Violetta is not an easy role to cast. First there is the dramatic transformation from the frivolous courtesan of Act 1 to the dying consumptive at the end, and musically some very difficult notes to get through.Sarah Helsby Hughes proved absolutely ideal, especially with her most agile coloratura and real top E flat to boot. - La Traviata, New Devon Opera, Philip R Buttall, Plymouth Times
...a quite beautiful performance from Sarah Helsby Hughes...
Hay Fever, Behind the Arras
The director of this production, and also performing the title role in this opera, is Sarah Helsby Hughes. Sarah takes on the role with real gusto and energy. Sarah embraces Norma, heart and soul, and delivers what can only be described as a tour-de-force. She colours her notes in the most sublime and subtle tones, keeping the lyricism floating gently and effortlessly along even in the most darkest and dramatic passages in the libretto. The balance between light and dark, between hope and grief, are beautifully nuanced and Sarah keeps that rhythm flowing right until the poignant finale. This role requires the singer not only to sing but also to express the drama through acting, and once again Sarah rises to the task with aplomb. She mesmerises as a lover, a mother, and as a friend to the people she cares for, and throughout the duration of the opera she has a commanding presence that keeps the audience riveted on her every move and glance. She brings a heart-breaking quality to her scenes with the children, and even though we know the outcome, she makes the scene compelling and nerve-wracking.
Norma, This Is Birmingham
In particular Sarah Helsby Hughes (Tosca), Nicholas Sales (Cavaradossi) and Mark Saberton (Scarpia), not only acted with forceful passion, but commanded the Macrobert Arts Centre with their captivating and enthralling voices.
-Tosca, Brig News, Stirling
Here, as elsewhere, Sarah Helsby Hughes was excellent, in appearance as well as vocally.
- Tosca, Focus Opera, William Marshall, Huddersfield Examiner
Adina was sung by Sarah Helsby Hughes, a soprano of beautifully refined, almost effortless coloratura....whose graceful authority seemed free of the usual teenage fripperies.
- L'Elisir d'Amore, Heritage Opera, Roderick Dunnet, Opera Now
Magnificent...the serene and radiant contributions of Sarah Helsby Hughes
- Satyagraha, MAC Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post
The cast was strong in every area...Sarah Helsby Hughes a fearless and imperious Queen of the Night;
-The Magic Flute, Armonico Consort, Bridgewater Hall, Robert Beale,Manchester Evening Post
Special mention must be made of the bright attractive voice of Sarah Helsby Hughes
- Trade Winds Premiere, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, Joe Riley, Liverpool Echo
Despite this being a wonderful ensemble triumph, some names deserve mention: ...supremely, Sarah Helsby-Hughes's utterly disturbing, ultimately radiant Sara, played with a powerful erotic charge.
- Tobias and The Angel, CBTO, Christopher Morley, Birmingham Post.
perhaps most impressive of all was Sarah Helsby-Hughes as Sara, who combined clear projection and soaring tone quality with a dramatic presence which never faltered.
- Tobias and the Angel, CBTO, Sara Clethero, CCC review.
Despite its erratic plot, the Magic Flute contains some of opera's most memorable characters, particularly the guileless birdcatcher Papageno and the evil Queen of the Night (Sarah Helsby Hughes).Both roles were sung attractively.
... Helsby Hughes, a superb coloratura, overcame the notorious top F trills in her main arias with apparently effortless ease.
- The Magic Flute, Armonico Consort, The Helix, Dublin, Irish Sunday Business Post
Midland Opera's latest production takes Cav and Pag and relocates them to the world of Guys and Dolls. And it works. director Sarah Helsby Hughes fills the stage with a colourful, skilfully-marshalled parade of Little Italy streetlife: wiseguys, nuns, pizza chefs and kindly neighbourhood cops. It's no mean feat to get an amateur chorus to enter into character this vividly.
Richard Bratby, Birmingham Post, Oct 2016
The performance was incredible and directed exquisitely by Sarah Helsby Hughes. Given the fact that the Macrobert Arts Centre is a small space which is used for diverse performances, the entire production was put on beautifully and flawlessly
Caroline Malcolm, Brig Newspaper, Stirling, April 2015
Don't make the mistake of missing this. This is a seriously happy show from Midland Opera, and Sarah Helsby-Hughes' imaginative and lively direction of Donizetti's charming tale of love just needing a little nudge is delightful.
Chris Morley, Birmingham Post 2013
Heritage Opera's mind-blowing performance (of Don Giovanni) - it's actually a bawdy romp from beginning to end. Heritage Opera's eye-opening production was the finest production they've staged so far, and that's saying a lot.
Michael Nunn, Lanc Eve Post 2010
In the last year I have attended several lavish opera productions both in Berlin and Munich but none have been as enjoyable as this production. Where entertainment is concerned Heritage is a hidden gem of the British opera world. With Die Fledermaus Heritage Opera provided a delighted audience with sheer enjoyment.
Music Web International 2010
Heritage Opera's 'Grimeborn' production raises the roof - and a few eyebrows - at London's Arcola Theatre. This was a Figaro unlike any I'd seen before,..sung with aplomb by a cast of highly experienced singers. There were laugh-out-loud moments,combined with a stellar cast and spot-on direction, this was a Figaro that I'll remember for a long time to come.
Sarah Kirkup, Gramophone Magazine, 18th September 2012.
The Heritage Opera company keeps managing to stage productions which are so incredibly entertaining over and over again. This production of The Barber of Seville was a sheer delight.
Michael Cookson, Seen and Heard International.com 2013
MIDLAND Opera comes tantalisingly close to the highest professional standards in its current production of Mozart's Magic Flute, not flinching from the opera's bewildering mix of pantomime, pathos and enlightened symbolism. Director Sarah Helsby-Hughes has brought the action forward from a mystic neverland to the London of suffragettes and gentlemen's clubs and the concept works brilliantly.
Chris Morley, Birmingham Post Summer 2014