The suddenly prominent South African soprano Johanni van Oostrum, who sang Agathe in London recently, appears as the First Lady in the new Deutsche Grammophon Zauberflöte and will sing Leonore at Garsington next summer. On the evidence so far, she’s a huge catch for Buckinghamshire: her lyric voice seems ideally placed for Elsa and Agathe, with peachy tone and long-breathed phrases, and careful attention to the text. Garsington’s Fidelio suddenly looks a mouthwatering prospect.
- Opera Magazine in February 2020 (Elsa in Lohengrin in November 2019 at the Bayerische Staatsoper) -
South African-Dutch soprano Johanni van Oostrum is in demand as interpreter of leading roles in operas by Mozart, Wagner, Janáček and Strauss. She has performed under conductors such as Sir Simon Rattle, Ivor Bolton, Massimo Zanetti, Henrik Nánási, Antonello Manacorda, Stefan Solyom, Gianluca Marciano, Jan Willem de Vriend, and worked with directors such as Harry Kupfer, Barrie Kosky, Tobias Kratzer, Florentine Klepper and Vera Nemirova.
The 2019-20 season marks Ms. Van Oostrum’s debuts at Grand Théâtre de la Ville de Luxembourg, Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, The Barbican in London, and at Opéra de Rouen Normandie as Agathe in Weber’s Der Freischütz with Insula Orchestra lead by Laurence Equilbey. She returns to the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich as Elsa in Lohengrin and to the Hessische Staatstheater in Wiesbaden as Ellen Orford in Peter Grimes, Chrysothemis in Elektra, as well as Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier. She then goes on to her house debut at Garsington Opera as Leonore in Fidelio conducted by Gérard Korsten, a role she also sings earlier in the season in concert performances with Cape Town Opera. Her regular collaboration with the Staatskapelle Weimar continues with performances of Beethoven’s „Ah! Perfido“ conducted by Bertrand de Billy, followed by concerts alongside Jonas Kaufmann in Nürnberg, Hamburg, Düsseldorf and Lucerne, while she debuts with the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester in Hamburg singing Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass lead by Alan Gilbert.
Last season featured three major role debuts: the title role in a new production of Richard Strauss’ Salome at Oper Graz, Marietta in Korngold’s Die Tote Stadt with Opéra de Limoges, and Agathe in Weber’s Der Freischütz with Insula Orchestra under Laurence Equilbey at Théâtre de Caen, in Aix-en-Provence, the BOZAR in Brussels, Theater an der Wien, and the Ludwigsburger Schlossfestspiele. She also debuted at Opéra de Quebec as Senta in Wagner’s Der fliegende Hollander in a new production directed by François Girard and returned as Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier to the Komische Oper Berlin and as Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss’ Elektra and as Elsa in Wagner’s Lohengrin to Theater Bonn conducted by Dirk Kaftan.
The Marschallin in Der Rosenkavalier has become one of her signature roles, after she came to international attention in 2012 when, at short notice, she successfully took over the role under the baton of Sir Simon Rattle at the Dutch National Opera in Amsterdam. She has performed this role at the Komische Oper Berlin, Royal Swedish Opera under the baton of Alan Gilbert, Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar, and the Estonian National Opera.
Recent seasons have included house debuts at Oper Graz as Grete in Schreker’s Der Ferne Klang, the Bayerische Staatsoper in Munich and Minnesota Opera as Countess Almaviva in Mozart’s Le nozze di Figaro, Konzert Theater Bern singing the title role in a new production of Janáček’s Katja Kabanova, and at Festspielhaus Baden-Baden as First Lady in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte under the baton of Yannick Nézet-Séguin (released on CD by Deutsche Grammophon in 2019).
In prior seasons at the Komische Oper Berlin she could be heard performing roles such as Micaëla in Carmen, Antonia in Offenbach’s Les contes d’Hoffmann, the First Lady in Die Zauberflöte and Mary in Kálmán’s Die Herzogin von Chicago. Ms. Van Oostrum is also a regular guest at Theater Bonn, having portrayed roles such as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer and Judith in Emil Nikolaus von Reznicek’s Holofernes there in the past.
Further past engagements include appearances at the Royal Concertgebouw in Amsterdam as Countess in Le nozze di Figaro, the National Theatre Brno as Katja Kabanova, the Deutsches Nationaltheater Weimar as Mimi in Puccini’s La bohème and Elsa in Lohengrin, Staatstheater Braunschweig as Chrysothemis in Elektra, and at Theater Heidelberg and Cape Town Opera Senta in Der fliegende Holländer.
As concert soloist she has performed with the Staatskapelle Weimar in Ravel’s Shéhérazade, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and orchestral songs by Strauss on the occasion of the Richard Strauss 150th Anniversary Celebration Concert in Weimar. She also performed Strauss’ Four Last Songs, conducted by Gianluca Marciano at the Al Bustan Festival in Beirut and with the Staatskapelle Weimar in Bayreuth, as well as a concert with Orchestre national d’Île-de-France at Festival de Saint-Denis in Paris.
Born in South Africa, Ms. Van Oostrum is a graduate of the University of Pretoria. She received vocal training from Dr. Mimi Coertse and was a member of the Black Tie Opera. She won the Erna Spoorenberg Dutch Vocal Competition in 2005 and the Ruth Lopin Nash Award from the Oratorio Society of New York at Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in 2009. She was awarded a Fleur du Cap Theatre Award in 2018 for her performance at Cape Town Opera as Senta in Der fliegende Holländer.
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(…) the cast does ample justice to the music. Foremost among them is Johanni van Oostrum as the Countess, whose every aria was a transfixing combination of strength and delicacy. There was such a wondrous wistfulness in her opening lament, hers such a supple soprano voice (…)
Twin Cities Pioneer Press (The Marriage of Figaro, Minnesota Opera, Nov 2017)
Den vokalen Glanzpunkt jedoch setzt Johanni van Oostrum in der Rolle der Ellen Orford. Sie ist nicht weniger als eine Idealbesetzung. Wunderbar satt ist die Mittellage, klangvoll sogar noch die ungewöhnlichen tiefen Töne (…), leuchtend, nein glühend intensiv geraten die Spitzentöne. Sie ist die gar nicht so heimliche Heldin der Aufführung.
Der Opernfreund (Peter Grimes, Staatstheater Wiesbaden, 2017)
Blessed with a glorious voice and exceptional expressive abilities, Johanni van Oostrum was the undisputed highlight of the evening. She threw herself into the gory role with all the necessary self-denial required, culminating in a most memorable final scene.
Online Merker (Salome, Oper Graz, Nov 2018)
Die südafrikanische Sopranistin, die auch Senta und Elsa in ihrem Repertoire führt, überzeugt in der Rolle der nach Identität suchenden Frau voll und ganz.
- Neue Zürcher Zeitung (Katja Kabanova, Konzert Theater Bern, May 2018) -
Photo Credit: Chloé Desnoyers