“Lester's tonal variety was particularly impressive, imbuing Nerone with complexity. ”  Early Music Today

"...a stunning, velvety voice that revelled in Bellini's sweeping melodies." Fringe Opera

CN Lester is a mezzo-soprano specialising in male roles, early and contemporary musics, a researcher, and a composer. 

As an operatic soloist they’ve worked with Snape Maltings, Glass Ceiling Opera, Tete a Tete Festival, Hampstead Garden Opera, Hanbury & Groves, Opera Undone, Co-Opera, Silent Opera and ENO Mini Operas. They were Creative Director and mezzo for En Travesti Ensemble, and their research on castrati and travesti roles has been showcased by Classic FM.

With soprano Sarah Dacey, guitarist/lutenist Toby Carr, and harpist Aileen Henry they perform as Ursula’s Arrow – an early music ensemble devoted to promoting the works of women composers. Ursula's Arrow have most recently performed for the United Nation's He4She campaign.

Ursula's Arrow by Raphael Neal

They collaborate frequently with composers Alex Groves, James Cave, and Timothy Thornton, and have a particular interest in interactive and one-on-one works.


"Coupled with CN Lester's glowing composition - poised somewhere between disquiet and transcendence, a different tone for each attempt at resolution - the effect is both beautiful and humbling, which is only enhanced by the directness of Stephen's photographed gaze." Sabotage Reviews

CN studied composition with Jonathan Cole and Silvina Milstein. Their first opera, The Lion-Faced Man, for static image, mezzo-soprano and piano trio, was premiered at the 2015 Tete a Tete Festival. 

CN is a performance and performance practice doctoral student at MuGI, University of Huddersfield, focusing on questions of gender and reception in composition and performance, particularly in relation to the works and reception of Barbara Strozzi. They received their BMus from Kings College London, their MMus from Goldsmiths, and is a student of Alison Wells.

They work as a session and backing singer with Heritage Voices, providing vocals for everything from reworked drum and bass at the Festival Hall to film trailers and commercials.

"CN's charismatic performance captured the drama of these pieces perfectly. The vocal talent was unquestionable." Gay Times