26-04-1971 - current
After a difficult start, Eva-Maria Westbroek has attained international acclaim as a young opera star. Her heavy, full soprano voice is ideally suited to Wagnerian roles, but she has also been very successful in Italian operas. Her career took off after an incomparable performance as Katerina in Dmitri Shostakovich's 'Lady ...
Biography Eva-Maria Westbroek
After a difficult start, Eva-Maria Westbroek has attained international acclaim as a young opera star. Her heavy, full soprano voice is ideally suited to Wagnerian roles, but she has also been very successful in Italian operas. Her career took off after an incomparable performance as Katerina in Dmitri Shostakovich's 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk'. She is a celebrated performer who is in high demand in the Netherlands and abroad.
1971 - 1986
Eva-Maria Westbroek is born on April 26 in Belfast, the daughter of a professor of geology and biochemistry and a teacher of classical languages. She is raised in Sassenheim with her two sisters. Her father plays piano and there's always music on in the home. The young Westbroek loves listening to jazz and gospel music: Mahalia Jackson and Billie Holiday.
At age 16 Westbroek begins taking singing lessons with a Bulgarian soprano who introduces her to the singing of such opera greats as Joan Sutherland and Luciano Pavarotti. She is deeply moved by several recordings of Renata Tebaldi, whom she later calls her great example.
1988 - 1994
Westbroek is admitted to the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, from which she graduates seven years later. Her teachers are not overly impressed with her abilities, and she receives the discouraging comment, “You'll never get very far”. (de Volkskrant, January 17, 2009)
After the death of her mother Westbroek enters an emotionally difficult period. A week after the burial, she begins taking lessons with the tenor James McCray, who assures her that she has a fine soprano voice and restores her belief in the prospect of a career as a singer. She makes her debut in the Aldeburgh Festival, after which come performances in Skopje, Riga, and Rome. At the Komische Oper in Berlin she sings the roles of Elisabeth in Giuseppe Verdi's 'Don Carlos' and Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss's 'Elektra'.
Westbroek wins first prize at the first International Competition of Rome. She is also among the prize winners at the Angelica Catalani and the Santa Maria Ligure competitions. She makes her debut in the Netherlands with a Latvian touring production. The performance receives exceptionally poor reviews, the only somewhat positive critique appearing in Trouw: “Westbroek has a very ample sounding voice for her age; warm, full and with a thrilling upper range. This is a singer to pay attention to”. (Trouw, June 8, 1996) The following years seem to confirm the ominous words of her conservatory teachers. Time and again Westbroek is rejected at auditions, and her self-confidence falls lower and lower. She begins working as a singing waitress at the 'Pasta e Basta' restaurant in Amsterdam; she seeks emotional help through hypnotherapy. Both raise her self-confidence.
Westbroek joins the Staatsoper in Stuttgart, where she acquires experience singing and acting. She works with famous directors and is given wonderful opportunities by the opera's managing director Klaus Zehelein. Among the roles she sings are Donna Anna in Mozart's 'Don Giovanni', Gerhilde in Richard Wagner's 'Die Walküre', Giuletta in Jacques Offenbach's 'Tales of Hoffman', Carlotta in Franz Schreker's 'The Stigmatized Ones', and Marie in Bedrich Smetana's 'The Bartered Bride'. She is nominated as vocalist of the year for her interpretation of Chrysothemis in Richard Strauss's 'Elektra'.
Westbroek performs the title role in Bohusla Martinů's 'Julietta' at the Bregenzer Festspiele. In Tokyo, she sings Chrysothemis in Strauss's 'Elektra' in a production conducted by Charles Dutoit.
Westbroek makes her debut at the Salzburg Festival singing Agave in a concert performance of Egon Wellesz's 'Die Bakchantinnen'.
In the spring, she has success at the Semperoper Dresden singing the role of Chrysothemis and later Ariadne. In the autumn she stands out in her debut as Madame Lidoine in Francis Poulenc's Dialogues of the Carmelites in Paris.
In Germany, Westbroek is awarded the title Kammersängerin [chamber singer] in recognition of her accomplishments in Stuttgart. On June 3 in the Amsterdam Muziektheater she sings the leading role in Dmitri Shostakovich's 'Lady Macbeth of Mtsenk', a role that makes her internationally famous. Peter van der Lint writes: “Triumphs are usually unambiguous, and this was one of them. Westbroek plunged with absolute bodily and vocal conviction into the role of the murdering Katerina. It's unimaginable how anyone could sing so beautifully through the highly physically demanding throwing and smashing in the role. Westbroek had no problems, walking barefoot through water and filthy, damp peat dust, rolling over the ground, allowing herself to be manhandled and throwing a bucket of water over her gossamer-thin negligee. Not only for her voice, but also her theatrical command, this is the singer of your dreams”. (Trouw, June 6, 2006) After this acclaimed performance, Westbroek's career gains tremendous momentum. She sings, for example, the role of Siegelinde, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle, in Aix-en-Provence, Salzburg, and Berlin. She travels to London for the role of Minnie in Puccini's 'La Fanciulla del West', to Paris for Richard Wagner's 'Tannhäuser' and Strauss's 'Die Frau ohne Schatten', and to Brussels for Giuseppe Verdi's 'La forza del destino'. She debuts in Munich and Milan. She develops into a gifted Wagner singer but also has a number of Italian roles in her repertoire. On November 3 she receives the VSCD Classical Music Prize for “the most impressive individual artistic achievement of 2006”.
In January Westbroek is awarded the Grand Prix 2008 (Antonio Livio Prize) of La Presse Musicale Internationale in Paris.
Discography Eva-Maria Westbroek
La fanciulla del West
|Type and year||CD, 2014|
|Label||Oehms Classics, OC 945|
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