Elza van den Heever is set to make her highly anticipated debut as Elisabeth in Wagner’s Tannhäuser at The Metropolitan Opera this holiday season.
The cast features a lineup of acclaimed performers, including tenor Andreas Schager in the title role, mezzo-soprano Ekaterina Gubanova as Venus, baritone Christian Gerhaher as Wolfram, and bass Georg Zeppenfeld as Hermann. Maestro Sir Donald Runnicles will conduct the exemplary production by director Otto Schenk and set designer Günther Schneider-Siemssen, first seen at The Met in December of 1977.
This October, Elza van den Heever returns to the Wiener Staatsoper in one of her new signature roles: the Empress in Strauss’ Die Frau ohne Schatten. This comes on the heels of her resounding success in the role during the previous season’s performances at the Easter Festival Baden-Baden.
In 2020, Ms. van den Heever made her debut in this role, earning resounding acclaim while performing alongside the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra under the masterful baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin. Such was her artistry that Bachtrack wrote:
“The Empress presented no technical hurdles for soprano Elza van den Heever. She had the agility and lightness for her first scene, when the young bride is so insubstantial that “light passes through her as if she were made of glass”, and the fullness and shine required in the rest of the role. To soar in this high-lying music with such consistent quality is no mean feat, especially considering that Van den Heever was making her role debut during this mini-tour, of which Rotterdam was the third and last stop… In her emotional intensity, surrounded by the sonic theatre conjured up by Nézet-Séguin, she was as white-hot as her high notes.”
Originated for the Wiener Staatsoper in 2019, Vincent Huguet’s production of the distorted fairytale boasts an exquisite stage design meticulously crafted by Aurélie Maestre. The evocative atmosphere is further enhanced by the minimalist yet striking costume designs by Clémence Pernoud, while Bertrand Couderc’s masterful work in light and video design adds a mesmerizing visual dimension to the production.
Under the baton of Christian Thielemann, Ms. van den Heever graces the stage alongside a stellar ensemble, including Andreas Schager as the Emperor, Tanja Ariane Baumgartner as the Nurse, Michael Volle as Barak and Elena Pankratova as Barak’s wife, and Clemens Unterreiner as Spirit Messenger. Christian
This summer, Elza van den Heever graces the stage of Santa Fe Opera once again, taking on the role of Senta in Wagner’s masterpiece, The Flying Dutchman. Following her highly acclaimed role debut at the Metropolitan Opera this spring, Operawire stated:
“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.”
Adding an intriguing twist to the haunting folktale, the renowned director David Alden presents a fresh production that explores the modern relevance of the opera. Alden’s visionary approach highlights the pervasive influence of industrial capitalism and its profound consequences on the seas. Through this contemporary lens, audiences will embark on a captivating journey that delves into the captivating tale of the ghostly Dutchman and the transformative power of societal forces.
The stellar cast also includes Nicholas Brownlee as the Dutchman, Chad Shelton as Erik, Morris Robinson as Daland, Gretchen Krupp as Mary, and Bille Bruley as the Steersman. Thomas Guggeis will conduct the run through to August 15, while Alden Gatt is set to lead the final performance.
Elza van den Heever is set to make her role debut as Senta in Der Fliegende Holländer at The Metropolitan Opera this spring. Under the baton of Thomas Guggeis, this otherworldly production showcases the creative vision of French-Canadian Director Francois Girard, who originally crafted this immersive experience for the Festival d’opéra de Québec in 2019, followed by its success at the Met Opera in 2020. Seamlessly intertwining powerful storytelling, breathtaking visuals, and the evocative score of Wagner, this production promises an unforgettable journey. Joining Ms. van den Heever on stage are notable talents including Tomasz Konieczny as the Dutchman, Eric Cutler as Erik, Dmitry Belosselskiy as Daland, and Richard Trey Smagur as Steuermann.
On May 5 and 6, Elza van den Heever joins renowned conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin and the Philadelphia Orchestra at the Kimmel Center for a concert featuring works by Austrian composer Anton Bruckner.
The program will begin with Bruckner’s sacred choral work, “Christus factus est,” followed by the composer’s Symphony No. 9. The Ninth Symphony, considered one of Bruckner’s most significant works, was left unfinished at the time of his death in 1896. The orchestra will perform the piece as the composer intended, with Te Deum as its finale. Gustav Mahler, who treasured Bruckner’s score, described it as written “for the tongues of angels.”
Ms. van den Heever completes a thrilling quartet of soloists for these performances including mezzo-soprano Michelle DeYoung, tenor Sean Panikkar, and bass-baritone Ryan Speedo Green. They will also be joined by the Philadelphia Symphonic Choir, directed by Joe Miller.
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On April 26 and 27, Elza van den Heever is set to perform Verdi’s Requiem with Orchestre de Paris and the Chœur de l’Orchestre de Paris. The monumental score follows the tradition of Catholic liturgy, but it is also, in the words of Hans von Bülow, “An opera in ecclesiastical dress.” Under the baton of Jaap van Zweden, Ms. van den Heever will be joined by mezzo–soprano Aude Extrémo, tenor René Barbera, and bass Jean Teitgen as the soloists in the gripping work.
On April 1, 5, and 9, Elza van den Heever reprises the role of the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten at the 2023 Baden-Baden Easter Festival. She has previously sung the role in Paris and Rotterdam under Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and was set to perform it at The Metropolitan Opera in the 2020/21 season (which was unfortunately canceled due to COVID-19). Of her performance at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Diapason Magazine declared:
“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.”
[“Everything changes when the Empress appears. A silver timbre sewn with gold, with a high note as agile as the flight of a swallow, a curve of the phrase with feline suppleness, Elza van den Heever is the great triumph of the evening. The embodiment will need to be released, but for a first time, it is already an accomplishment, which imposes the artist among the great Strauss sopranos of today.”]
Mr. van den Heever shares the stage with a brilliant cast of dramatic voices, including Wolfgang Koch as Barak the Dyer, Miina-Liisa Värelä as the Dyer’s Wife, Clay Hilley as the Emperor, and Michaela Schuster as the Nurse. Kirill Petrenko conducts the incredible Berliner Philharmoniker in Lydia Steier’s striking new production of Strauss’ enigmatic fairytale.
The opera will also be presented in concert at Philharmonie Berlin on April 14. This performance will be live-streamed at 18:00 CET on Digital Concert Hall.
Photo: Jiyang Chen
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Elza van den Heever has been honored with the title of Chevalier by France’s Ordre des Arts et des Lettres. With origins attributed to the Order of Saint Michael from 1469, The Ordre des Arts et des Lettres is an order of France established in 1957 by the Minister of Culture that aims to recognize significant contributions to the arts, literature, or the propagation of these fields. Ms. van den Heever joins a select group of world-class artists who’ve received this great distinction including Tim Burton, Cate Blanchett, and Philip Glass.
Photo: Jiyang Chen
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