Madame Mao

Opera's Nixon in China a work writ large by Dominic P. Papatola

Pioneer Press

"But the energy in the Ordway spikes when Helen Todd takes the stage as Mao's wife, Chiang Ch'ing. There are no bad voices in the company, but when Todd's crystalline soprano rips into a politically charged aria, it's like she's grabbing each individual in the audience by the shoulders and giving them a good shake."

Now More Than Ever by Christy Desmith

City Pages, Minneapolis, MN

"The production's high point is Act Two, Scene Two: Madame Mao brings the Nixons to the Peking Opera. There, they see a ballet opera called The Red Detachment of Women, which Adams based on a real show produced by Madame Mao during the Cultural Revolution. Although Madame's opera spoon-fed nationalism, it was hugely popular in its day thanks to its catchy music and Technicolor spectacle. In this production, too, the choreography at the Peking Opera is expressive and fun; the music picks up a beat. (Here's a clever aside: Pat Nixon notices that the show's bad guy bears an uncanny resemblance to Kissinger. Humph!) Some folks might think it's a bummer that Nixon's energy spikes at a reference to communist propaganda, but this scene, truly, forgives the production all other moments of tedium—it's that good.

And it gets even better. Helen Todd, playing the Uzi-wielding Madame Mao, interrupts for an operatic ode to the communist social order; it's called "Whip her to death." Todd nails her aria! She unpacks high notes we thought this production didn't have! The rest of the cast isn't singing with such gusto, in part relative to Adams's sparse and sleepy arrangements, but Todd's voice--finally--has the chops to cut past the orchestra."

Listen to Madame Mao


Lucia

Tragic opera Brightened by Spectacular Singing

Peoria Times-Observer

"In the title role of Lucia, the heroine who is driven to violent insanity by tragic circumstances, soprano Helen Todd sang the 'Mad Scene' with thrilling dynamic range, ravishing ornamentation, perfect intonation, even in chromatic scales, and terrifying emotional intensity."


Dazzling Voices Drive Lucia

Peoria Journal Star

"Soprano Helen Todd, who plays Lucia, breathes life and spirit into this scene. When the famous flute solo sounds from the orchestra, Todd's Lucia suddenly turns in recognition, almost as if she could see the music dancing before her. What she thinks she sees - in her madness - is Edgardo coming to her, calling. "I hear his sweet voice," she says in Italian and smiles as she makes her way toward him - staggering a little as she walks; Lucia's mind is unhinged, unfettered. So is Todd's voice: Again and again, the flute sings and she answers, tracing wild vocal arabesques, descending and ascending, circling and darting, stretching upward and brushing the stratosphere."

Listen to Lucia


Aunt Lydia

The Handmaid's Tale at Canadian Opera Company

National Post

"Ruders has placed Aunt Lydia... in a long line of hysterical, sexually repressed operatic women who sing in the glass-shattering range of the Queen of the Night. Helen Todd did a superb job, her eyes gleaming with a fanaticism that was truly scary."

The Handmaid's Tale at Canadian Opera Company

The Varsity, Toronto, Ontario

"Helen Todd as Aunt Lydia also nailed her role, video clips of her indoctrinated pleading were convincing enough to convert anyone. Although the opera venue does not usually allow for scrutiny of close-up facial expressions, Todd's features oozed with conviction."

Eerie Echo of Present in Futurist Fantasy, Minnesota Opera

Opera News

"Elizabeth Bishop's warm, heartfelt colorings of Offred's sometimes jagged, sometimes lyrical internal monologues were offset by the riveting, high-lying vocal frenzies of Helen Todd as Aunt Lydia, the chief indoctrinator of the young Handmaids. Todd, a sweet-faced soprano, is physically unimposing, but she made it clear through her focused intensity that you wouldn't want to mess with her."

The Handmaid's Tale at Minnesota Opera

New York Times

"The striking exception is the role of the maniacal Aunt Lydia (the soprano Helen Todd), whose jagged coloratura flights make her seem a sci-fi cousin of Mozart's avenging Queen of the Night."

Listen to Aunt Lydia


Curley's Wife

"As opera,Of Mice and Men is as powerful as the novel"

The Arizona Republic

"...Soprano Helen Todd sang the pivotal role of Curley's Wife, the woman who inadvertently brings Lennie and his dreams tumbling down. Todd, who previously had sung Queen of the Night and Fiordiligi for Arizona Opera, had the strength and resilience to weather Floyd's difficult part and convey her character's shallowness without losing her humanity...."

Listen to Curley's Wife


Violetta

La Traviata

"...No "Traviata can succeed without a leading lady of superior talent. Helen Todd was much more than that. A young artist who has the potential to become a superstar, she was so dramatically effective that this turned into a performance of powerful impact, while its musical values were at a very high level. ....She had a richness of tone and ability to sing with eloquence..."

Opera NJ brings La Traviata to War Memorial

Trenton Times

"...Soprano Helen Todd was a truly beautiful courtesan, a welcome relief from the overaged and overstuffed singers who frequently find their way into this role. One could understand Alfredo's infatuation with this Violetta. She captured all of the pathos of the part, and her final act death scene was heartbreaking. She sang her big arias -"Ah, fors e lui"/"Sempre libera," and "Addio del passato"- with emotion-filled tone."

Listen to Violetta


Queen of the Night

The Magic Flute

Opera News

"Helen Todd's Queen of the Night is appropriately fierce as the evil mom, and her two big arias were stunningly sung in a voice that on opening night was crystalline in timbre and remarkably controlled."

Listen to Queen of the Night