Acclaimed for her captivating performances filled with “technical assurance and emotional conviction” (Financial Times), South African soprano Elza van den Heever is fast becoming one of the most sought-after sopranos of her generation.
Recently appointed a resident artist by Frankfurt Opera Intendant Bernd Loebe, Ms. van den Heever will have role debuts as Vitellia in a revival of the Christoph Loy production of Mozart’s La Clemenza di Tito and as Anna Bolena in a concert version of Donizetti’s masterpiece led by conductor Giuliano Carella. She will also reprise her critically acclaimed portrayal of Elisabetta in David McVicar’s production of Verdi’s Don Carlo. Writing in the Frankfurt Rundschau about Ms. van den Heever’s Elisabetta, Arno Widman says…” Whoever loves voices, will love Elza van den Heever. Opera houses were built for voices like hers.” In past seasons, Ms. van den Heever has had great success in Frankfurt with performances of Lohengrin (Elsa) in a new production by Jens Daniel Herzog; Il Tabarro (Giorgetta) in a new production by Claus Guth; and Don Giovanni (Donna Anna) in the acclaimed Peter Mussbach production.
Ms van den Heever makes her debut appearances in Vienna portraying Agathe in Carl Maria von Weber’s Der Freischütz at Vienna’s Theater an der Wien in a new production by Oscar-winning director Stefan Ruzowitzky and Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 at the Konzerthaus, both under the baton of conductor Bertrand de Billy. She has performed Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Esa Pekka Salonen and the Los Angeles Philharmonic and in numerous performances with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, including a newly released recording and on the Orchestra’s 2006 European Tour. Her 2009-2010 performance calendar also includes United States appearances with the Dallas Opera (Fiordiligi) and with the National Symphony Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah.
Writing in Opera Magazine, critic and editor John Allison said…“Elza van den Heever showed again that she is developing into a major artist…” and her future bookings indicate that both critics and opera companies are noticing the talent of this fast-rising South African soprano. Ms. van den Heever has been contracted for performances through 2012 with some of the world’s leading opera companies and symphony orchestras. She will return to Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux, where she had a triumphant debut as Elettra in Mozart’s Idomeneo and will make debut appearances with opera companies such as Munich’s Bayerische Staastoper, Opéra National de Paris, the Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Metropolitan Opera. Over the coming seasons her repertoire will expand to include the title role in Alcina in addition to The Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, Armida in Rinaldo, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Desdemona in Otello, Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda, Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann, and Hélène in Les vêpres siciliennes.
Ms. van den Heever’s main stage career began with a successful portrayal of Donna Anna in San Francisco Opera’s 2007 Don Giovanni while still a member of the Company’s prestigious Adler Fellowship program. Donna Anna has since become a signature role for her; she has performed the role at Frankfurt Opera, Arizona Opera, and most recently at Santa Fe Opera where the Albuquerque Journal’s Dan Crafts described her performances as “...a revelation, an ideal Donna Anna. Full of power and passion, coupled with an immaculate technique, this is a voice one cannot soon forget.”
In her final year of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship, Elza van den Heever worked with Philip Glass and conductor Dennis Russell Davies in creating the role of Mary Custis Lee in the world première of Appomattox. While living in San Francisco, she made her symphonic debut with MTT and the San Francisco Symphony in 2006 performances of Morton Feldman’s I Met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg and also worked with acclaimed early music specialist Nicholas McGegan and his Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra in performances of Beethoven’s Incidental Music from Egmont. Her concert work also includes performances of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Green Bay Symphony and the Sun Valley Summer Symphony; and the requiem masses of Duruflé and Fauré in concerts with the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa.
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, Ms. van den Heever is an alumna of the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program; a winner of Seattle Opera’s second International Wagner Competition; and a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She resides in Frankfurt, Germany and Bordeaux, France and studies with soprano Sheri Greenawald.