Helen Charlston


"As a poised Lucinda, Helen Charlston’s distinctive mezzo stood out."

Rebecca Franks, The Times

"The highlight is Helen Charlston’s mesmerising delivery of ‘Leget Euch’."

Jonathan Freeman-Attwood, Gramophone

"Helen Charlston used her glinting tone to demonstrate the remarkable expressiveness of Telemann’s recitatives."

John Allison, The Telegraph

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Acclaimed for her musical interpretation, presence and “warmly distinctive tone” (The Telegraph), Helen Charlston is quickly cementing herself as a key performer in the next generation of British singers. Helen won first prize in the 2018 Handel Singing Competition and was a finalist in the Hurn Court Opera Competition, and the Grange Festival International Singing Competition.

Last season Helen made debuts with the Academy of Ancient Music, Cambridge Handel Opera Company, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra, the Concertgebouw Chamber Orchestra, joined Fretwork for a solo recital programme at Wigmore Hall, and continued her commissioning project of lute songs with duo partner Toby Carr. In 2020, Helen premiered the full role of Anna in the newly completed opera Blue Electric by Tom Smail.

Recent concert highlights include Handel’s Messiah with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Paul McCreesh, her debut at the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona performing Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Gabrieli Consort and Players, a worldwide tour of Handel’s Messiah with the Seattle Symphony, the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra and Adelaide Symphony Orchestra, performances as part of Barbican Sound Unbound 2019, and solo recitals at York Early Music Festival, London Handel Festival, Händel-festspiele Halle, Korčula Baroque Festival, Leicester International Music Festival and Fitzrovia Festival.

Operatic roles include Messaggera & Prosperpina L’Orfeo, First Witch Dido and Aeneas, Olga Eugene Onegin, Florence Pike Albert Herring, Ino Semele, Sara Tobias and the Angel, and Dinah Trouble in Tahiti. Helen created the role of Dido in the premiere of a new chamber opera based on Virgil’s writings about Dido: Dido is Dead, by young composer Rhiannon Randle.

This biography is for information only and should not be reproduced.

​ Bach St John Passion, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

Battersea Arts Centre (March 2021)

Helen Charlston took the most tragic aria of the piece Es ist Vollbracht (It is Finished) at a daringly slow pace, but thanks to her thrilling intense tone and expressive moulding of the line it paid off.

Ivan Hewett, The Telegraph*****

CD: Eccles Semele (Juno), Academy of Ancient Music

AAM012 (January 2021)

Richard Burkhard and Helen Charlston mine some divine comic scenes as the king of the gods and his jealous wife Juno.

Richard Fairman, Financial Times****

Some of the best moments fall to jealous, scheming Juno, whose scenes spring to life more readily than some of the others; the role is dispatched here with brilliant imperiousness by Helen Charlston.

Erica Jeal, The Guardian*****

…but it’s Helen Charlston’s Juno who gets both her man and the laurels by the end – deliciously ferocious in her musical vengeance.

Alexandra Coghlan, Limelight****​​

Dark-timbred mezzo Helen Charlston’s Juno flares magnificently, unafraid to sound ugly when furious.

BBC Music Magazine (Recording of the month)

Helen Charlston is impressive as Juno: her commanding ‘Somnus, arise’ and jaunty duet with Somnus, ‘Away let us haste’ are real highlights.

Colin Clarke, Rhinegold

Bach Christmas Oratorio, Gabrieli Consort & Players, St John’s Smith Square

December 2020

The mezzo Helen Charlston’s Virgin was sober in her joy – the dark beauty of her tone balanced by purity of line.

Alexandra Coghlan, iNews****

​ Eccles Semele (Juno), Cambridge Handel Opera Company

(November 2019)

All the vocal soloists were excellent... The mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston did full justice to the role of the furious Juno, full of spiteful passion, her coloratura passages proving her to be the real prima donna here.

Sandra Bowdler, Opera Magazine

​ An Elizabethan Christmas, Fretwork, Wigmore Hall

(December 2019)

Out of the orient crystal skies’ saw Helen Charlston, replacing a previously advertised Elin Manahan Thomas, reveal a clear voice that glistened, with its obvious strength never generating too thick a sound. The lines of the piece seemed so smooth that it felt rather more modern than it actually is, although the final utterance of ‘falantidingdido’ grounded it very much in its time. In ‘From Virgin’s womb’ of 1589, with words by Francis Kindlemarsh, the line through the word ‘Rejoice’ very much came to the fore, while ‘Lullaby’ of 1588 really showed off Charlston’s credentials as a mezzo-soprano. … For sheer beauty the highlight may well have been Charlston’s performance of the anonymous ‘Sweet was the song’…

Sam Smith, MusicOMH*****

Handel Venceslao (Lucinda), Opera Settecento

London Handel Festival (April 2019)

As a poised Lucinda, Helen Charlston’s distinctive mezzo stood out

Rebecca Franks, The Times

Helen Charlston as Lucinda revealed a mezzo-soprano whose fullness was complemented by a pleasing edge.

Sam Smith, MusicOMH

Helen Charlston expressed steadiness and determination that helped, at least at the musical level, to make sense of her motivations.

Curtis Rogers, Classical Source

Bach St John Passion, Polyphony, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

St John’s Smith Square (April 2019)

Helen Charlston has a remarkable technique and dignified presence, and her singing of ‘Von den Stricken meiner Sünden’ gave a fine example of both.

Melanie Eskenazi, MusicOMH

Bach Cantatas Nos 106 & 182, Amici Voices, CDA68275

(February 2019)

The highlight is Helen Charlston’s mesmerising delivery of ‘Leget Euch’… lovingly accompanied by the flautist Ashley Solomon.

Jonathan Freeman Attwood, Gramophone

Helen Charlston Opera Repertoire


Albert Herring (Florence Pike)
Rape of Lucretia (Bianca)


Trouble in Tahiti (Dinah)


Tobias and the Angel (Sara)


Semele (Juno)


Semele (Ino)
Venceslao (Lucinda)


Ballo delle ingrate (Venere)
Il ritorno d'ulisse in patria (Penelope)
L’Orfeo (Messaggera / Proserpina)


Dido and Aeneas (First Witch)

Rhiannon Randle

Dido is Dead (Dido) premiere


Eugene Onegin (Olga)

Tom Smail

Blue Electric (Anna) premiere

Helen Charlston Baroque Recital Material


Songs with Viol Consort:
Come to me grief forever
Lulla Lullaby
O God that guides the cheerful Sun Out of the Orient Crystal Skies
Thou, poet’s friend
With Lillies White
Wretched Albinius
Ye Sacred Muses (Tallis is dead)


Solo Cantatas (continuo only):
Ho Fuggito Amor
Nel Dolce Tempo
Stanco di pui soffrire

Solo Cantata (with obbligato instrument):
Mi Palpitar il Cor

Duet Cantatas:
Fronda Leggiera
Sono liete fortunato
Tanti Strali al sen mi schocchi
+ Various operatic arias


Lamento d’Arianna
Lettera Amoroso
Si dolce tormento
Voglio di vita uscir


Bess of Bedlam
Dido’s Lament
Fly Swift Ye Hours
I love and I must
If Music be the Food of Love
O Solitude
What a sad fate


Il Romeo
L’eraclito Amoroso


Ihr Völker Hort

Helen Charlston Song/Lieder Repertoire


Sieben frühe Lieder
Vier Gesänge (Op. 2)


Various, including:
An eine Äolsharfe
Die Mainnacht
Im Garten am Seegestade
O kühler Wald
Von ewiger Liebe


Charm of Lullabies
Various folksong settings


Sea Pictures (with orchestra and piano)


Arianna a Naxos


Various, including
Das Fischermadchen
Der Doppelgänger
Der Fischer
Des Fischers Liebesgluck
Die Forelle
Lachen und Weinen
Liebhaber in allen gestalten
Meeres Stille
Nacht und Träume


Frauenliebe und -leben (Op. 42)
Gedichte von Maria Stuart (op. 135)

Clara Schumann

Die gute Nacht, die ich sage dir
Die Stille Lotusblume
Liebst du um Schonheit


Again as before alond
Lullaby in the Storm
My genius, my angel, my friend
None by the Lonely Heart Serenade

Helen Charlston Oratorio Repertoire

J.S. Bach

B Minor Mass
Cantatas: BWV 4, 34, 40, 41, 43, 52, 54, 64, 82, 106, 109, 133, 134, 161, 170, 182
Christmas Oratorio (English and German)
Easter Oratorio
Magnificat in D
Mass in A major
Matthew Passion
St John Passion (English and German)


Symphony No. 9


Membra jesu nostri




Stabat Mater


Dixit Dominus Nisi Dominus
Israel in Egypt


Nelson Mass
Stabat Mater
St Nicholas Mass


Lobgesang (Symphony No. 2)


Coronation Mass
Solemn Vespers
Vesperae solennes de Dominica


Stabat Mater


Feel the Spirit


Missa para o Santissimo Natal


Les Noces


A Child of our Time



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