ELZA VAN DEN HEEVER – San Francisco Opera Announces New Prima Donna For All Performances of “Don Giovanni”

Soprano Hope Briggs gets the gate from General Director David Gockley

Hope Briggs

By Seán Martinfield
Sentinel Fine Arts Critic
Copyright © 2007 San Francisco Sentinel

SAN FRANCISCO, June 1, 2007 – After the final dress rehearsal for DON GIOVANNI San Francisco Opera General Director David Gockley, in consultation with Music Director Donald Runnicles and members of the artistic staff, made the decision that soprano Hope Briggs was not ultimately suited for the role of “Donna Anna” in this production.

Insert Photo: DON GIOVANNI – San Francisco Opera, 2007

Soprano Elza van den Heever, a member of San Francisco Opera’s Adler Fellow Program, will replace Ms. Briggs in the role for all performances of Don Giovanni, which opens June 2 at the War Memorial Opera House. Ms. van den Heever has performed the role of “Donna Anna” at the Lincoln Theater in Napa Valley and is contracted to sing the role with a major American opera company in a future season.

Elza van den Heever, Soprano

Adler Fellow Elza van den Heever makes her San Francisco Opera debut this season. She participated in the Merola Opera Program in 2003 and 2004 singing the roles of “Mrs. Nolan” in Menotti’s THE MEDIUM and the Female Chorus in Britten’s THE RAPE OF LUCRETIA. The soprano earned critical acclaim last year as “Donna Anna” at Lincoln Theatre in Napa Valley and gave her Schwabacher Debut Recital – both under the auspices of the San Francisco Opera Center. Van den Heever appears frequently in concert and has been a soloist with the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra, and the Sacramento Choral Society. In 2005 she was the soprano soloist in the premiere of the acclaimed MANZANAR: AN AMERICAN STORY with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, and she premiered Richard Aldag’s SAPPHO FRAGMENTS with Earplay in 2004. Also in 2005, van den Heever made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in Morton Feldman’s “I met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg” and returned in 2006 to sing second soprano in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in San Francisco and on tour in Europe.

To purchase tickets on-line: DON GIOVANNI

Sat. June 2, 8 pm
Tue. June 5, 8 pm
Sun. June 10, 2 pm
Wed. June 13, 7:30 pm
Fri. June 22, 8 pm
Thu. June 28, 7:30 pm
Sat. June 30, 8 pm

DON GIOVANNI – A co-production of San Francisco Opera and Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie.
By Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Libretto by Lorenzo da Ponte. Sung in Italian with English Supertitles. First Performance: Prague, October 29, 1787. Approximate running time: 3 hours, 30 minutes.

DON GIOVANNI – Mariusz Kwiecien
DONNA ANNA – Elza van den Heever
DONNA ELVIRA – Twyla Robinson
DON OTTAVIO – Charles Castronovo
LEPORELLO – Oren Gradus
ZERLINA – Claudia Mahnke
MASETTO – Luca Pisaroni
COMMENDATORE – Kristinn Sigmundsson

Production Team:
CONDUCTOR Donald Runnicles; and Donato Cabrera (June 28th)
DIRECTOR – Leah Hausman
PRODUCTION – David McVicar

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San Francisco Sentinel’s Fine Arts Critic Seán Martinfield is a native San Franciscan. He is a Theatre Arts Graduate from San Francisco State University, a professional singer, and well-known private vocal coach to Bay Area actors and singers of all ages and persuasions. His clients have appeared in Broadway National Tours including Wicked, Aïda, Miss Saigon, Rent, Bye Bye Birdie, in theatres and cabarets throughout the Bay Area, and are regularly featured in major City events including Diva Fest, Gay Pride, and Halloween In The Castro. As an Internet consultant in vocal development and audition preparation he has published thousands of responses to those seeking his advice concerning singing techniques, professional and academic auditions, and careers in the Performing Arts. Ask him a question on AllExperts.com . If you would like to build up your vocal performance chops and participate in the Bay Area’s rich theatrical scene, e-mail him at: seanmartinfield@att.net.

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