Performance Friday, October 24, 2014 | 7:30 PM

Elza van den Heever
Vlad Iftinca

Weill Recital Hall
South African dramatic soprano Elza van den Heever won raves for her 2013 Metropolitan Opera debut as Elizabeth I in Donizetti’s Maria Stuarda. Now this remarkable singer displays her tremendous range and versatility in her New York recital debut, singing Handel arias and songs by Schumann, Brahms, Fauré, and three South African composers.

Part of Salon Encores.


  • Elza van den Heever, Soprano
    New York Recital Debut
  • Vlad Iftinca, Piano


  • HANDEL "Mio caro bene" from Rodelinda
  • HANDEL "Ah! crudel, il pianto mio" from Rinaldo
  • SCHUMANN Frauenliebe und -leben
  • FAURÉ "Les roses d’Ispahan"
  • FAURÉ "Après un rêve"
  • FAURÉ "Clair de lune"
  • FAURÉ "Fleur jetée"
  • BRAHMS "Wie Melodien zieht es mir"
  • BRAHMS "O komme, holde Sommernacht"
  • BRAHMS "Die Mainacht"
  • BRAHMS "Von ewiger Liebe"
  • BRAHMS "Botschaft"
  • LE ROUX MARAIS "Heimwee"
  • LE ROUX MARAIS "Geboorte van die Lente"
  • LE ROUX MARAIS "Mali, die Slaaf se Lied"
  • PESCOD "Oktobermaand"
  • LEMMER "My Siel is siek van Heimwee"

  • Encores:
  • IVES "Memories: a. Very Pleasant, b. Rather Sad"
  • PIETER DE VILLIERS "Aandblom is 'n witblom"

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately two hours, including one 20-minute intermission.


  • Elza van den Heever

    Soprano Elza van den Heever's 2014-2015 season is framed by her portrayal of Elsa in a new production of Lohengrin at Opernhaus Zürich, debuting September 2014 and returning in July 2015. She also makes her role debut for Opéra National de Bordeaux in the title role in Bellini's Norma in a Christopher Alden production, and returns to the Metropolitan Opera as Donna Anna in Mozart's Don Giovanni, the role that launched her career. The year also brings a reprisal of Ms. van den Heever's acclaimed portrayal of Desdemona in Verdi's Otello for Oper Frankfurt. During the 2013-2014 season, she made three major role debuts: Ellen Orford in a David Alden production of Britten'sPeter Grimes at the English National Opera,Giseldaat Hamburg State Opera in a new Alden production of Verdi's I Lombardi, and Anna Bolena for Marie-Louise Bischofberger's new production at Opéra National de Bordeaux.

    The South African soprano's successful Metropolitan Opera debut as Elisabetta in Maria Stuarda in 2012 was broadcast worldwide to millions of viewers as part of the Metropolitan Opera's Live in HD series. Audiences and critics also lauded recent role debuts as two of Handel's most formidable characters: Armida in Rinaldo with the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the title role in Alcina with Opéra National de Bordeaux.

    In Europe, Ms. van den Heever has garnered critical acclaim for such roles as Desdemona in Otello, Elisabetta di Valois in Don Carlo, Vitellia in La clemenza diTito, and Antonia in Les contes d'Hoffmann. Additional European successes have included Elsa in Lohengrin for the Bavarian State Opera; Agathe in Der Freischütz at Vienna's Theater an der Wien; Fiordiligi in Così fan tutte for Opéra National de Paris; Donna Anna in Don Giovanni at the Hamburg State Opera; and Elettra in Idomeneo,the Composer in Ariadne auf Naxos, and Leonora inIl trovatore at Opéra National de Bordeaux.

    In addition to the Lyric Opera of Chicago and the Met, critically acclaimed appearances in North America include Leonorafor the Canadian Opera Company,Fiordiligi with The Dallas Opera, and Donna Anna with Santa Fe Opera. In San Francisco, where she participated in both the Merola Opera Program and San Francisco Opera's Adler Fellowship, she portrayed Mary Custis Lee in the world premiere of Philip Glass's Appomattox and Donna Anna in the company's 2007 production of Don Giovanni-performances that were seen nationwide through the company's Grand Opera Cinema Series. She enjoys a successful partnership with Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony, performing on tour throughout Europe as well as on the orchestra's Grammy Award-winning recording of Mahler's Symphony No. 8.

    One of triplets, Ms. van den Heever was born and raised in Johannesburg, South Africa, and received her musical training at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Winner of the 2008 Seattle Opera International Wagner Competition, she continues to study with soprano and master teacher Sheri Greenawald. A dual citizen of France and South Africa, Ms. van den Heever makes her home in Bordeaux, France.

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  • Vlad Iftinca

    Vlad Iftinca is currently part of the Metropolitan Opera music staff roster and is the staff coach for the Lindemann Young Artist Development Program. Born in Romania, he received his primary education at Escuela Superior de Música Reina Sofía in Madrid. He pursued graduate studies at The Juilliard School in New York City.

    Mr. Iftinca has collaborated in recital with distinguished artists such as Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, Deborah Voigt, Thomas Hampson, Luca Pisaroni, Joan Rodgers, Isabel Leonard, Erin Morley, and Shenyang. He has performed solo and chamber music recitals at the Auditorio Nacional de Música in Madrid, Max-Joseph-Saal in Munich, Palau de les Arts in Valencia, Soiree musicales d'Arles in France, Beijing Music Festival, Alice Tully Hall, Los Angeles Opera, Seoul Arts Center, Hong Kong Arts Festival, and Ravinia Festival.

    At the Metropolitan Opera, Mr. Iftinca has worked under conductors such as James Levine, Sir Andrew Davis, Valery Gergiev, Gianandrea Noseda, Maurizio Benini, David Robertson, and Marco Armiliato. Mr. Iftinca has been part of the music staff at the Renata Scotto Opera Academy in Westchester, New York, and has collaborated with the Regina Resnik Presents series in San Francisco and New York. Recent engagements include performances on the Metropolitan Museum of Art concert series with baritone Thomas Hampson, and his conducting debut with The Juilliard School's production of Rossini's La cambiale di matrimonio and La scala di seta.

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At a Glance

Handel had a knack for creating strong female characters in his Italian operas. We begin this evening with two women of power, one admirable and the other not so much: a medieval Lombard queen whose love prevails over tyranny and a Saracen sorceress undone by passion.

Schumann turned almost exclusively to song composition in 1840, including the cycle Frauenliebe und -leben. Written in the same year as his marriage to the great pianist and composer Clara Wieck, Schumann created richly expressive music for Adelbert von Chamisso’s poems in which a woman recounts how she fell in love, married, bore a child, and mourned her beloved husband’s death.

Next, we hear four songs by Fauré, a consummate master of the late–19thcentury French art song. We are first transported to fantasy Persia, redolent of roses and infused with wistful sensuality, followed by a dreamy melody. A melancholy, courtly minuet in the moonlight is in stark contrast to the stormy final song, a whirlwind of passion and despair.

Brahms wrote lieder throughout his life, and we hear five of his greatest songs on tonight’s program: a meditation on poetry and music, an irresistible expression of youthful ardor, a profound evocation of moonlit grief, a dialogue between a girl and her lover, and a return to Persian exoticism.

It is not often that we in this country have a chance to hear the art song of South Africa, but Elza van den Heever gives us that opportunity tonight, with three of its most eminent poets and three of its art-song composers rounding out the program. Two songs about longing for the beautiful South African countryside enclose two songs about the arrival of spring, while at the center of the group is a melancholy song by a Cape Malay slave longing for her Javanese homeland.
Program Notes


UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa

Lead funding for UBUNTU: Music and Arts of South Africa is provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, the Ford Foundation, The Howard Gilman Foundation, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Additional support is provided by the Mai Family Foundation, South African Tourism, and South African Airways.

UBUNTU is held in collaboration with the Department of Arts and Culture of the Republic of South Africa and the South African Consulate General in New York in celebration of 20 years of freedom and democracy.
This performance is part of Great Singers III: Evenings of Song.

Part of