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Helen Medlyn


Helen Medlyn

Helen Medlyn MNZM’s Biography

Last Updated:
28/05/2024, 10:32 am
Mezzo soprano
Arts Foundation Laureate 2002
Helen Medlyn has the ability to move effortlessly between musical worlds – from cool jazz to classic opera – and to live life as an urban gypsy: a combination which sets her apart from the image of composed detachment many other opera divas foster.

A self-confessed itinerant who lives out of a suitcase and looks after friends' houses, Helen also travels seamlessly between roles, stages and nations. From playing Fräulein Schneider in the Auckland Theatre Company's season of Cabaret, to singing Messiah with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in the Sydney Opera House, to taking the 'trouser' role of Prince Orlovsky in the National Business Review New Zealand Opera season of Die Fledermaus, Helen does it all.

Helen was born in the United Kingdom, spent a year in Taranaki, and then grew up in Waitakere City's Henderson Valley. She began her dazzling career in 1982, dancing in the chorus of Evita during its New Zealand tour. By 1992, having worked at Auckland's Mercury Theatre for three years, her reputation had grown to the point that she came to the attention of Janice Webb, one of New Zealand's most prestigious vocal tutors, who remains Helen's singing teacher to this day.

Helen was made a Member of the Order (MNZM) in the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours for her services to the performing arts.

Helen is now established as a regular guest artist with opera companies and orchestras throughout Australasia, Asia, America and Britain . She is rated among this country's finest dramatic singers and gains critical acclaim for her distinctive performances.