“As the eponymous Druid high priestess, Elza van den Heever’s Norma has it all: the power when needed, the nuanced intimacy elsewhere; coloratura of seemingly effortless fluidity; tenderness and vulnerability and scorching fury. Even at full tilt, the voice is never raw or edgy.”
Scott Cantrell – Dallas News
“The role of Norma requires a rare bird indeed—a dramatic coloratura soprano, meaning one who has Wagnerian heft and endurance combined with impeccable coloratura skills. TDO has just such a singer, the South African soprano Elza van den Heever. She triumphs in that demanding role in TDO’s glorious production at the Winspear Opera House.
Van den Heever started out as a mezzo and that darker quality is apparent in her current voice. As Norma, she demonstrates a mastery of the requirements for a perfect Bel Canto performance: evenness of range from top to bottom, clean coloratura work, the use of the messa di voce (a gradual crescendo followed by a matching diminuendo while holding a single note), great dynamic control, the ability to spin a long melody, the capability to blaze out in hot anger or quietly invoke tenderness and heartbreak, and control over her vibrato for dramatic effect.
Her first test comes early in the opera with the famous aria “Casta Diva.” Van den Heever’s singing is divine. She does all of this while maintaining the dignity expected of a Druid Priestess.”
Gregory Sullivan Isaacs – TheaterJones
“Her voice is a wonder of complexity: bold in top coloratura with an almost dusky lower range. Her soprano projects well even in softer dynamics and in her chest register, and she uses a wide range of vocal colors to evoke Norma’s emotional state, from despair to resolve, in true bel canto style. Hers is a voice of masterful versatility.”
J. Robin Coffelt – Dallas Classical Review
“The title role is a challenging one and South African-born soprano Elza van den Heever delivered the fireworks expected. Van den Heever barely took a breath while executing the embellishments, trills and rapid-fire runs that make Norma the epitome of the bel canto genre. Her vocal range was best showcased on Norma’s signature aria “Casta diva.” When performing the sad melody “Teneri figli’ (Tender Children), during which Norma contemplates murdering her children, Van den Heever adeptly conveyed Norma’s bipolar nature.”
Monica Smart – Dallas Observer
“Regarded as one of the most demanding roles in opera, the title role of Norma was perfectly executed by South African soprano Elza van den Heever. She delivers a performance nothing short of stunning, naturally conveying Norma’s power, anger, heartbreak, and fragility. Her performance in arias and duets is superb, but the female duets featuring Norma and Adalgisa were the highlights of the opera.”
Ekaterina Kouznetsova – Our New Monarch