“As Senta, the woman who returns the apparitional captain’s obsessive attention, Elza van den Heever sang with a ductile soprano. In “Senta’s Ballad,” she catapulted into high-lying phrases with strength and point and drew her voice into a slender thread for beautifully formed pianissimo high notes. As infatuation consumed her, van den Heever summoned the tonal amplitude to fill out Wagner’s portrait of a love that is annihilating in its totality.”
The New York Times
“Van den Heever offered an interpretation that worked for her. She was girlish and untroubled in the Ballad, singing it to the girls like a scary campfire story for kids, until she was overcome during the third verse. The duet with the Dutchman was a bit shy, a bit “Well, here I am,” but the finale was passionate… she sang the Ballad in the 1841 version, a tone higher than usual, to splendid effect.”
“As Senta, Elza van den Heever delivered everything one would want from a Wagnerian singer. Clear top notes; vocal mass and volume to ride the orchestral tidal waves; rich legato that gives this music its life; towering stage presence.
This was all on display during her famed Ballad. This aria is a monster for sopranos with phrases starting right in the passaggio on G5 only to descend right away. As such, a lot of sopranos sound trepidatious to start, especially during that opening stanza. Van den Heever was anything but. She jumped right into the torrent of the aria, her voice pointed and direct as she recounted the Dutchman’s tale, her singing growing over the chromatic orchestral churn. This passage is interrupted by a Più lento one but gets repeated three times, albeit with different text, and on each reiteration, van den Heever’s voice grew in intensity and force; it helped that she was closer to the stage each time, but her singing had more potency behind it. You could feel Senta becoming increasingly enraptured by the tale, possessed by it. Only during that third iteration, where she sings “er freite alle siben Jahr,” did her voice shift toward a pianissimo color, suddenly shifting the direction of the narrative ever so slightly.”
“Bass-baritone Tomasz Konieczny—a veteran Wagner singer—sang the cursed sailor and soprano Elza van den Heever was Senta, the young woman who wants to rescue him from his ghostly fate to haunt the fjords of Norway every seven years. Both were excellent… van den Heever was superb in her important Ballad of the Dutchman, the musical key to the drama in that it both explains his fate and her own place in resolving it. Her sound was lovely and her succinct phrasing and perfect intonation was a small thrill in itself, the feeling of care she put into the singing an expression of the character’s motivations.”
New York Classical Review
“Van den Heever enacted a convincingly girlish, impulsive Senta; her voice, most colorful at its top, dispatched the difficult high notes and triplets with aplomb (a real feat in the Ballad, bravely essayed up a tone in A minor).”