Acclaimed for her captivating performances filled with “technical assurance and emotional conviction” (Financial Times), South-African soprano ELZA VAN DEN HEEVER (soprano II, Una Poenitentium) is fast becoming one of the most sought-after sopranos of her generation. Van den Heever, who won the Seattle Opera’s second International Wagner Competition in August of 2008, made her European debut performances at the Frankfurt Opera as Giorgetta in Claus Guth’s production of Il tabarro, conducted by Nicola Luisotti, followed by Donna Anna in Don Giovanni. She also made her role debut as Elettra in Idomeneo with the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux. A recent graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program, van den Heever made her professional United States main stage debut with that company performing Donna Anna, conducted by Donald Runnicles, followed by Mary Custis Lee in the world premiere of Philip Glass’ Appomattox and the First Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte.
Van den Heever is confirmed for 2008/09 season appearances that begin with this week’s performances then continue on with the San Francisco Symphony (Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 with Michael Tilson Thomas conducting), Frankfurt Opera (Elisabetta in Don Carlo and Elsa in Lohengrin), Arizona Opera (Donna Anna), and the Santa Fe Opera (Donna Anna). Van den Heever has been contracted for performances through 2012 with some of the world’s leading opera companies and symphony orchestras, including San Francisco Opera, Frankfurt Opera, Munich’s Bayerische Staastoper, Opéra National de Paris, Theater an der Wien in Vienna, the Dallas Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the Vienna Symphony.
In addition to her opera repertoire, Elza van den Heever is also an active concert soloist and recitalist, having performed a wide array of works on three continents. She made her symphonic debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2006 in Morton Feldman’s I Met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg, conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, and returned later that season as a soloist in Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 – a performance that she will reprise in November 2008 and which will be recorded for SFS Media as part of the SFS’s Mahler Cycle. Other recent concert engagements include performances with the Ives Quartet as the soprano soloist in Schoenberg’s String Quartet No. 2; Mendelssohn’s Elijah with the Sacramento Choral Society; the world premiere of Richard Aldag’s Sappho Fragments with the contemporary chamber music ensemble Earplay; Clara in Beethoven’s Incidental Music from Egmont with Philharmonia Baroque; Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 with the Green Bay Symphony; and performances with the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa singing solos in the requiem masses of Duruflé and Fauré.
A native of Johannesburg, South Africa, van den Heever is an alumna of the Merola Opera Program and a graduate of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellowship Program. She currently studies with soprano Sheri Greenawald. As part of the Merola Opera Program, she sang the Female Chorus (The Rape of Lucretia) in 2004 and Mrs. Nolan (The Medium) in 2003. With San Francisco Opera Center, the soprano has appeared as Sa Femme (Milhaud’s Le Pauvre Matelot) and as Donna Anna in Lincoln Theater’s production of Don Giovanni in Napa Valley, CA. She has also appeared in the title role of Ariodante with San Francisco’s Pocket Opera and as Dido (Dido and Aeneas) and the title role of Serse with the Bay Area Summer Opera Theater Institute.
Van den Heever is a graduate of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and appeared in Conservatory productions as Tituba (The Crucible), Dido (Dido and Aeneas), the Muse and Niklause (The Tales of Hoffmann), the Witch (Hansel and Gretel), Leonora (Il trionfo dell’onore), Florence Pike (Albert Herring), Athamas (Semele), Ottavia (The Coronation of Poppea), and Mrs. Todd (The Old Maid and the Thief). She was a 2003 Pacific Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan National Council Auditions.