Giselle Allen

Giselle Allen

“It’s hard to praise Giselle Allen enough – her Salome was an unstinting portrayal, physically and emotionally, but subtle enough to convey an initial grubby innocence transformed into monstrous sexual awakening”

Opera Now

Representation: General Management


Belfast born soprano Giselle Allen has been acknowledged as ‘a singing actress of the first order’.   Her repertoire encompasses Janacek, Wagner, Puccini, Strauss and Britten, and she has appeared at opera houses throughout the world, including La Monnaie, Canadian Opera and the Komische Oper in Berlin, as well as many of the UK companies and Belfast based Northern Ireland Opera where she made debuts as Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer, Salome and Tosca.   On the concert platform she has worked with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle and Sir Mark Elder.


Full Biography

Born in Belfast, Giselle Allen graduated from the University of Wales before pursuing her vocal studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and the Royal Academy of Music. A winner of numerous awards at both establishments, she has also achieved success in several competitions in the UK and Ireland, notably winning the Lady Nixon Prize, the Countess of Munster Scholarship and the Sybill Tutton Award.

Giselle has appeared at many of the major UK opera houses and festivals, including performances as Tatyana Eugene Onegin (Buxton Festival); Svatava Sarka (Wexford Festival Opera); Lisa Queen of Spades (Grange Park Opera / English National Opera); title role in Mascagni’s Iris and Countess The Marriage of Figaro (Opera Holland Park); Gerhilde Die Walküre, Martha The Passenger and Musetta La Bohème  (ENO); Miss Jessel The Turn of the Screw (Glyndebourne Festival); title role Jenůfa (Glyndebourne on Tour); Mimi La Bohème (Welsh National Opera). A regular visitor to Opera North, Giselle recently appeared in their semi-staged Ring Cycle production as Freia Das Rheingold, Gerhilde Die Walküre and Gutrune Götterdämmerung. Further roles for the company include Tatyana Eugene Onegin, Fox Cunning Little Vixen, Ellen Orford Peter Grimes (with Aldeburgh Festival)Musetta La Bohème, Marenka The Bartered Bride, Donna Elvira Don Giovanni and title roles Rusalka, Jenůfa and Kat’á Kabanová. For Northern Ireland Opera, she recently performed Miss Jessel and has appeared as Senta Der Fliegende Höllander, and in the title roles as Salome, Rusalka and Tosca.

Further afield, Giselle has performed with Opéra National de Lyon and Opernhaus Zürich as Miss Jessel, with Komische Oper Berlin as Ellen Orford, and made her debut with Canadian Opera Company as Marie Wozzeck, returning to sing Tatyana Eugene Onegin and Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream. She has also performed Parassia Sorochintsky Fair, title role Suor Angelica, title role Troilus and Cressida for the William Walton Foundation; Helena A Midsummer Night’s Dream at Singapore Lyric Theatre, Geraldine in Samuel Barber’s A Hand of Bridge in the ‘American Series’ at the London Barbican, Giulietta Les Contes d’Hoffmann for Central Festival Opera), Wellgunde Das Rheingold and Gutrune Götterdämmerung at the Covent Garden Festival, Salome in Massenet’s Herodiade at the Anna Livia International Opera Festival in Dublin, and concert performances of Vitellia La Clemenza di Tito in Malaga.

As a concert artist Giselle Allen has performed in many of the major concert halls in the UK and Ireland.  She has worked with conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Gennadi Rozhdestvensky, Sir David Willcocks and Marin Alsop, and has recorded with the Ulster Orchestra under Vernon Handley.  Also in demand as a recitalist, she has appeared for BBC Belfast, the Castleward Opera Series, and at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. Concert engagements have included Wagner’s Liebestod at St David’s Hall Cardiff, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Philharmonia Orchestra and City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass in Spain with Mark Elder and the Hallé Orchestra, Dvorak’s Te Deum with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, Salieri’s Prima la Musica poi le Parole and Kurt Weill’s Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny, both for the Edinburgh International Festival.

This season highlights include Tatyana in a concert version of Eugene Onegin (Bergen National Opera)  Giorgetta Il Tabarro (Opera North), Ellen Orford Peter Grimes (Bergen National Opera), a reprisal of the title role Tosca (Neville Holt) and a performance of Handel’s Messiah with the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra.

Promoters please note: if you wish to include this biography in a concert programme etc, please contact Hazard Chase to ensure that you receive the most up to date version.

Email: Evie Parker



Peter Grimes in Bergen

May 30th, 2017

James Gilchrist and Giselle Allen join the cast in Norway

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Wagner’s RING on BBC iPlayer

February 20th, 2017

The Opera North complete Ring cycle is now available to stream on BBC iPlayer

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The Ring Cycle – Wagner’s Epic Masterpiece

April 19th, 2016

Mark Le Brocq, Giselle Allen and Madeleine Shaw feature in Opera North’s semi-staged production of Wagner’s complete Ring Cycle.

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Impressive Hazard Chase line-up for ENO’s Queen of Spades

June 3rd, 2015

David Alden directs ENO’s first production of Tchaikovsky’s…

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Puccini TOSCA – Nevill Holt Opera

“Scarpia’s stand-off with Tosca in Act 2, on the other hand, was one of the most thrilling I think I have ever encountered  in the theatre, thanks to the brilliant psychological acting and splendid singing of Paul Carey Jones’s terrifying Scarpia and Giselle Allen’s vulnerable yet passionate Tosca, […] I don’t think I’ve ever been so shocked by the this scene before, and it was done with such conviction that the audience gasped. […] her blade-like high Cs and punchy chest voice – she almost has everything for Tosca, delivering a remarkably sustained and touching ‘Vissi d’arte’”
Hugh Canning, Opera Magazine (August 2017)

Britten PETER GRIMES – Bergen International Festival

”Soprano Giselle Allen was dramatically convincing as Ellen Orford”
Susan Nichalls, Opera Now, (July 2017)

Puccini IL TABARRO – Opera North

“Giselle Allen sang Giorgetta as if living every cruel twist of the drama for real. Everything this wonderful Belfast-born soprano tackles has depth, credibility and vocal stamina.”
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (October 2016)

“Giselle Allen’s Giorgetta smoulders with the circumscription of life “between the bed and the stove”.”
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian (October 2016)

“Giselle Allen and Ivan Inverardi make a raunchy Giorgetta and Michele.”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph (October 2016)

“In this piece what matters is how the simmering triangle of lust and jealousy between the grizzled old barge owner, his frustrated wife and the handsome young labourer boils into murder. Here it does so with gripping brutality, thanks to searing performances from the Italian veteran Ivan Inverardi, the mesmerisingly besotted Giselle Allen and the fast-rising British tenor David Butt Philip.”
Richard Morrison, The Times (October 2016)

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Wagner GOTTERDÄMMERUNG – Opera North

“Giselle Allen was a sumptuously voiced Gutrune who revealed a certain precociousness and sense of expectancy from the start, but who tinged her glee with guilt.”
Sam Smith, Music OMH (July 2016)

“Here Giselle Allen (a glorious Freia earlier this week) donned her third guise, this time as Gutrune. Passionate and awkward in equal measure, she discovered all the human warmth lacking in Foster-Williams’s exquisitely chilly and self-controlled Gunther.”
Alexandra Coghlan, The Arts Desk (July 2016)

R. Strauss SALOME – Northern Ireland Opera, Belfast

“But the evening belonged to Giselle Allen who is both a convincing actress and an outstanding singer”
Anne Hailes, Belfast Times (February 2015)

“Giselle Allen caught the contrasting innocence and evilness of Salome and her portrayal of the young girl in the final scene was mesmerising”
Rathcol, Belfast Telegraph (February 2015)

“It’s hard to praise Giselle Allen enough – her Salome was an unstinting portrayal, physically and emotionally, but subtle enough to convey an initial grubby innocence transformed into monstrous sexual awakening”
Robert Thicknesse, Opera Now (March 2015)

“Giselle Allen, singing her first Salome, was the other outstanding performer. Initially it was the creaminess of the longer, lyrical passages that struck me, but the voice has muscle too, and the portrayal culminated in a riveting final scene, where the subtlety of Allen’s acting and her total immersion in the character produced results that were at once disturbing yet also strangely affecting”
Terry Blain, Opera (April 2015)

“Allen … skilfully rode Salome’s ecstasy, flirtation and rage, and really delivered the final scene as the love song it should be”
Neil Fisher, The Times (February 2015)

“It all sounds terrific. Allen’s cries of passion have a disturbing animal rapture”
Tim Ashley, The Guardian (February 2015)

“Giselle Allen … sang the title role with vibrant tone and eager warmth”
Rupert Christiansen, The Telegraph (February 2015)

Britten PETER GRIMES – Aldeburgh Festival

“Giselle Allen’s performance as the widowed schoolmistress was astonishing for its heartfelt engagement and her sheer rightness for the part. Allen, who was so impressive as Miss Jessel in Glyndebourne’s 2011 staging of The Turn of the Screw, is prodigiously talented, and her dramatic soprano timbre – full-toned without being too heavy – is ideal for this repertoire. Her a cappella duet with Alan Oke’s Peter at the end of the ‘Prologue’ was electric.”
Mark Valencia, Classical Source (June 2013)


“Giselle Allen’s Senta is a star of the show, singing with gleaming warmth and secure top notes that cannot always be taken for granted in this role.”
John Allison, The Telegraph (Feb 2013)

“The evening’s hottest moments came from the Senta of soprano Giselle Allen, firm and ardent of tone, and thrilling in moments of stress and emphasis”
Michael Dervan, The Irish Times (Feb 2013)

“Giselle Allen is a powerful and involving Senta”
Hugo Shirley, The Telegraph (Feb 2013)

“Giselle Allen’s Senta strikes home on all fronts, her authoritative, nuanced and grandly shaped vocalism matching a dramatic performance of considerable intensity.”
George Hall, The Stage (Feb 2013)

Puccini LA BOHEME – Welsh National Opera

“As Mimi Giselle Allen was outstanding, even managing in the last act to overcome the difficulties of singing, whilst propped up with pillows on a mattress on the floor, to invest the phrases with all the pathos and emotion that is inherent in Puccini’s music. It was a good night for shares in Kleenex”
Robert J Farr, Seen & Heard International (22 Oct 2012)

“David Kempster’s robust Marcello…anchors the entire performance…Giselle Allen’s touching Mimì displays all the right qualities, her warm soprano contrasting effectively with that of Kate Valentine’s feisty Musetta.”
John Allison, The Telegraph (24 October 2012)

Weinberg THE PASSENGER – English National Opera

“If there is a star, though, it is Giselle Allen’s Marta. The Belfast-born singer, a stalwart with Opera North for a decade or more, emerges as a singing actress of the first order. Her shining soprano lends her character a spiritual dignity — at the close, her message that we should never forget the suffering of the victims of extremism vindicates ENO’s and Pountney’s decision to stage this uneven, but intermittently compelling, opera.”
Hugh Canning, The Sunday Times (Sept 2011)

“Giselle Allen’s Marta wrenches the heart.”
Andrew Clark, Financial times (Sept 2011)

“Giselle Allen, outstanding.”
Edward Seckerson, The Independent (Sept 2011)

“Marta – a stunning performance by Giselle Allen.”
Richard Morrison, The Times (Sept 2011)

“Giselle Allen, tackling the vocally unyielding role of tender-strong Marta for the first time, has a dramatically easier task, spirit-guided by the celesta which Weinberg uses to let her soul range free. She’s strong enough to sustain the big memorial song Weinberg sets to bittersweet verses in Act 2, and the Brittenish epilogue, Marta’s final quiet triumph many years later by the banks of a wide river, is as moving as it can be.”
David Nice, The Art Desk (Sept 2011)

“Giselle Allen’s remarkable performance as Marta captures the harrowing mental and physical degradation to which she was subjected.”
Barry Millington, Evening Standard (Sept 2011)

“The commitment of ENO’s cast, most particularly the tireless honestly of Breedt and Allen, is remarkable.”
Anna Picard, The Independent on Sunday (Sept 2011)

“…superbly sung by Giselle Allen…”
Fiona Maddocks, The Observer (Sept 2011)

Wagner DAS RHEINGOLD – Opera North

“Giselle Allen’s was glorious as Freia, her upper register ringing through the hall, captivating the audience right from her first hysterical entrance.”
Jane Shuttleworth, (June 2011)

Puccini TOSCA – Northern Ireland Opera

“Trying out her first Tosca, the Belfast-born Giselle Allen should sing many more based on this evidence: haughty but passionate, and sung with thrilling bite.”
Neil Fisher, The Times (4 April 2011)

Dvorak RUSALKA – Opera North

“Giselle Allen returned triumphantly to the title role.  Looking somehow more virginal, she transformed herself from teenage moon-worshiper to disenchanted woman, tender-toned in love, full-throated at the climaxes.  Let us now have her back in Leeds in something new:  she sounds ready for anything”
Martin Dreyer, Opera Magazine (August 2010)

“Giselle Allen’s luminescent performance in the title role. Allen is a young Opera North discovery whose creamy voice continues to grow more cultured by the year. She possesses an abundance of the lush tone required to sit easily with Dvorák’s symphonically styled score. There are occasions when the composer doesn’t seem to be writing for a dramatic character so much as an additional orchestral colour, but Allen maintains a magnetic presence despite being unable to move for most of the first act, and forbidden to sing (by vow of silence) for much of the second.”
Alfred Hickling, The Guardian (24 May 2010)

JENUFA – Glyndebourne on Tour

‘Giselle was in her acting-singing element here. Her portrayal of Jenufa’s Act 1 pleading with Števa to do the right thing was a masterclass of someone trapped and desperate; she defined Jenufa’s stature through the anguish of Act 2, with a remarkably intense ‘Salve regina’ of great beauty; and she guided us through Jenufa’s pile-up of reactions after the Kostelnièka’s confession in Act 3- disbelief, shock, forgiveness, all fast-forwarding her into a state of radiant self-possession- with extraordinary precision… Her singing, ranging from innocent softness to a keening rawness, completed the emotionally draining picture.’
Peter Reed, Opera Magazine (December 2009)

‘Giselle Allen makes a tough and resourceful Jenufa, sung with expansive power’
Rupert Christiansen, Telegraph (October 2009)

‘At first Giselle Allen, making her house debut as Jenufa, seems just too fragile. But, thrillingly, we watch her grow, slowly and compellingly, in vocal and inner strength, to find a spiritual energy for her final forgiveness.’
Hilary Finch, The Times (October 2009)

‘a performance of terrific emotional and vocal reach’
Edward Seckerson, Independent (October 2009)

KAT’Á KABANOVÁ – Opera North

“Giselle Allen has sung Rusalka, Tatyana, Ellen Orford and Jenufa for this company, and her Katya crowns those achievements, marking her emergence as a singing actress of the front rank.  This was a moving and perceptive portrayal…….She dominated the stage throughout, a poignant and tragic figure”
Michael Kennedy, Opera Magazine (June 2007)


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Artist Manager

Sue Nicholls (Cambridge)
01223 706023

Assistant Artist Manager

Evie Parker (Cambridge)
01223 706414