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Photo: Peter Mould

Helen May

Voice Type:

Soprano

Nationality:

British

Country:

United Kingdom

Languages (fluent):

English

Opera

Calisto (reprise)
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Ensemble OrQuesta - Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone
2020
Aurora (cover)
Aurora (Noah Mosley)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2019
Nerone (reprise)
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Ensemble OrQuesta - Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone
2019
Diane (reprise)
Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2019
Woodpecker
Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček)
Royal Academy Opera
2019
Pamina
Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
Ensemble OrQuesta / Hastings Philharmonic
2019
Alcina
Alcina (Handel)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2019
Tatyana
Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Royal Academy of Music Vocal Faculty Opera Scenes
2019
Mrs Page
Sir John in Love (Vaughan-Williams)
Royal Academy Opera Scenes
2019
Despina
Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart)
Woodhouse Opera Festival
2018
Amastre
Xerse (Cavalli)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2018
Galatea
Acis & Galatea (Handel)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2018
Nerone
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Woodhouse Opera & Ensemble OrQuesta
2017
La Gloire, Melisse, La Bergere (reprise)
Armide (J.B. Lully)
Grimeborn Opera Festival - Arcola Theatre
2017
Giannetta
L'elisir d'Amore (Donizetti)
Woodhouse Opera Festival
2017
Calisto
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Woodhouse Opera & Ensemble OrQuesta
2017
Valletto
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Hampstead Garden Opera
2017
Diane
Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Woodhouse Opera
2017
Calisto
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Barefoot Opera
2016
La Gloire, Melisse, La Bergere
Armide (J.B. Lully)
Woodhouse Opera
2016
Barbarina
Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2016
Morgana
Alcina (Handel)
The New London Opera Players
2015
1st Lady
The Magic Flute (Mozart)
Secret Opera
2015

Operetta/G&S

Edith
Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2018
Yum-Yum
The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2018
Peep Bo
The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2017

Contemporary Opera

Aurora (cover)
Aurora (Noah Mosley)
Bury Court Opera
2019
Nimue
Merlin (Keith Beal)
Hastings Philharmonic
2018
Aisha (Cleo Cover)
Lizzie Strata's Sex Strike (R. Simmonds & D. Willcock)
Stanton St John Opera
2016
Ruth
The Three Wayfarers (John Whittaker)
Opera Anywhere
2015

Chorus

1st Soprano
The Mikado (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2017
1st Soprano
H.M.S. Pinafore (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2017
1st Soprano
The Pirates of Penzance (Gilbert & Sullivan)
Opera Anywhere
2017
1st Soprano - Chorus
La Bohème (Puccini)
Woodhouse Opera Festival
2016
1st Soprano, semi chorus
Don Giovanni (Mozart)
Hampstead Garden Opera
2015
1st Soprano, semi chorus
L'elisir d'amore (Donizetti)
Barefoot Opera - Young Artists' Tour
2015
Soprano
Manon (Massenet)
Opera Coast
2015

Oratorio/Concerts

Soprano Soloist
Petite Messe Solennelle (Rossini)
Hastings Philharmonic Choir
2019
Soprano Soloist
Nelson Mass (Haydn)
Llandaff Cathedral
2019
Soprano Soloist
Requiem (Brahms)
St John's Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Dixit Dominus (Handel)
Epiphoni Consort, St Martin in the Fields
2017
Soprano Soloist
Mass in G (Franz Schubert)
Hastings Philharmonic
2017
Soprano Soloist
Two Psalms (Gustav Holst)
Hastings Philharmonic
2017
Soprano Soloist
A Ceremony of Carols (Britten)
Churchill Music Festival, Epiphoni Consort
2016
Soprano Soloist
Opera in the Woods/Museum/Library (Varied)
Opera Anywhere Recital Series
2015
Soprano, semi chorus
'Mankind' Play (Incidental Music) (Various)
The Ephiphoni Consort
2015
Soprano Soloist
NHS Artlink Programme - Solo Recital (& Radio) (Various)
Churchill Hopsital, Oxford
2013
Soprano Soloist
Messiah (Handel)
Haslemere Chorus & Orchestra
2012
Soprano Soloist
Coronation Mass in C (Mozart)
Cardiff University Chamber Choir & Orchestra
2012
Soprano Soloist
Requiem (Fauré)
Cardiff University Chamber Choir & Orchestra
2012

Choral

Soprano Soloist
Serenade to Music (Ralph Vaughan-Williams)
Epiphoni Consort & Quire Voices of Santa Barbara
2016
Soprano Soloist
Bayeux (Orlando Gough)
Root 1066 Choral Festival 'Clash'
2016
Soprano Soloist
The Ecstasies Above (Tarik O'Regan)
Tribal Chamber Choir, RTE ConTempo Quartet
2016
Soprano Semi-Chorus
Hymn to the Virgin (Britten)
Tribal Chamber Choir
2016
Soprano 6
Spem in Alium (Tallis)
Brandenburg Choral Fest. St Martin in the Fields
2016
1st Soprano, semi chorus
Elijah (Mendelsohn)
The Bach Choir, London
2015
1st Soprano, semi chorus
Belshazzar's Feast (Walton)
The Bach Choir, London
2015
Soprano Soloist
Trois Chansons: 'Quant J'ai Ouy Le Tamborin' (Debussy)
The Cantus Ensemble
2014
Soprano Soloist
8 Chansons Francaises: 'Margoton Va Ta L'lau' (Poulenc)
The Cantus Ensemble
2014
Soprano 4
Spem in Alium (Tallis)
The Tallis Scholars
2012

Film/TV

Soprano Vocalist
APEX - Independant Film Trailer (James Thomas - META)
Numinous Pictures
2018

Discography

Soprano Soloist
'Suddenly Clouds of Snow' - CD Recording (R.Simmonds)
Musica Viva, Oxford
2017
1st Soprano
'Sudden Light' - CD Recording (David Bednall)
Epiphoni Consort
2016
1st Soprano
'Footprints' - CD Recording (Will Todd)
Wellensian Consort
2014

Covered Covered & Performed Scenes Premiere of New Work Concert

'Donde lieta usci' - Puccini, La Bohème (informal recording 2018)

Independent 'Numinous Pictures' Film Trailer - Soundtrack. Composer James Thomas, Jan 2018.

'Mon père, il n'est pas.' - Poulenc, Dialogues de Carmélites' (informal recording 2018)

Onegin Final Scene Opening - Tchaikovsky, Eugene Onegin (informal recording 2019)

Acis & Galatea

Cunning Little Vixen

Grimeborn Opera Festival

Hampstead Garden Opera

Helen May January 2020

La Calisto

L'incoronazione di Poppea

The Cockpit Theatre

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 Scholar - Wantage Parish Church (2006)

'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)

Preparatory Opera Course
Royal Academy of Music
2019–2020
Master of Art (Voice)
Royal Academy of Music
2018–2020
Vocal LRSM
ABRSM
2014
Vocal Dip ABRSM
ABRSM
2013
BMus (Hons)
Cardiff University
2009–2012
Special Provisions Music Place
Wells Cathedral School
2007–2009

Helen is a London-based lyric soprano recognised for the 'mellifluous', 'alluring', and 'affecting' quality of her vocal tone, her 'arresting stage presence', and the conviction and intensity of her dramatic characterisation. She has extensive experience in contemporary music projects, having been privileged to create the role of Nimue in the world premiere of Keith Beal's opera Merlin, with Hastings Philharmonic; to perform as soloist in the world premiere of Orlando Gough's Bayeux, which was commissioned for the 950th celebration of 1066; to create the role of Ruth in the world premiere of John Whittaker's one-act chamber opera The Three Wayfarers (Opera Anywhere); to perform solo vocals for the multi-awarding winning short science-fiction film APEX, produced by Numinous Pictures; to create the role of Aisha in the world premiere of Roger Simmonds' Lizzie Strata (Oxfordshire Contemporary Opera); and to cover the role of Aurora in the world premiere of Noah Mosley's opera Aurora, for Bury Court Opera.
​​
Helen has received first-rate reviews for the diverse fully-staged opera roles that she has performed, including: Calisto (La Calisto, Cavalli, Cockpit Theatre); Alcina (Alcina, Handel, Ensemble OrQuesta); Diane (Hippolyte et Aricie, Rameau, Grimeborn Opera Festival); Woodpecker (The Cunning Little Vixen, Janáček, Royal Academy Opera); Pamina (Die Zauberflöte, Mozart, Hastings Philharmonic); Amastre (Xerse, Cavalli, Grimeborn Opera Festival); Despina (Cosi fan tutte, Mozart, Woodhouse Opera Festival); Nerone (L'incoronazione di Poppea, Monteverdi, Cockpit Theatre); Giannetta (L’elisir d'amore, Donizetti, Woodhouse Opera Festival); Barbarina (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Ensemble OrQuesta); Valletto (L'incoronazione di Poppea, Monte​verdi, Hampstead Garden Opera); Galatea (Acis and Galatea, Handel, Ensemble OrQuesta); Morgana (Alcina, Handel, Secret Opera); Diane (Hippolyte et Aricie, Rameau, Woodhouse Opera with Ensemble OrQuesta); First Lady (The Magic Flute, Mozart, London Opera Players); and Yum Yum (The Mikado, Gilbert & Sullivan, Opera Anywhere). Helen has recently performed with the Lambeth Orchestra and the Dunraven Chamber Choir, taking the roles of the Dew Fairy and Sandman for a concert performance of Humperdinck's Hansel and Gretel, and has performed the roles of Tatyana (Eugene Onegin, Tchaikovsky), and Mrs Page (Sir John in Love, Vaughan Williams) in scenes for Royal Academy Opera. Previously, in scenes for Barefoot Opera, Helen has performed Altisadora (Don Quixote, Purcell); Cleopatra (Guilio Cesare, Handel); Arsemene (Serse, Handel); Susanna (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart); Zerlina (Don Giovanni, Mozart); Dorabella (Cosi fan tutte, Mozart); and Frasquita (Carmen, Bizet).

As an oratorio soloist, Helen has performed: Poulenc's Gloria (Grange Choral Society); Schubert’s Mass in G & Holst’s Two Psalms (Hastings Philharmonic); Haydn's 'Nelson Mass' (Cardiff University Symphony Chorus and Chamber Orchestra); Brahms' Ein Deutsches Requiem, Mozart's Requiem in D minor and Poulenc's Stabat Mater (St. John's, Hyde Park); Vaughan Williams’ Serenade to Music and Handel's Dixit Dominus (Epiphoni Consort); Handel's Messiah (Haslemere Symphony Orchestra and Chorus); and Mozart’s Coronation Mass in C major and Fauré’s Requiem (Cardiff University Chamber Choir, and St John's, Hyde Park); and has performed with a number of renowned chamber ensembles for competitions, BBC broadcasts, CD recordings, and concerts, both in the UK and abroad (see Diary Archives).

Recent solo concert performances include: Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle with the Hastings Philharmonic Choir; and joining chosen Royal Academy of Music soloists in two recitals under the auspices of the 'Transcending Borders' concert series at the Italian Cultural Institute: in the Austrian recital [II] Helen performed Schoenberg's Vier Lieder, Opus 2 (sample audio), and in the Italian recital [VII] Helen performed the aria 'Ebben! ne andrò lontana' (Act I, La Wally, Catalani).

Future performances include: the role of Alice Ford (Falstaff, Verdi) in scenes for Royal Academy Opera; Górecki's Symphony No. 3, ('Sorrowful Songs') with St John's Hyde Park, and Haydn's The Creation, with Hastings Philharmonic. Helen has further exciting projects booked into her diary for summer 2020 and beyond, which she looks forward to announcing in due course.
​​
In September 2019 Helen commenced her second year of study for a Master of Arts in Performance at the Royal Academy of Music, under the tutelage of Nuccia Focile and Iain Ledingham​. She is one of just three sopranos selected this year to join the Academy's prestigious Preparatory Opera Course. Helen also benefits from private teaching with the Brazilian baritone and opera director, Marcio da Silva, and has been privileged to participate in masterclasses given by distinguished opera singers such as Isobel Buchanan and Toby Spence. She is grateful for the ongoing support of the William Gibbs Educational Trust and the Josephine Baker Trust. Helen's undergraduate studies in music took place at Cardiff University, where she held the David Lloyd Vocal Scholarship, was awarded the Geraint Evans Prize for outstanding recital performance, and performed regularly as a soloist with the Cardiff University Chamber Choir. Helen is an alumna of Wells Cathedral School, one of the UK's five specialist music schools, where she was awarded a 'special provisions' music place in the sixth form.

Contact Helen May

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