A regular in the world’s leading opera houses and concert halls, Dutch soprano Eva-Maria Westbroek is renowned for her vocal prowess and versatility. We caught up with Eva-Maria as we welcome her to the AH roster for worldwide general management.
Let’s start with one of your signature roles, Sieglinde, which you’re currently singing at the Met. Can you tell us a bit about what the role means to you?
Sieglinde is one of the most wonderful roles to perform. I love her emotional journey, her liberation and deep love. The music is so thrilling and never ceases to move me to the core. I have performed it with so many different conductors, and in different productions that it always feels like a new experience. I hope to continue singing this role many more times.
What about your relationship with Wagner’s music in general?
Wagner can be like a drug. These long evenings can feel like a sort of out-of-body experience where you come out feeling like a changed person by the end. There lies a certain danger in singing too much Wagner, I feel, so I try to always sing other things alongside it to stay fresh.
You’re also known for Minnie Fanciulla (who you’ve described as “like my best friend” Limelight), Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk and Jenufa. Are there any roles you’ve yet to perform that you would love to?
This is such a hard question. I have been so lucky to perform the most wonderful roles, some of which I’d love to do again. In addition to the wonderful roles you’ve mentioned, I also love Katja Kabanova and Francesca da Rimini, to name but a few. They’re all such tremendous operas.
The verismo operas are extremely attractive I feel, and I am so eager to discover more great operas that have been forgotten or are just rarely performed. Perhaps Parisina by Mascagni, Rissurezione by Alfano, la Fiamma by Respighi, and many more!
You created the role of Anna Nicole at the Royal Opera House. What was that like?
This was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life. To be in this extremely creative atmosphere with Mark Anthony Turnage and Richard Thomas present, with the wonderful Richard Jones and Tony Pappano, dancers, singers, actors and above all, singing one of the greatest roles in one of the greatest operas ever written.
You’ve been an ambassador for the charity Musicians Without Borders since 2014.
I think music is an extremely powerful tool to connect people. The story that the founder of Musicians Without Borders Laura Hassler told me says it all. She was part of a peace-promoting organisation and was in many meetings in former Yugoslavia to try and get people to connect and start a dialogue. After hours of fruitless discussion, the parties were invited to sing together to get their minds off the problems and relax. This is where the magic happened! People made music together and connected on a whole new level. In a short time, connections were made that days of discussing didn’t achieve.
What’s your wish for your career in the next few years?
My wish is to always try and explore more music, notably now for the first time in the form of recital, which I’m very excited about. I have started working with Julius Drake and am thrilled, and to be honest, slightly scared too! In opera, I hope to find interesting projects and to sing roles that inspire me with wonderful conductors and directors. That is my dream come true.