Der Fliegende Holländer at the Metropolitan Opera

“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.”

Opera News

“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

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Die Frau ohne Schatten in Baden-Baden

“Was man aber hört bei der phänomenalen Elza van den Heever als Kaiserin, das ist eine Stimme, die „eines Vogels leichten Leib“ zu tragen scheint. Denn genau zu diesen Worten schwingt sich der Sopran der Sängerin auf zu einem perlend-prickelnden Triller auf dem hohen A, der nur als Sprungbrett dient zum noch höheren, dreigestrichenen D, von dem herab sie in graziler Kaskade, oktavab, quintauf, septab, quintauf, die Töne hüpfen lässt wie achtlos hingeworfene Saphire.

Am Ende der Oper wird sie eine Hundertschaft von Orchester und drei weitere, stimmstarke Solisten überstrahlen mit einem blitzblanken, aber gar nicht schrillen hohen C im Fortissimo wie eine Königin der Nacht mit Walküren-Booster. Eine phantastische, hinreißende Stimme!”

Frankfurter Allgemeine

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Salome role debut at Opéra Bastille

“Elza van den Heever magnifie le rôle titre par une présence scénique et vocale d’anthologie”

Le Monde

“Elza van den Heever met pourtant d’abord sa voix en conformité avec l’apparence de Salomé dans cette mise en scène : le fantôme de Ringu en blouse blanche. Mais c’est pour mieux déployer, tout au long de la soirée, sa voix et sa performance (alors même qu’elle effectue ici sa prise de rôle). Sa qualité de prosodie et de phrasé, et plus encore l’alliage d’un ancrage tragique au service de montées rayonnantes qu’elle nourrit et module à l’envi, en font incontestablement une grande Salomé de notre temps. Chaque phrase est à l’image de sa soirée : un crescendo expressif saisissant, alliant les douceurs du satin et du métal.

Elza van den Heever vient d’abord recevoir une assourdissante acclamation devant le rideau, avant qu’il se lève sur les saluts des autres chanteurs, applaudis crescendo.”


“Loin du conte oriental, cette nouvelle production est dominée par l’éblouissante personnalité vocale de Elza von Den Heever qui fait du personnage une héroïne d’un conte moderne et cruel en blanc, rouge et noir… Le jeu des genres opère ici à fond, porté par la puissance tellurique, la voix exceptionnelle et le souffle de Elza van den Heever qui fait de Salomé une héroïne à la puissance magnétique, imperturbable, fortifiée par sa douleur et hyper-sensible. Elle nous emporte.”

Artistik rezo

“Elza van den Heever wurde für ihr Rollendebüt zu Recht gefeiert – sie vereint Durchschlagskraft mit dosiert aufscheinender Leidenschaft und kommt ohne jeden Überdruck aus.”


“Her Salome seemed a tad more reserved than her Mozart or Handel roles: I got the distinct sense that she was pacing herself so as not to tire out by the final scene… van den Heever’s vocal caution paid off…”


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Trittico at Oper Frankfurt

“Elza van den Heever gibt zwei Frauen, die um ihr Kind trauern, aber zu unterschiedlichen Schlüssen gelangen. Ihre Giorgetta (Il tabarro) flieht in eine verbotene Liebschaft und als Suor Angelica (Suor Angelica) kann sie nur im Tod Frieden finden. In beiden Rollen besticht sie mit ihrer intensiven Darstellung und farbenreichen wie ausdrucksstarken Stimme.”

Kultur Freak

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Fidelio at the San Francisco Opera

“Russell Thomas and Elza Van Den Heever have well-matched heroic voices that exhibit great beauty of tone when buoyed up by Conductor Eun Sun Kim’s large, musically colorful orchestra. Van Den Heever’s “Abscheulicher, wo eilst du hin?” (“Monster, where are you hurrying”) showed her ability to sing in a florid style with splendid, long, Bel Canto phrases and a modicum of accurate coloratura. She easily encompassed the cold fury of the opening phrases and the warmth of the ensuing rainbow-clad dream. A fine actor as well, she communicated a wife’s love for her husband whenever she did not have to pretend to be a male prison guard.”

Broadway World

“Her flak jacket emblazoned with a giant SECURITY logo on the back, van den Heever was endearingly klutzy and vocally self-effacing in her male disguise. But when she launched her vow to save her imprisoned husband’s life, her lustrous soprano rang out in gorgeously ascendant arches.”

San Francisco Classical Voice

“Soprano Elza van den Heever, in what is effectively the title role of Leonore, and tenor Russell Thomas as her husband Florestan, rose to their respective star moments — a luminous account of the Act 1 aria “Komm, Hoffnung” for her…”

San Francisco Chronicle

“Soprano Elza van den Heever sang the heroine Leonore/Fidelio, making her long-awaited return to San Francisco. Van den Heever sang with ardor and luster, her voice tender and filled with longing in early scenes. When she sheds her disguise in Act two, revealing herself to be Leonore, her voice was full of passion and heroism. […]

By Act two, Van den Heever’s vocal and physical energy surged. She embodied Leonore’s determination to save Florestan in her actions and the power of her voice, which was sinuous and rich, as she sang of her courage to go to any lengths to free her beloved. When she drops the Fidelio disguise, she liberates both herself and Florestan from all layers of imprisonment, repudiating separation, injustice, and false accusation.”


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Wagnerians in Concert

“The program began with van den Heever in TANNHAUSER’s well known Dich, teure Halle,” an ode to a beloved hall (which certainly could describe the concert’s venue in Wiesbaden). The soprano’s voice has certainly blossomed since I first heard her in her role debut as Fidelio at Caramoor. But even though Wagner’s music is the definition of music that singers have to warm up for, she was a pleasure in Dich…” and I look forward to hearing her in the full role.”

Broadway World

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Frau ohne Schatten / Théâtre des Champs-Elysées

“Tout change quand paraît l’Impératrice. Timbre d’argent cousu d’or, avec un aigu agile comme le vol de l’hirondelle, un galbe de la phrase aux souplesses félines, Elza van den Heever est la grande triomphatrice de la soirée. L’incarnation aura besoin de se libérer, mais pour une première fois, c’est déjà un accomplissement, qui impose l’artiste parmi les grands sopranos Strauss d’aujourd’hui.”


“La soprano sud-africaine Elza van den Heever illumine le rôle de l’Impératrice d’un timbre rayonnant et doux, nullement gênée par les acrobaties de l’écriture au I er acte, et offre un chant orné à la fois aigu et sombre de soprano ”jugendlich dramatisch” (dramatique juvénile). Intéressante est la progression dans une partie ingrate, jusqu’à une identification sensible à l’acte III, avec des accents profonds à l’heure de l’ultime renoncement et du refus d’aller plus avant dans les plans de la rusée Nourrice.”

ON Magazine

“Elza van den Heever, dont c’est il nous semble la prise de rôle, effectue une entrée dans les éthers absolument splendide. Elle sautille en riant entre les embûches de Richard Strauss jusque dans les écarts redoutables du troisième acte. Elle aussi possède cette habilité à darder des aigus dès les attaques de phrase et à enfler la voix. Surtout le timbre conserve son brillant et sa rondeur dans toutes les circonstances.”

Forum Opéra

“Mais on retiendra surtout la prise de rôle d’Elza van den Heever en Impératrice… son gran soprano lyrique qui ne demande qu’à s’épanouir dans un aigu qu’elle saura rendre encore plus translucide. D’ores et déjà une éclatante victoire, qui a mis la salle à genous.”

Le Figaro

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Wozzeck/Metropolitan Opera

““Wozzeck” requires the central character to take hold of the drama and become its emotional core. In this performance, that honor belonged to Elza van den Heever’s Marie. The soprano managed to portray a character full of complexity and contradiction. She was gentle in her expressions toward her son, but in her confrontations with the Drum-Major, she was assertive and aggressive. She resisted him before seizing control of the situation, blasting out intense sound as she pushed him into the room. In a latter scene, she made the Drum-Major chase her. Her scenes with Wozzeck hinted at a combination of fastidiousness but also tenderness, while her shining moment at the start of the third Act, allowed her to express her deep fear and inner turmoil.

It was during this particular moment where van den Heever, after a number of scenes showcasing a bright and vibrant sound, suddenly pulled back and allowed for something far slenderer and more intimate. When she told him to “Fort!” her voice cut through like a jagged knife in one of the viscerally pained moments of the evening. And just like that, she pulled back to the tender vocalism that had commenced the scene, giving it a great sense of external and internal tension; she was afraid of what Wozzeck might due, but also about her conflicted emotions toward her son.”


“Singing with fervor and silvery tone, Ms. van den Heever played Marie as a young woman of allure and depth who, you could imagine, impulsively turns to Wozzeck in a weak moment. When she erupts in defiance, Ms. van den Heever sent phrases slicing through Berg’s orchestra, and you understood the character’s frustrated power. It wasn’t surprising that she is drawn to the alpha Drum Major (the tenor Christopher Ventris) when he passes by and flirts.”

The New York Times

“Elza van den Heever’s voluptuous, clarion soprano made Marie a vivid figure, full of desires and regrets. Her red dress, the one brightly colored garment among Greta Goiris’s otherwise olive drab or earth-toned costumes, proclaimed her vitality, though its sack-like cut avoided the sexiness cliché.”

Wall Street Journal

“Soprano Elsa van den Heever was Marie. Her shining voice was a lovely contrast to those of all the men, especially the accumulated falsetto passages that Berg gave them. She was as empty as Wozzeck, but in a different way—while forces pushed down on the soldier, they pulled Marie into their embrace.”

New York Classical Review

“Marie is handsomely handled by Elza van den Heever. The voice is solid… and she uses a raspy tone with Wozzeck in their second act confrontation which is both sneering and disrespectful.”


“La sensualité et la vie sont entrées avec les jambes nues et la robe rouge d’Elza van den Heever, présence animale et voix de feu. En cédant aux avances du Tambour-Major, Marie a scellé son destin et celui de son enfant, un grand pantin au visage d’effaré, marionnette créée par la Handspring Puppet Company.”

Le Monde

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