Chrysothemis / Metropolitan Opera

“As Chrysothemis, Elza van den Heever was a revelation and arguably the scene-stealer of the night. Every time she opened her mouth, you just shifted all your attention and energy to her. It is a glorious sound that carries beautifully into the hall, no matter how demanding the orchestra is being in the moment. Every sound she uttered was ravishingly beautiful and she played up the legato singing that Strauss gives her character almost exclusively. There was arguably no passage more glorious than “Kinder will ich haben.” She stood up to the more wildly unpredictable Elektra throughout the night, never pulling away from a fight. It gave the character added dimension and a strong sense of internal conflict – she wants to help her sister and craves vengeance too, but she is not quite as extreme and won’t descend to the depths of murder to achieve those goals.”


“Ms. van den Heever’s melting, plaintive singing conveyed the character’s fragile emotions beautifully. But during intense confrontations with Elektra, Ms. van den Heever cut loose with steely outbursts that showed inner strength you don’t normally detect in this character, making her seem, however fleetingly, like Elektra’s soul mate.”

New York Times

“Speaking of fine, the South African soprano Elsa van den Heever is riveting as Chrysothemis. Her soprano is bright and brilliant, and her Chrysothemis, a woman who longs for a normal life amidst murder, captivity and a whole lot of crazy, is wrenching.”


“Another performance of major stature came from soprano Elza van den Heever as Chrysothemis, Elektra’s sister, who is not just a simpering foil for her sibling–as she is often portrayed–but a woman who wants more than just revenge for her father’s murder. In her soaring, lyric voice, we hear her longing for a richer life, a fuller life and the joy of finding that her brother, Orest, is still alive and ready to carry out the revenge of the House of Atreus. The scenes between van den Heever and Goerke worked beautifully.”

Broadway World

Comments Off on Chrysothemis / Metropolitan Opera

BWW Roundup: Stealing the Show

I couldn’t help but notice how other singers purloined the evening at two performances she shared with them. The first was in Mozart’s Idomeneo at the Met, where scene-stealer Elza van den Heever was busy at work as Elettra, bringing down the house four hours into the opera with D’Oreste, d’Aiace.

Broadway World

Comments Off on BWW Roundup: Stealing the Show

Leonora / Oper Frankfurt

“Elza van den Heever exhibited daring risks and impressive range as Leonora. Her first scene alongside Opera Studio member Alison King as Ines was a bit overly twee, but she went on to have fun with her fast “Di tale amor che dirsi” in Act I, and her character’s maturity developed dramatically by the time she hit the prison arias in Act III where she took moving chances, both vocally and in her acting. This made for an interesting character as well as one of the most convincing slow deaths by poisoning I’ve seen on a stage, her head lolling around as she sang her last breaths. The Luna-Leonora duet between van den Heever and Mulligan in Act IV was quite glorious.”

“Wenn Elza van den Heever in der Partie dieser großen Liebenden vom Himmel singt, katapultiert sie das Premierenpublikum in den siebten Opernhimmel. Die Sopranistin sorgt mit dem prachtvollen Bariton Brian Mulligans als Graf Luna für die musikalisch stärksten Momente in dieser Koproduktion mit dem Royal Opera House Covent Garden.”

Volker Milch, Allgemeine Zeitung

Comments Off on Leonora / Oper Frankfurt

Alcina / Santa Fe Opera

“Soprano Elza van den Heever infused the role of Alcina with dramatic commitment. She drew on an unusually broad dynamic spectrum, from the almost inaudible to the very loud; I found her voice to be piercing at high volume, to which she swelled not infrequently. Extreme manipulation of rhythm was also part of her arsenal. She stretched the phrases of her slow aria “Sì, son quella” like a taffy-maker, but it did prove affecting. She also managed her fast music well…”

James M. Keller – The New Mexican

“Van den Heever, who began her road to prominence with the San Francisco Opera, proved just as compelling as an angry, embittered drunk — unleashing long, forceful vocal phrases whose implacability belied her tottery stage business — as she had in the stately early phase of her ascendancy.”

Joshua Kosman – SFGate

“This kind of specialized singing also takes a great deal of stamina. The role of Alcina, in particular, calls for a series of arias that test every aspect of the singer’s talent. Elza van den Heever sang her da capo arias with runs, trills, added decorations and a wide tapestry of dramatic vocal colors.”

Maria Nockin – Broadway World

“The cast is led by powerful soprano Elza van den Heever, who plays a seductive Alcina. Though darkly unhinged, the enchantress shows signs of grief and appears almost sympathetic in her struggle to keep her lover.”

Eric Killelea – Santa Fe Reporter

“In the title role, van den Heever was subtle yet poised in her interpretation. Clad in a sleek black dress with a singular pink silk glove, van den Heever used her height to her advantage to intimidate the mortals and sucker them onto her island.”

Arya Roshanian – Operawire

“As an elegant Alcina driven to drink, Elza van den Heever sang with stirring beauty – the devotion with which she conveyed her love for Ruggierio in act one would not have been out of place as a Passion aria – but also commanded thrilling power (and an unnervingly diabolical cackle).”

Thomas May – Bachtrack

“Elza van den Heever was dignified and forbidding in the title role of the sorceress whose magical island is destroyed. The statuesque South African soprano seduced with the beauty of her voice, especially in impeccably tuned and agile melismas.”

Charles T. Downey – The Classical Review

“In the title role, Elza van den Heever was a convincing enchantress, pink glove and all. She sang with careful control, a beautiful pianissimo and long, expressive lines …”

Sharps and Flatirons

The role of Alcina, in particular, calls for a series of arias that test every aspect of the singer’s talent. Elza van den Heever sang her da capo arias with runs, trills, added decorations and a wide tapestry of dramatic vocal colors.

Maria Nockin – Broadway World

“Elza van den Heever, the alternate COC Norma last season, was a statuesque, regal Alcina. The staging for her was essentially static in Act One—only later did she participate in the shenanigans. Vocally the role suits her well, showing off her ability to spin a long line with seamless legato. Her best moment was the affectingly delivered “Ah! Mio cor,” where she held the stage beautifully in the very long aria. If Alcina is the serious one, her sister Morgana is over-the-top funny in this production, looking like someone straight out of the Folies Bergère cabaret hall. Kudos to soprano Anna Christy for being totally game—if anything she looked like she was having a terrific time. She certainly got the biggest laughs of the evening. Her light soprano suited the role, a few edgy moments at the top notwithstanding.”

Joseph So – Musical Toronto

“Elza van den Heever, the South African soprano who has sung leading roles at the Met and other major houses, was a tower of strength as the sorceress.”

Steve Cohen – DC Metro Theater Arts

Comments Off on Alcina / Santa Fe Opera

Norma / The Dallas Opera

“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

“Van den Heever demonstrated the control and agility needed for “Casta diva” and delivered a truly impressive overall performance. The South African soprano is a veteran of the opera stage…”

Geoffroy-Schwinden – Opera News

Comments Off on Norma / The Dallas Opera

Elettra / Metropolitan Opera

“With One Aria, Elza van den Heever Steals the Met’s Idomeneo … In van den Heever’s hands, nearly four hours into the work, Elettra–yes, the same Elektra, daughter of Agamemnon, to whom Richard Strauss devoted a whole opera–takes rejection and makes it into a thrill ride. While ”D’Oreste, d’Aiace” is not exactly a mad scene–it’s more about rage–it did manage to drive the audience wild. Van den Heever’s high-flying performance soared, cajoled, and cried “unfair!” while never forgetting that this was Mozart.

When van den Heever–who made such a huge impression as Elisabetta in the Met’s MARIA STUARDA, opposite both Joyce DiDonato and Sondra Radvanovsky–delivered this final aria (she also had earlier, less showy ones), it was a great moment to be in the house.”

Richard Sasanow, Broadway World

“Van den Heever was excellent as Elettra, rivaling Sierra for the beauty of her singing and relishing the sheer excitement of the character’s music. Where Ilia expresses various degrees of love, tenderness, and duty, Elettra is, well, Elettra, full of barely concealed violent passions and murderous rages. Van den Heever handled this entire range with her voice (although the impressive architecture of her dress was nearly a character in itself), and managed to be not only gripping but sympathetic. She burned with controlled intensity in her Act I aria “Tutte nel cor,” and the mad scene and collapse in Act III, when she realizes she has lost Idamante to Ilia, was stupendous (with the unintentionally comic touch of the audience cheering for her as a cohort of supernumeraries carried her catatonic body offstage).”

George Grella, New York Classical Review

“Vocally and dramatically, the role is a tough assignment. The soprano Elza van den Heever triumphs in it. This Elettra has a very fragile majesty. When she gets her way, she turns vulnerable, singing with sensuality and warmth. But when crossed, she erupts with unhinged intensity and steely sound, as in her furious final aria”

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

“Elza van den Heever lavishes broad bravado on the mean smirks of Elettra, and makes the quasi-devil sing like a quasi-goddess.”

Martin Bernheimer, Financial Times

“Elza van den Heever sang very creditably as Elettra and reveled in a role that—as directorially conceived—requires flamboyant camping and storming about. The crowd duly went wild for “D’Oreste, d’Ajace” (given, as always here, with the accompanied recit that is actually its alternate) … van den Heever deserved her cheers.”

David Shengold – Opera News

“Elettra is the Ying to Idomeneo’s Yang, her selfish nature echoing his and yet also matching his sense of guilt. After all, she murdered her mother and he is tasked with murdering his son. Finding someone that can create the same sense of darkness and yet similar empathy as he does is always a tall order for the interpreter of this role. Not for Elza van den Heever.

……van den Heever’s violent potential reached its apex in an unhinged “D’Oreste, D’Aiace,” the opera’s most famous aria. It was a vicious rendition performed with abrasive tone quality and forceful accents throughout, Elettra’s venom being spewed with every word that came from van den Heever’s rich voice. But the more slime she threw about the more out of control she was of her physical nature, the character slowly imploding until she collapsed to the ground, a few shudders and shakes emerging as if her body remained possessed by some demon. The moment was so dramatically effective that van den Heever won arguably the most enthusiastic ovation of the night.”

David Salazar, 

“At her side, superb in a sumptuous black and silver dress, Elza van den Heever puts on a dazzling Elettra, one of the few to sing her three arias with the same happiness. Moving from the panting rhythm of “tutte nel cor vi sento” to the melancholy of “Idol mio” before letting the voice speak to evoke the “Soavi zeffiri” is not easy, the soprano reaches it via a sovereign technique and a perfect control of her breath. In the third act, her timbre with the perfect arc and her high-pitched range allows her to offer a hallucinating “D’Oreste, Aiace”  which earned her a merited ovation from the Met audience.”

{A ses côtés, superbe dans une somptueuse robe noire et argent, Elza van den Heever campe une Elettra éblouissante, l’une des rares à chanter ses trois airs avec le même bonheur. Passer du rythme haletant de « tutte nel cor vi sento » à la mélancolie de « Idol mio » avant de laisser planer la voix pour évoquer les « Soavi zeffiri » n’est pas chose aisée, la soprano y parvient grâce à une technique souveraine et un parfait contrôle du souffle. Au troisième acte, son timbre au galbe parfait et ses aigus percutants lui permettent d’offrir un « D’Oreste, d’Aiace » hallucinant qui lui vaut une ovation méritée de la part du public du Met.}

Christian Peter,

Top 5 Performances of 2017: …When you add in Elettra portrayed by Elza van den Heever – who shame on me I was seeing sing for only the second time – the result was sensational and I wandered onto the streets of Manhattan thoroughly satisfied as the clock neared midnight.

Santosh Venkataraman, OperaWire

Comments Off on Elettra / Metropolitan Opera

White-Hot Aria, Engulfing Bass: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Moments

A Sudden Scene-Stealer – During the majestic conclusion of Mozart’s “Idomeneo,” all the crises are resolved. Neptune forgives Idomeneo, the king of Crete, for his rashness, then blesses the union of Idamante, the king’s son, and Ilia, a Trojan princess. But the fiery Elettra, who loves Idamante and must now cede him, has to be dealt with. The situation seems ripe for a burst of furious denunciation, a chilling moment. Guess again. Instead, Mozart gives Elettra a heated, scene-stealing aria, which the compelling soprano Elza van den Heever ran away with in the Metropolitan Opera’s revival.

Anthony Tommasini, The New York Times

Read our review of the Met Opera’s “Idomeneo.”

Comments Off on White-Hot Aria, Engulfing Bass: This Week’s 8 Best Classical Moments

Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) / Wiener Staatsoper

“At his side, however, Peter also had a few impressive friends. Elza van den Heever portrayed Ellen Orford, who was almost already bel canto, and who, with her full vocal commitment, had already made an impression in her moralizing speech to the village community. In the dispute with her stage partner she elevated herself to the pioneer of the assistant Peter with fine phrasing and a commanding top register.”

{An seiner Seite wussten aber auch Peters wenige Freunde zu beeindrucken. Elza van den Heever gab eine fast schon als belcantesk zu bezeichnende Ellen Orford, die nachhaltig mit vollem stimmlichem Einsatz schon in ihrer moralisierenden Ansprache an die Dorfgemeinschaft im ersten Aufzug Eindruck hinterließ. Im Streitgespräch mit ihrem Bühnenpartner steigerte sie sich zur Vorkämpferin des Gehilfen Peters mit feiner Phrasierung und souverän geführter Höhe.}


“Elza van den Heever conveys the teacher’s attempts to direct the coarse log into the marina, with conciseness in sound and gesture.”

{Die Versuche der Lehrerin wiederum, den groben Klotz in den Ehehafen zu lenken, vermittelt Elza van den Heever mit Prägnanz in Klang und Geste.}

Wiener Zeitung

Comments Off on Ellen Orford (Peter Grimes) / Wiener Staatsoper