Helen Donaldson’s career shines across musicals, opera and the concert stage. She received a Mo Award nomination for her debut role, in Australia, as Mabel in Essgee Entertainment’s smash hit production of The Pirates of Penzance, with the cast recording going platinum.
She went on to play two more G & S heroines, Yum Yum in The Mikado and Josephine in HMS Pinafore as well as portraying the delightfully dumb blonde virgin, Philia, in A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, appearing throughout Australia and New Zealand. She appears on the commercial video and audio releases of Pirates and HMS Pinafore through the ABC label.
Her Australian television credits include The Pirates of Penzance, HMS Pinafore (both also shown in the UK), Channel 7’s Carols by Candlelight and Mornings with Bert Newton.
Helen’s vocal awards include Opera Queensland’s Marie Watson Blake Award, The Royal Opera House Covent Garden Scholarship Competition Encouragement Award, The Australian Singing Competition ‘Most Outstanding New Talent’ and 2nd place in Brazil’s Bidu Sayao International Vocal Competition as well as its Popular Jury Award (as voted by the audience).
Helen credits much of her success to some wonderful teachers and mentors. She grew up in the central Queensland city of Rockhampton, studying the violin and piano but preferring to sing. She studied at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and after completing a Bachelor of Music and a Graduate Diploma in Opera she took up a scholarship to the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts. She left Hong Kong to join the original Australian cast of The Phantom of the Opera as a swing and Christine understudy.
She stepped into her first ‘grown up’ roles in The Merry Widow, starring as both Anna Glawari and Valencienne in two Australian productions of The Merry Widow, both winning her praise around the country.
Roles on the opera stage include Giunia in the Australian premiere of Lucio Silla, Norina in Don Pasquale for Opera Queensland and Nanetta in Falstaff for Opera Theater of St. Louis. On the concert stage, Helen has embraced music ranging from early music oratorios to Pops Orchestra concert repertoire.
She debuted her own show, The Sound of Julie Andrews, in 2008 at regional performing arts centres across Australia.
Helen lives near New York City with her husband and children, cats and chickens.
Some nice things people said about me
Donaldson captivates entirely with her star presence and the precision of her pure, sweet voice: Vilia is exquisitely done.
Helen Donaldson as the widow was a sheer delight. Her usual vivaciousness and beauty gave a freshness to the role and the sweet lyricism of her voice was perfect in the well-known Vilia.
And as the youngest and prettiest daughter, newcomer Helen Donaldson was the quintessential delicate Victorian heroine - with the sly spin of a 90s street-wise kid. Her voice is the sort of glorious, pure soprano that makes elderly men weep, and her youthful stage presence marks her as a star of the future.
On the vocal and visual evidence of this production's Mabel, Helen Donaldson is sheer star material - "Lovely to look at" - and even the excessive amplification that this Pirates trumpeted forth detected no flaw in the coloratura embellishment of her secure, warm soprano.
As for Helen Donaldson, who plays Frederic's girlfriend Mabel - divas of the world, beware! Watching this Royal Doulton figurine hand-wrestle John English to the ground, then being stunned into silence by the astonishing purity of her voice, leaves you convinced that Donaldson's talent will soon be known everywhere.
Donaldson is radiant as the alluring and pristine Josephine, her stone fruit complexion lighting up the stage wherever she strode. A clean and capable soprano voice compliments her performance well.
... a peach of a Josephine in Helen Donaldson, who threw out asides in comic Shakespearean manner and sent her soprano soaring into the stratosphere with delicate poise
As the lovers at the center of the tale Helen Donaldson and Simon Gallaher were a delight. Not only does Donaldson sing like a lark but her timing, inflection and spirited foil to Gallaher's Nanki-Poo make her Yum-Yum quite individual and charming
Helen Donaldson is an entirely delectable Yum-Yum, light on her feet and sweet of voice.
Helen Donaldson's Yum-Yum was exceedingly lovely to look at, and equally so to listen to.
Helen Donaldson as the delightfully unfaithful Valencienne was technically and tonally faultless - warm, intensely feminine and completely at ease with her material.
... Donaldson is completely at ease in this operatic score.
Essgee's regular leading lady Helen Donaldson makes a marvelously dumb blonde virgin.
She's a perfect match for new "juvenile lead", John Bowles, as dishy, dim Hero. Their sickly-sweet duet Lovely is a superb parody...
Hero and Philia's Lovely duet is a rich send-up of soft-centred romantic leads, exquisitely performed.
Donaldson was a doll of a Norina. She sang like an angel, her sweet silvery tones untarnished and floating effortlessly... Her impeccable timing and sparkling personality really sent the old Pasquale into a tailspin.
Helen Donaldson as Norina is an absolute delight.
It is good to have her back in a role where she demonstrates her versatility - shifting from demure novice to rampaging shrew in an instant, and making both convincing.
Some of my favorite clips
These are some clips from my work with Essgee Entertainment in Australia. Lots of zany Gilbert & Sullivan and a beautiful production of The Merry Widow by Lehar.
These clips are from my "Sound of Julie Andrews" show. I had great fun putting this together and taking it on the road with tenor David Kidd and musical director Craig Renshaw.
All live recordings!
Some of my favorite moments