South African soprano Elza van den Heever is currently in Toronto to sing one of her signature roles, Bellini’s Norma; shared with Sondra Radvanovsky, van den Heever sings the final four performances of Kevin Newbury’s Norma at the Canadian Opera Company. Like Elsa in Lohengrin and the Elisabettas of Maria Stuarda and Don Carlo, Norma is one of the enviable roles which fill van den Heever’s calendar.
She chats about Bellini’s iconic role, singing smart, and her favourite spots in Toronto.
WHAT KIND OF WOMAN IS NORMA? WHAT QUALITIES DO YOU THINK YOU AND HER SHARE?
Norma is a woman driven by emotion – deep emotion and feeling. She is bound by duty but also a free spirit. She is impulsive, vindictive and also quite innocent. Her “irrational” behaviour reminds me of a teenager in love – my personal view is that she is still very young. She gets completely caught in a situation where she is living two lives … a “professional” life and a “private” life and it’s extremely hard on her as you can imagine. I think her love for this man (who betrayed her), for whom she sacrificed everything, messed with her head. Due to her inherent opulent capacity for love and hate, she is tormented into a bit of a split personality. This is evident as she oscillates so rapidly between thoughts and emotion, especially in her recitatives.
I think I share her “crazy” emotional side – I can get quite irrational and over emphatic.
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