Source: Helen Sherman
Terrific news to hear that former Tait Trust & YCAT Trust Awardee, HelenSherman has reached the finals of the Wigmore Hall International Song Competition which will be held on Tuesday 3 September at 6pm
Biography and Reviews
Australian mezzo-soprano Helen Sherman studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music where she completed a Bachelor of Music and Post Graduate Diploma in opera. Following her success in the 2007 Australian Singing Competition she was awarded a scholarship to take up studies at the Royal Northern College of Music where she was the first student to receive the International Artists Diploma in opera. In 2011 she represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World competition and in 2012 /13, Helen was awarded Australian Music Association prizes at the Royal Overseas League Music competition in London.
Of her recent performance as Aurelio for English Touring Opera’s L’Assedio di Calais, Richard Morrison of The Times wrote, ‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomize the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Recent engagements have included Dorabella (Cosi fan Tutte) for English Touring Opera at Fulham Palace, Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni) for Mid Wales Opera, Suzuki (Madama Butterfly) and Governess (The Queen of Spades) for Grange Park Opera. Operatic roles while at the RNCM included Hélène (Offenbach’s La Belle Hélène), Sesto (La Clemenza di Tito), Cyrus (Belshazzar), the latter in a co-production with Manchester Camerata, Varvava (Katya Kabanova), The Old Lady (Candide) and Prince Orlofsky (Die Fledermaus).
Over the last two years Helen’s concert appearances have included recitals at Wigmore Hall, Bridgewater Hall and City of London Festival, Performances at Cheltenham Festival including Janacek’s Diary of one who disappeared with Toby Spence and Britten’s Cabaret Songs with James Baillieu broadcast live on BBC Radio3, Handel’s Messiah at the Royal Albert Hall with Sir David Willcocks, a recital with Roger Vignoles for Cambridge Summer Festival, Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder with the Liverpool Mozart Orchestra and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Five Acts of Harry Patch with London Mozart Players at St John’s Smith Square. Helen has featured on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC Classic FM and on British Broadcasting Corporation’s BBC Radio3, and recorded with the Prague Radio Symphony Orchestra. Helen is a Samling Scholar.
Furture engagements include Nicklausse (The Tales of Hoffmann), Nero (The Coronation of Poppea) and a recital with Malcolm Martineau and Sir Thomas Allen at Wigmore Hall for the Samling Foundation.
Helen is very grateful for the dedicated support of The Young Classical Artists Trust, The Royal Overseas League, The Wingate Trust, The Tait Memorial Trust, Independent Opera, The Australian Music Foundation, The Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Trust, The Dame Joan Sutherland Society, Ars Musica Australis, The Opera and Arts Support Group Sydney, The Ian Potter Cultural Trust and the Simon Fletcher Charitable Trust.
Reviews.. ‘The impetuous Aurelio is a trouser role sung by a mezzo-soprano; the similitude affected by Helen Sherman to a reckless young man was striking enough that on first glance one was unsure in the dimness of the stage whether it actually was a man stalking the English camp. What most impressed about her performance was not success in making the illusion of gender almost work, however, but the brilliant coloratura singing she brought to the role. Flitting easily over the spectrum of lower register to higher with never a pause, she brought the coruscating vocal fireworks which are so typically Donizetti and so superbly realised in L’assedio to the fore. When she returns safely to her family, her opening aria ‘Al mio core oggetti amati’ underscored a radiant tone directed smoothly and with precision, culminating in impressively sustained, floating high notes.’ Opera Britannia / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
There is one genuine revelation in this production. The good looking youth caught stealing bread from the enemy camp during the overture turned out, to my surprise, to be the mezzo Helen Sherman playing Aurelio. I’ve never seen a more convincing boy. And she can sing too. Her voice is warm, flexible and attractively rounded, and she sang assertively and evenly from top to bottom. I can easily imagine her in the sort of parts Joyce DiDonato specialises in – bel canto, Handel, Mozart – anything that needs stupendous technical command and real character.’ Intermezzo / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘Donizetti’s fierce vocal demands are met fearlessly and thrillingly by the young Australian mezzo Helen Sherman, playing the volatile hero Aurelio. Her stridently masculine body language and formidable vocal power seem to epitomise the bloody-minded resistance of the besieged citizens.’ Richard Morrison / The Times / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / March 2013
‘Helen Sherman, who represented Australia at the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World Competition in 2011, was superb as Aurelio. Dressed in baggy clothes, she looked physically every inch a young man and her demeanour was at all times highly convincing even when being rather physical (such as climbing over the drain). But she also brought to the role a fine, rich mezzo-soprano voice which was nicely even across the (considerable) range and wonderfully flexible when it came to the fioritura. She sang the role with intelligence and bravura, using the fioritura musically and dramatically. I certainly hope that we shall hear more of her in this repertoire.’ Robert Hugill / A World of Classical Music / English Touring Opera / L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
’The singer that made this a knock-out was Australian mezzo Helen Sherman as Aurelio. Before she started singing, her convincing mannerisms and body language made me think she was a man, and she gave a stunning portrayal of the role. The defiant aria in Act I, and in Act II the duet with his wife, the rejection of the enemy, and the farewell aria to his baby were riveting. Helen Sherman’s mezzo voice is world class, and a glance at her website shows she is singing a huge range of different roles — I look forward to hearing her again.’ Mark Ronan / Theatre Reviews / English Touring Opera/ L’Assedio di Calais / Hackney Empire / March 2013
‘There is only one man in Elvira’s life – Giovanni himself – and Helen Sherman tears herself apart as she depicts the conflicting emotions – rage, frustration, loyalty, devotion, vengefulness – which reach boiling point in this most complex of Mozartian characters.’ Seen and heard international / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / October 2012
‘The women shine brightest: Helen Sherman’s Elvira …stylishly sung.’ The Guardian / Rian Evans / Mid Wales Opera / Don Giovanni / September 2012
“My eyes lit up when I saw that Australian Helen Sherman had chosen to open with a song by Henri Duparc – Au pays où se fait la guerre .. It was impossible not to be caught up in the pathos and sadness of the situation which Helen Sherman communicated so sensitively. She then descended from her tower (figuratively) to Britten’s Cabaret Songs, his settings of words by Auden.. These are witty songs, not easy by any means, and Helen Sherman delivered them with a twinkle in her eye. She was well supported by accompanist James Baillieu who also had a twinkle in his fingers.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Philip Langridge Mentoring Scheme/ July 2012
“Finally, a Handel aria sung as it should be, with clean but not over-articulated coloratura, excellent phrasing, plenty of expression, and the ornamentation placed at the service of the music, rather than just used as a tool to show off a voice…Sherman picked up the gauntlet and flung it right down again for the remaining competitors with this exuberant and triumphant interpretation.” An Unamplified Voice / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“My favourite female performer of the evening, was the Australian mezzo Helen Sherman. To start with, she is so elegant.. She walked firmly onto the stage, stood there in perfect control of her expressions and gestures, and delivered three difficult pieces with no obvious sense of strain. An audience can feel safe in her hands.” Intermezzo / Cardiff Singer of the World / June 2011
“Fresh from Cardiff Singer Of The World Helen Sherman seduced the boy and the audience with her bewitching rich mezzo-soprano.” This is Gloucestershire / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“Helen Sherman was utterly convincing in the part of the gypsy with her creamy mezzo-soprano voice and beguiling presence. The wistful song which followed, God all-powerful, God eternal.. was enough to melt any man’s heart.” Seen and heard international / Cheltenham Festival / Diary of one who disappeared / July 2011
“The college is fortunate to have two star mezzos for the trouser-roles of Sesto and Annio. The Australian Helen Sherman, fresh from her storming victory the previous week in the Elizabeth Harwood Memorial Prize, was a convincing Sesto, looking masculine and singing Parto, parto with lustrous tone…In their great scene together, Sesto and Tito raised the emotional temperature by several degrees.” Opera Magazine/ RNCM Opera / La Clemenza di Tito / April 2010
“Two performances were outstanding vocally and dramatically: the Australian Helen Sherman’s Helene could have come straight out of a Coward comedy and was sung with clear and flexible tone.” Opera Magazine / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / February 2010
“As the vain, scheming, eponymous heroine, Helen Sherman was magnificent. Her confidence, acting ability, timing and a stupendous voice, made her the ideal lead in the production and should set up her for many major roles as her career develops.” Musical Opinion / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène / January 2010
“I would like to point to Helen Sherman’s performance in the title role as one of poise, sophistication, subtlety and splendour, in both the singing and the comedy.” Metro / RNCM Opera / La Belle Hélène December 2009