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. She was a ‘Rising Star’ of the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment 2017-2019 and a 2018 City Music Foundation Artist. In 2021, she joins Le Jardin des Voix academy with Les Arts Florissants, and the BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artists scheme.

In 2020, Helen premiered The Isolation Songbook with Michael Craddock and Alexander Soares, which is a set of 15 newly commissioned songs and duets written during lockdown as a musical response to the changing world in which we found ourselves.

In 2019/20, 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 and upcoming concert highlights include Handel’s Messiah with BBC NOW and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Bach’s Weihnachtoratorium with Casa da Musica, Judas Maccabaeus with the RIAS Kammerchor, Mendelssohn’s Lobgesang with the Royal Northern Sinfonia and Paul McCreesh, her debut at the Palau de la Musica in Barcelona for 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.

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

Handel Partenope (Rosmira), Les Arts Florissants, Thiré & Lucerne

(August 2021)

…the versatile British mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston as his golden-toned lover, the spurned but dignified Rosmira.

Fiona Maddocks, The Observer*****

Exceptional projection and beautiful temperament in the contralto Helen Charlston whose homogeneous timbre and a striking depth bring a beautiful authority to the perilous "Un'altra volta ancor".

Philippe Ramin, Bachtrack*****

Helen Charlston has a superb, solidly seated contralto voice. The role of Rosmira / Eurimène seems to be tailor-made for her, as her expressions are appropriate to the character.

Victoria Okada, Vivace Cantabile*****

Isolation Songbook, Delphian DCD34253

(March 2021)

For her debut album, Helen Charlston invited composers to ‘bear witness’ to the period of isolation. With a programme that is wide-reaching and runs the gamut of human emotion, this is a powerful momento for us all.

Freya Parr, BBC Music Magazine****

…a recital that’s hard to resist, at once fresh and profoundly familiar… Also striking is Stephen Bick’s Milton setting ‘On his Blindness’, its elegiac, Tallis-infused lyricism a showcase for the stern beauty of Charlston’s mezzo and her legato phrasing.

Alexandra Coghlan, Gramophone

Witty and touching in equal measure, this personal but deeply relatable lockdown project from a young husband-and-wife-to-be stemmed from Owain Park’s appropriately bitter-sweet setting of a poem which Charlston wrote for her fiancé to mark what would have been their wedding-day last year. Other highlights include Joshua Borin’s darkly funny Nature is Returning (sung with savage brilliance by Charlston)

Katherine Cooper, Presto Classical

​ 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****

Semele’s implacable rival Juno should steal the show whenever she appears. From her imperious opening entry to her rollicking final aria of triumph, her tone dripping with venomous glee, Helen Charlston does not miss a trick.


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

There are few calls for vocal display… ‘Above measure is the pleasure’, being a rare exception that allows the excellent Helen Charlston a brief opportunity to show her mettle in this regard… richly formidable Juno.

Opera Magazine

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****

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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