Asian-American lyric soprano Heather Engebretson is becoming known throughout Europe for her "innate sense of phrasing and touching intensity," her "irresistible, seductive presence," and for her "nicely full-bodied, silvery" voice.
In 2020-2021, Engebretson will appear for the first time as Gilda (Rigoletto) for Deutsche Oper Berlin, return to the Royal Opera House Covent Garden in her first new production in London, and tour with Antonio Pappano and the orchestra of Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia as the soprano soloist in Mahler's Fourth Symphony. Other role debuts will include appearences in Le nozze di Figaro as both Susanna (Oper Frankfurt) and Cherubino (Staatstheater Wiesbaden). Further engagements in her home state of Hessen will include Violetta (La traviata), Saffi (Der Zigeunerbaron), and Gilda (Rigoletto) for Staatstheater Wiesbaden and Sophie (Werther) for Oper Frankfurt.
In the 2019-2020 season, Engebretson reprised her acclaimed portrayal of the role of Werther's Sophie for Royal Opera House Covent Garden and returned to Deutsche Oper Berlin as the heroines in Les Contes d'Hoffmann. Engebretson's role debuts in this season highlighted Richard Strauss as she appeared for the first time in the title role of Salome for Theater Luzern, a debut that was heralded as "an entirely new chapter in the interpretation of this work." Other engagements for the season were to have included, before closures due to COVID-19, Donna Anna for Oper Frankfurt, Adina for Staatstheater Wiesbaden, and Zerbinetta (Ariadne auf Naxos) for Royal Danish Opera.
Engebretson began the 2018-2019 season at the Royal Opera Covent Garden as the Waldvogel in Wagner's Ring, and returned to the title role of Alcina in Katie Mitchell's much-celebrated production at the Bolshoi Theatre. She was also seen for the first time as Mimì in Barrie Kosky's new La bohème in her debut for Komische Oper Berlin, and gave her first performances of the heroines in Les Contes d'Hoffmann for Deutsche Oper Berlin and of Donna Anna (Don Giovanni) for Teatro Lirico di Cagliari. Other season engagements included Donna Elvira for Staatstheater Wiesbaden, and her Moscow State Symphony debut.
Engebretson's 17-18 season marked her first season as a freelance artist and saw her debut with The Bolshoi Theatre as Alcina, her debut with Deutsche Oper Berlin (Königin der Nacht), her Chinese debut in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in Xi'an, and returns to Staatsoper Wiesbaden (Fiordiligi, Donna Elvira, Musetta, Oscar, and Götterdämmerung's Woglinde) and the Dresdener Philharmoniker. Other engagements included voice/violin recitals with frequent collaborator, pianist and conductor Killian Farrell.
Engebretson's earlier credits include Sophie (Werther, which served as her HD Cinema debut) and Barbarina (Le nozze di Figaro) for Royal Opera House Covent Garden. Other appearences include Liù (Turandot) for l'Opéra Royal de Wallonie Liège, Mahler's Symphony Number Eight at Hamburg's Elbphilharmonie, Konstanze for Opera Kassel and West Green House Festival Opera, and the title role of Alcina for Opera Stuttgart.
Before beginning her freelance career Engebretson was a member of the solo ensembles of Hamburg, Wiesbaden, and Hannover from 2013 until 2017. During this time she appeared in such diverse roles as Violetta in La traviata, the title role of Alcina, Fiordiligi (Cosi fan tutte), Konstanze (Die Entführung aus dem Serail), Euridice (Orfeo ed Euridice), Musetta, Britten's Tytania, Oscar (Un ballo in maschera), Ascagne (Les Troyens), and Zerlina.
Engebretson received her Master's degree from the Juilliard School under the tutelage of Edith Wiens. While still studying at Juilliard Engebretson's seasons saw her first place win in the Savonlinna Opera Festival's International Singing Competition, her Carnegie Hall Stern Auditorium debut, her Saint Louis Symphony debut (Königin der Nacht), and her first performances of the soprano solo in Verdi's Requiem in Nürnberg. Engebretson's undergraduate studies were completed at the Cleveland Institute of Music where her major studies were with Mary Schiller (voice), David Russell (violin) and Timothy Cutler (music theory). Engebretson continues her studies with Edith Wiens, Hedwig Fassbender, and Mary Schiller.
Photos by Aaron Cawley