Artist Of The Week: Elza van den Heever

South African Soprano Brings Back Rare Opera In Vienna

By Francisco Salazar
(Credit: Frédérick Desmesure)

Elza van den Heever is one of the most dynamic sopranos of her generation. Her repertoire spans several periods from baroque to Mozart and Bel Canto as well as Wagner, Strauss, and Verdi. She is an acclaimed actress and is especially hailed for her sparkling high notes.

Throughout her her 2019-20 season the soprano will showcase three new roles from different time periods. The first of these will be Spontini’s “La Vestale.”

“La Vestale” is well-known as a diva vehicle, particularly for such singers as Maria Callas, Montserrat Caballé, Renata Scotto, and Leyla Gencer. However, in recent times, it has become somewhat of a repertory rarity. With the Theater an der Wien’s upcoming production, van den Heever will join the ranks of these great divas as a major exponent of the opera.

With van den Heever assuming the role of Julia in Spontini’s opera she will once again showcase her versatility in musical styles. As she noted in a recent interview with OperaWire, “In many ways, I am still trying to figure out where I belong. And slowly I am finding that certain things are where my voice wants to be… I have so many interests and it is so much fun to be able to sing so many things that I love.”

As she continues to find her path, van den Heever will also assume the role of Marie in Berg’s “Wozzeck” at the Metropolitan Opera for the first time; one of those performances will be broadcast in cinemas.

The soprano will also make her role debut as the Empress in R. Strauss’ “Die Frau ohne Schatten.” Finally, van den Heever will also be seen in “Lohengrin” at the Opernhaus Zürich.


For those not familiar with the South African’s voice, van den Heever has a recording of “Il Tabarro” alongside the late Johan Botha and a DVD of “Maria Stuarda” from the Metropolitan Opera.

Here she is in “Idomeneo” as Elettra from the Metropolitan Opera.

And here she is singing in “Maria Stuarda.”

Here is a clip from “Don Carlo.”


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