembles for competitions, BBC broadcasts, CD recordings, and concerts, in the UK and abroad. This season, Helen looks forward to a series of recitals with accompanist Lysianne Chen.
Contact Helen May
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