Helen Lawrence


Helen Lawrence, whose grandparents came from Russia, was born in London and studied at the Royal Academy of Music and in Italy. She has divided her career with equal success between the operatic stage and the concert platform and is an accomplished recitalist.

As a guest artist at Covent Garden and E.N.O roles have inluded Santuzza, Woodbird in Siegfried, and First Lady in Die Zauberflote. Her many engagements overseas include Donna Anna at the Ludwigsburg Festival, Germany; recitals at the Jerusalem Festival with the Songmakers' Almanac and a tour of the Far East with the Royal Opera. She sings regularly in oratorio and concert with choral societies and music clubs all over the UK and abroad.

Repertoire as a soprano included most of the great Verdi and Mozart roles, such as Violetta (La traviata) Abigaille (Nabucco), Lady Macbeth, the Amelias of Simon Boccanegra and Ballo, the Leonoras of Il Trovatore and Forza del destino, Constanze, Vitellia, and Fiordiligi; also Puccini's Tosca, Leonore in Fidelio, and Cherubini's Medee (the first performance in London of the uncut original French score). Her singing of the title role in Donizetti's Lucrezia Borgia was described by William Mann of The Times as "brilliant, musicianly and grandly expressive".

Helen has also given many first performances of contemporary music with groups such as the SPNM and Lontano, working with composers such as John Tavener and David Lumsdaine. She has been particularly associated with the revival of interest in the music of the late Berthold Goldschmidt. In 1988 she sang the title role in the world premiere of his 1951 opera Beatrice Cenci in a concert performance broadcast by Radio 3 and filmed by BBC2 TV. She took the role of Amme Meme for the recent Decca recording of his 1935 opera Der Gewaltige Hahnrei, and also sang it in a concert performance at the Berlin Philharmonic Hall, which was broadcast both in Germany and on BBC Radio 3.

Other Radio and TV work includes the title role in Giordano's Fedora (BBC Radio London); Ginastera's Cantata para America Magica and a recital of Latin American songs for Radio 3; appearances on BBC TV's House of Eliott and ITV's Boon, and she has been featured on North Carolina Radio, USA.

Helen is now concentrating on the mezzo-soprano repertoire, and has added the roles of Azucena (Holland Park Theatre, London), Carmen, Orlovsky, Fidalma (Cimarosa's Secret Marriage, Spitalfields Opera) Nanya (in a music-drama version of the Tchaikovsky/ Pushkin Eugene Onegin for Nottingham Playhouse), Marcellina and Mistress Quickly (in Verdi's Falstaff) for Opera Players, to her extensive repertoire. Concerts have included performances of Elgar's Sea Pictures, Wagner's Wesendonck Lieder, Verdi's Requiem, Rossini's Stabat Mater Brahms's Alto Rhapsody and the Messiah.

Her most recent recording is a recital of Russian song devised for the British Pushkin Bicentennial Trust last year. It has been released on the Beulah label as a double CD album together with a re-issue of a recital of soprano operatic arias entitled Portrait of an Artist.