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Photo: Peter Mould

Helen May

Voice Type:

Soprano

Nationality:

British

Country:

United Kingdom

Languages (fluent):

English

Opera

Jenůfa
Jenůfa (Janáček)
Aylesbury Opera
2021
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
Nelson Mass (Haydn)
Llandaff Cathedral
2019
Soprano Soloist
Requiem (Brahms)
St John's Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Petite Messe Solennelle (Rossini)
Hastings Philharmonic Choir
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.

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 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 graduated from the prestigious Preparatory Opera Course at the Royal Academy of Music in September 2020 with a Masters with Distinction, having been awarded a DipRAM for an outstanding final recital. She studied under the tutelage of Nuccia Focile and Iain Ledingham, and benefitted from the guidance of Philip Sunderland. Her studies were generously supported by the William Gibbs Educational Trust and the Josephine Baker Trust.

Forthcoming roles for autumn 2020 and early 2021 include: Amastre (Xerse, Cavalli, Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone); Medea (Teseo, Handel, John McIntosh Theatre, Fulham); Countess Almaviva (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings); Alcina (Alcina, Handel, Arcola Theatre); and cover Jenůfa (Jenůfa, Janáček, Court Theatre, Tring).

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.

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).

As an oratorio soloist, Helen has performed: Poulenc's Gloria (Grange Choral Society); Rossini's Petite Messe Solennelle, Schubert's Mass in G, and 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, Poulenc's Stabet Mater and Górecki's Symphony No. 3, 'Sorrowful Songs' (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).

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.

Contact Helen May

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