This fall, Elza van den Heever will make her highly anticipated debut in the title role of Richard Strauss’ Salome with Opéra national de Paris. A frequent interpreter of Strauss, she has garnered great acclaim in other leading roles of his including Chrysothemis in Elektra and the Empress in Die Frau ohne Schatten.
With a creative team that includes conductor Simone Young and director Lydia Steier in her company debut, this production leans into the sexual politics of the revolutionary tale. The thrilling cast will also feature Zoran Todorovich as Herodes, Karita Mattila as Herodias, Iain Paterson as Jochanaan, Tansel Akzeybek as Narraboth, Katharina Magiera as Herodias’ Page, Matthäus Schmidlechner as First Jew, Éric Huchet as Second Jew, Maciej Kwaśnikowski as Third Jew, Mathias Vidal as Fourth Jew, Sava Vemić as Fifth Jew, Luke Stoker as First Nazarene, Yiorgo Ioannou as Second Nazarene, Dominic Barberi as First Soldier, Bastian Thomas Kohl as Second Soldier, Alejandro Baliñas Vieites as a Cappadocian and Thomas Ricart as a slave.
On July 8, 11, 14, 17 and 20, Elza van den Heever will return to Oper Frankfurt as Suor Angelica and Giorgetta (Il tabarro) in Klaus Guth’s staging of Il trittico, Puccini’s three famous one-act operas. In 2008, Ms. van den Heever made her company debut as Giorgetta in the director’s then-new production of the operatic trio. She went on to perform a variety of roles as a member of the company within the next five years.
Performing opposite Ms. van den Heever in Suor Angelica will be Victória Pitts as La Zia Principessa, Barbara Zechmeister as La Badessa, Marvic Monreal as La suora zelatrice, Enikö Boros as La maestra delle novizie, Monika Buczkowska as Suor Genovieffa, Karolina Bengtsson as Suor Osmina, Nombulelo Yende as Suor Dolcina, Claudia Kamaris as Suora Infermiera, Michaela Schaudel and Anna-Katharina Hilpert as Two Almoner Sisters and Alketa Hoxha as A Novice.
Il tabarro will also star Željko Lučić as Michele, Stefano La Colla as Luigi, Katharina Magiera as Frugola, Michael McCown as Tinca and Alfred Reiter as Talpa, Jonathan Abernethy as Song Peddler, and Nombulelo Yende and Jaeil Kim as Two Lovers.
The comedic Gianni Schicchi will feature Željko Lučić in the title role, Kudaibergen Abildin as Rinuccio, Victória Pitts as Zita, Penny Sofroniadou as Lauretta, Jonathan Abernethy as Gherardo, Monika Buczkowska as Nella, Simeon Pauly/Anthony Ritts as Gheradino, Thomas Faulkner as Betto di Signa, Alfred Reiter as Simone, Liviu Holender as Marco, Katharina Magiera as Ciesca, Thomas Charrois as Spincelloccio, Dong Hyub Hong as Notaio.
This May, Elza van den Heever will return to the Opéra national de Paris to perform as Chrysothemis in Strauss’ Elektra. She has garnered great acclaim in this role of the meek and sensitive sister to Elektra, with Bachtrack noting:
“Elza van der Heever was a wonderful Chrysothemis, her voice warm and bronzed, with beautiful high notes sustained by a powerful middle range. I was impressed by her legato in the upper register, which helped in painting Chrysothemis as a tragic figure, a stark contrast to the weak, silly girl that she sometimes results.”
This lauded production by Robert Carsen will also star Christine Goerke as Elektra, Angela Denoke as Klytämnestra, Gerhard Siegel as Aegisth and Tómas Tomasson as Orest, with Semyon Bychkov and Case Scaglione sharing the conducting duties throughout the run.
On April 7, Elza van den Heever returns to Carnegie Hall for her great anticipated recital with pianist, Vlad Iftinca, featuring works by Alban Berg, Richard Wagner, Ludwig van Beethoven and Pieter De Villiers.
The program will begin with Berg’s Sieben frühe Lieder: a lush and colorful cycle of seven songs written between 1905 and 1908. Next, Ms. van den Heever and Mr. Iftinca will perform Seven Boerneef Songs by the South African composer and pianist, Pieter De Villiers. This set, written in the Afrikaans language, takes influences from the folk music of rural South Africa. Following this, the pair will perform Wagner’s Wesendonck Lieder, with text by Mathilde Wesendonck who happened to be the composer’s muse and the wife of his benefactor. The program will be rounded out with Beethoven’s stormy and dramatic scena, “Ah! perfido”, a thirteen-minute, sung monologue of a woman who has been scorned by her lover.
Photo: Jiyang Chen
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On March 11, 15, 19, 24 and 27, Elza van den Heever will make a thrilling return to The Metropolitan Opera with her debut in the title role of Handel’s Rodelinda.
Stephen Wadsworth’s direction and Harry Bicket’s conducting will once again join forces for these performances. Following the premiere of the production in 2004, The New York Times wrote “… But it’s the work itself, as staged by Stephen Wadsworth and conducted by Harry Bicket, both in their Met debuts, that should entice audiences to this landmark production, only the fourth Handel opera in the company’s history.”
Joining her on stage will be Paul Appleby as Grimoaldo, Sasha Cooke as Eduige, Anthony Roth Costanzo as Unulfo, Iestyn Davies as Bertarido and Adam Plachetka as Garibaldo.
Photo: Jiyang Chen
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The recipients of the seventeenth annual OPERA NEWS Awards are soprano Elza van den Heever, mezzo-soprano Denyce Graves, and baritone Quinn Kelsey will be celebrated at a black-tie gala on Sunday, April 3, 2022, at the Plaza Hotel in New York City, marking the Metropolitan Opera Guild’s return to live, in-person events.
J’Nai Bridges and Piotr Beczala will perform, and the gala will also feature appearances by Nina Stemme and Christian Van Horn.
Editor in Chief F. Paul Driscoll says: “Elza van den Heever’s performances are blessed with her shining, generous spirit and charged by her formidable sense of adventure; her glorious soprano and her fierce dramatic commitment have galvanized audiences throughout the world. Born in South Africa and trained in the United States, van den Heever has now taken her rightful place in the great opera houses of the world. She began the current season with a triumphant return to San Francisco Opera as Beethoven’s Leonore and the coming months will find her in Berlin, New York and Paris bringing her unique interpretive magic to the music of Wagner, Handel and Richard Strauss.”
Individual tickets to the OPERA NEWS Awards are available beginning at $1,000; individual Benefactor tickets are available at $1,250; and President’s Circle tickets at $1,500. In addition, Benefactor tables are available at $10,000; President’s Circle tables at $12,500; and Gold Circle tables at $15,000.
Proceeds from the gala and its live and silent auctions will benefit the education programs of the Metropolitan Opera Guild, which has published OPERA NEWS since 1936. A portion of each ticket purchase is tax deductible, as allowed by law. For event information, or to purchase tickets, please visit the Metropolitan Opera Guild website (www.metguild.org/awards) or call 212-769-7009.
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On December 13 and 14, Elza van den Heever will join the Staatskapelle Berlin and Staatsopernchor Berlin for a special concert at Staatsoper Berlin. Conducted by the illustrious Daniel Barenboim, the concert will also feature a star-studded group of singers including Elīna Garanča, Siyabonga Maqungo and Jan Martiník. Together with Ms. van den Heever, they will perform as the soloists in Bruckner’s celebratory Te Deum. Other exciting repertoire being performed by the orchestra and chorus includes Haydn’s Symphony No. 104 In D Major »London«, Luca Francesconi’s Dentro Non Ha Tempo and Schubert’s Gesang Der Geister Über Den Wassern, D 714.
Photo: Jiyang Chen
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On November 30, December 4 and 12, Elza van den Heever stars as Elsa of Brabant in Wagner’s Lohengrin at Staatsoper Berlin. She has garnered much acclaim for her portrayal of the role, having performed it at esteemed opera houses including Bayerische Staatsoper, Oper Frankfurt and Opernhaus Zürich.
This dark and thrilling production by Calixto Bieito, which originally premiered in a livestream by the company in 2020, will also feature other notable cast members including Gábor Bretz as Heinrich Der Vogler, Andreas Schager as Lohengrin, Martin Gantner as Friedrich Of Telramund, Ekaterina Gubanova as Ortrud and Adam Kutny as The King’s Herald. Thomas Guggeis conducts.