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Photo: Peter Mould

Helen May

Voice Type:

Soprano

Nationality:

British

Country:

United Kingdom

Languages (fluent):

English, Portuguese

Opera

Euridice, La Musica, Proserpina
L'Orfeo (Monteverdi)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2022
Emilie
Les Indes Galantes (Rameau)
Ensemble OrQuesta - Cockpit Theatre
2022
Jenůfa
Jenůfa (Janáček)
Aylesbury Opera - Court Theatre, Tring
2022
La Contessa
Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
HPO Ensemble - Ensemble OrQuesta
2021
Alcina
Alcina (Handel)
Théâtre Basse Passière, Normandy
2021
Alcina
Alcina (Handel)
Grimeborn Opera Festival, Arcola Theatre
2021
Climene
L'Egisto (Cavalli)
Hampstead Garden Opera
2021
Jenůfa
Jenůfa (Janáček)
Aylesbury Opera - Court Theatre, Tring
2020
Calisto (reprise)
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Ensemble OrQuesta - Cockpit Theatre
2020
Mrs Page
Sir John in Love (Vaughan-Williams)
Royal Academy Opera Scenes
2019
Tatyana
Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky)
Royal Academy Opera Scenes
2019
Aurora (cover)
Aurora (Noah Mosley)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2019
Diane (reprise)
Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2019
Alcina
Alcina (Handel)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2019
Pamina
Die Zauberflöte (Mozart)
Ensemble OrQuesta / Hastings Philharmonic
2019
Woodpecker
Cunning Little Vixen (Janáček)
Royal Academy Opera
2019
Nerone (reprise)
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Ensemble OrQuesta - Cockpit Theatre
2019
Amastre
Xerse (Cavalli)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2018
Despina
Cosi fan Tutte (Mozart)
Woodhouse Opera Festival
2018
Amastre
Xerse (Cavalli)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2018
Galatea
Acis & Galatea (Handel)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2018
Giannetta
L'elisir d'Amore (Donizetti)
Woodhouse Opera Festival
2017
La Gloire, Melisse, La Bergere (reprise)
Armide (J.B. Lully)
Grimeborn Opera Festival - Arcola Theatre
2017
Nerone
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Woodhouse Opera & Ensemble OrQuesta
2017
Valletto
L'incoronazione di Poppea (Monteverdi)
Hampstead Garden Opera
2017
Calisto
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Woodhouse Opera & Ensemble OrQuesta
2017
Diane
Hippolyte et Aricie (Rameau)
Woodhouse Opera
2017
Barbarina
Le Nozze di Figaro (Mozart)
Ensemble OrQuesta
2016
Calisto
La Calisto (Cavalli)
Barefoot Opera
2016
La Gloire, Melisse, La Bergere
Armide (J.B. Lully)
Woodhouse Opera
2016
Morgana
Alcina (Handel)
The New London Opera Players
2015
First 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 Moseley)
Grimeborn Opera Festival
2019
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)
Oxford Contemporary Opera
2016
Ruth
The Three Wayfarers (John Whittaker)
Opera Anywhere
2015

Early Music

Soprano Soloist
Various (Bach)
Valéik: Sixième Saison - Martigny, Switzerland
2021
Soprano Soloist
Various (Bach)
Valéik: Sixième Saison - Sion, Switzerland
2021

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
Requiem (Verdi)
Grange Choral Society
2022
Soprano Soloist
Ein Deutsches Requiem (Brahms)
Hastings Philharmonic Choir
2022
Mezzo-soprano soloist
Mass in G minor (Vaughan Williams)
HPO Singers, Ensemble OrQuesta Baroque
2021
Soprano Soloist
Christmas Oratorio - Expectans expectavi (Saint Saens)
Bexhill Choral Society
2021
Soprano Soloist
Messiah - Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion (Handel)
Bexhill Choral Society
2021
Soprano Soloist
Missa Brevis (Raminsh)
Billingshurst Choral Society
2021
Soprano Soloist
Requiem (Fauré)
Billingshurst Choral Society
2021
Soprano Soloist
Opera Gala (Various)
Battle Festival Proms
2021
Soprano Soloist
Gloria (Vivaldi)
Hastings Philharmonic Choir
2021
Soprano Soloist
Messiah (Handel)
HPO Singers, Ensemble OrQuesta Baroque
2020
Soprano Soloist
Symphony No 3 - 'Sorrowful Songs' (Górecki)
St John's, Hyde Park
2020
Soprano Soloist
Coronation Mass (Mozart)
St John's, Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Nelson Mass (Haydn)
Llandaff Cathedral
2019
Soprano Soloist
Ein Deutsches Requiem (Brahms)
St John's Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Requiem (​Fauré)
St John's, Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Missa brevis in ​B-flat major (Mozart)
St John's, Hyde Park
2019
Soprano Soloist
Petite Messe Solennelle (Rossini)
Hastings Philharmonic Choir
2019
Soprano Soloist
Mass in G (Franz Schubert)
Hastings Philharmonic
2017
Soprano Soloist
Two Psalms (Gustav Holst)
Hastings Philharmonic
2017
Soprano Soloist
Dixit Dominus (Handel)
Epiphoni Consort, St Martin in the Fields
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 Epiphoni 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 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)

Acis & Galatea

Alcina

Cunning Little Vixen

Grimeborn Opera Festival

Hampstead Garden Opera

Helen May January 2020

La Calisto

Le Nozze di Figaro

L'incoronazione di Poppea

The Cockpit Theatre

Théâtre Basse Passière

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 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)

​​'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)

DipRAM
Royal Academy of Music
2020
Preparatory Opera Course
Royal Academy of Music
2019–2020
Master of Art (Voice) - Distinction
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. She continues to receive private teaching with Nuccia Focile and Marcio da Silva.

Performances this year have included: Emilie (Les Indes Galantes, Rameau, Cockpit Theatre); Contessa (Le Nozze di Figaro, Mozart, Vinehall Theatre); Alcina (Alcina, Handel, Arcola Theatre & Théâtre Basse Passière); Amastre (Xerse, Cavalli, Cockpit Theatre), Climene (L'Egisto, Cavalli, Hampstead Garden Opera), Second Witch (Dido and Aeneas, Purcell), and a programme of Bach in Switzerland. Forthcoming roles in Helen's diary include: Euridice, (L'Orfeo, Monteverdi, Christ Church, St Leonards); cover Jenůfa (Jenůfa, Janáček, Court Theatre, Tring); Mimi (La bohème, Puccini, St Mary in the Castle, Hastings); and a return to the Grimeborn Opera Festival. Other engagements include: UK performances of the Verdi Requiem and Brahms Ein Deutsches Requiem and a public masterclass with Nelly Miricioiu.

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: the Raminsh Missa Brevis, (Billingshurst Choral Society); Poulenc Gloria (Grange Choral); 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).

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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