has always been extremely passionate about three things: singing, educating themselves and their community, and fighting for marginalized people and the Earth.
alvadorian-American nonbinary soprano, Helena Colindres (they/them) is a multi-faceted artist that
As a rising opera vocalist, they have performed roles such as Thérèse in Poulenc's Les Mamelles de Tirésias, the governess in Britten’s Turn of the Screw with Peabody Opera Theatre, Despina in Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte with Oberlin Opera Theatre, the title role in Pollock’s Earth to Kenzie with Peabody Opera Theatre, die Königin der Nacht in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte with Resonanz Opera, and most recently, the role of Winnie in Beecher's Sky on Swings with Opera Saratoga. They have also had the pleasure of performing as a concert soloist in large works such as Handel’s Messiah, Schubert’s Mass in G, and Larson’s A God in Disguise. They have been fortunate enough to have participated in master classes with world-renowned artists such as Kevin Murphy, Chanticleer, Evelyn Mandac, and twice for the bel canto legend, Marilyn Horne.
Helena enjoys putting on recitals as well because they feel as though recitals are one of the few times that they get to bring works by queer, trans, Black, Brown, indigenous, and femme composers into spaces where they have either been actively kept out of or have experienced great trauma in for simply existing. For their senior recital, they programmed a song cycle by Salvador Moreno, a Mexican composer that utilized texts that were in Nahuatl.
Helena felt a deep spiritual and emotional connection to the cycle for many reasons but especially because their ancestors, the Pipil of Kuskatan, a land now known as El Salvador spoke Nahuatl for centuries and so they saw this as an opportunity to honor their ancestors and the indigenous peoples who have managed to survive various genocidal practices since 1492, including the genocide that happen in in Kuskatan in 1932. For Helena music is more than just beautiful sounds and superb technique, it is about connecting with other living things, our ancestors, and expressing things that words alone simply cannot.
"Music is more than just beautiful sounds and superb technique, it is about connecting with other living things, our ancestors, and expressing thoughts and emotions that words alone simply cannot."
They have made it their goal in life to help pave the way for the next generations of Brown, Central American, low-income, pansexual, trans, disabled, and nonbinary femmes in the world of classical voice. They look forward to actively decolonizing the art form that is opera, in fun, refreshing, and exciting ways so that they may feel pride in their work. Community is extremely important to them which is why they look forward to reshaping an art form that will soon be beautiful, engaging, socially conscious, and validating of marginalized peoples experiences.
Helena is the child of two Salvadorian refugees who risked their lives to come to this country. They were living in constant fear of getting deported which silenced them and made it hard for them to take part in community organized protests but they made sure to teach Helena that they had power through their citizenship. This was when Helena made a vow to use their privelege to fight for all the people who are silenced every day.
They try to educate themselves and their communities on the injustices that people face all around the world and try to sign petitions and donate when they can. They have directly been involved in grass roots organizing and community building initiatives as well, especially in undocumented communities of color. They hope to one day use their operatic platform to bring these conversations into spaces that have purposefully not engaged in these topics, hold people accountable for their hatred, to make the art form more accessible for marginalized peoples, and to overall change the culture: doing away with fatphobia, racism, sexism, and classism in this industry.
Helena has already started doing this work within their voice studio. They have been teaching voice for about four years now and have loved every moment of it. They have students of many different genders, nationalities, ethnicities, economic backgrounds, educational backgrounds, genre interests, and ages because they believe that every single person deserves the chance to truly learn how to use their voices healthily. This is why they teach lessons on a sliding scale in which they have a conversation with their students about what is financially possible and are understanding if circumstances change.
"They hope to one day use their operatic platform to bring these conversations into spaces that have purposefully not engaged in these topics, hold people accountable for their hatred, to make the art form more accessible for marginalized peoples, and to overall change the culture: doing away with fatphobia, racism, sexism, and classism in this industry."
They have been singing non-classically since they were born, took part in classical music spaces through choirs as a child, and began taking private lessons in college. They have experienced things in the vocal studio that no student should ever have to face and they recognize that they must be the change that they wish to see in the vocal world.
They are always looking for ways to help their students find a sound that not only sounds effortless, but IS effortless! A sound that is resonant, consistent, flexible, and with even registers. Every lesson is student-centered because Helena recognizes that every voice is unique and beautiful in its own special way.
Helena utilizes anatomy and imagery to help one acquire different tools so that they can carry out the artistic choices they find appropriate. We never are looking for a “right” or “beautiful” sound because at the end of the day, beauty is entirely subjective and comes with many biases that are rooted in white supremacy and colonization.
This approach to music making has served Helena well in the voice world. They have been recognized for their voice in scholarship competitions, talent shows, and masterclasses in many different genres. Some of the most recent wins include first place with the Camille Coloratura Voice Competition as well as the Sylvia Green Voice Competition.
They have an MM in voice and vocal pedagogy from the Peabody Conservatory where they studied under the tutelage of Elizabeth Futral. They graduated from Oberlin Conservatory as a double degree student with a BM in Classical Voice Performance and a BA in Comparative American Studies with a concentration in Identity and Diversity in Spring of 2020. They also hold two associates degrees from City College of San Francisco, one being an AA in Latin American and Latinx studies, the other being an AS in Behavioral Sciences which they acquired in Spring of 2016.