Elise Caluwaerts

About Elise

Thanks to her versatility and captivating personality, soprano Elise Caluwaerts has grown into a renowned soloist both in Belgium and abroad. Her love for challenging repertoire – ranging from opera to multidisciplinary projects – led to various creations and remarkable collaborations with internationally renowned composers and ensembles. During the Sydney Festival 2016, she sang the highly acclaimed role of Lei in Pascal Dusapin’s chamber opera Passion :"Belgian soprano Elise Caluwaerts impressed with her supple sense of line and strength, displaying a soaring, pure-toned top register and richly coloured lower register." (The Australian).

Furthermore, Elise released an album with spectacular coloratura repertoire with the St Petersburg Symphony Orchestra in December 2016. It lead to various major international opera productions, such as Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Donna Elvira) with the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra directed by David Stern and Rossini’s Il Barbieri di Siviglia (Rosina) under the baton of Vegard Nilsen. Highlight of the 2017-2018 season was the female leading role (Chuan Yun) in the creation of Enjott Schneider's opera Marco Polo directed by Kasper Holten in Guanghzou Opera (China) in May 2018. Elise Caluwaerts is currently preparing for the role of Mimi in La Bohème for the Copenhagen Opera Festival in August 2019. In addition, a series of New Year's concerts are planned with the Danish Aalborg Symphony Orchestra during the 2019-2020 season. In Belgium, Elise will be performing songs by Berlioz, Strauss and Villa-Lobos in a new production with cello octet Ô-Celli.

The numerous multidisciplinary projects Elise Caluwaerts is working on prove that she seeks to explore boundaries. In 2017-2018 there was the successful literary-musical production Avondrood around Richard Strauss's Vier letzte Lieder, a collaboration with Behoud de Begeerte and acclaimed author Lize Spit. In July 2019, at the request of House of Flanders, Elise curated an artistic production in which art, fashion and technology came together to connect past and present. Therefore, she collaborated with VR producer Wim Forceville and fashion tech designer Jasna Rok at the world-famous Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco.

Extensive biography

Elise Caluwaerts simultaneously studied at the conservatories of Antwerp with Lucienne Van Deyck (classical singing) and Brussels (early music), followed by the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where she graduated Cum Laude with Diane Forlano. She took master classes with Peter Kooij, Elly Ameling, David Wilson Johnson, Jozef De Beenhouwer and Gemma Visser. Neil Schicoff is her present coach.

As an opera soloist, Elise sang the leading female role (Chuan Yun) in the creation of Enjott Schneider's opera Marco Polo directed by Kasper Holten (Guanghzou Opera China, May 2018), the role of Donna Elvira in Mozart’s Don Giovanni (Shanghai Symphony Orchestra & David Stern, 2017), Rosina in Mozart’s Il Barbiere (Norway, 2017), Lei in Pascal Dusapin’s Passion (Sydney Festival 2016), Jenny in Kurt Weill’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny (Volkstheater Rostock, 2015), Zerlina in Don Giovanni, Belinda in Dido and Aeneas, Angelica in Orlando Furioso, Ariel in The Tempest, the leading role in Venus and Adonis and Arianna in Drift (an adaptation of Monteverdi’s L’Arianna). For many years, she had a close cooperation with director Wouter Van Looy in different international scenic projects for Music Theatre Transparant, including the applauded production The Queen without Country at the Oerol Festival in 2015. In concert productions, she has worked with conductors such as Lawrence Foster, Philippe Herreweghe, Jordi Savall, Reinbert De Leeuw, Emmanuelle Haim, Fernando Lozano, Facundo Agudin, Gabriel Garrido and Robin Engels and with ensembles such as Collegium Vocale, Oxalys, Ictus, Ensemble Phoenix Munich and Musiques Nouvelles.

Elise has a special interest in contemporary and multidisciplinary projects and has interpreted various extreme compositions such as Know what is above you by Steve Reich and Louis Andriessen's De Staat. She sang the world premieres of operas by Wim Hendrickx (Zurich) and Nicholas Lens (Beijing). In 2015 she embodied the part of Romy Schneider in Elle est Moi und Töte Mich, specifically written for her voice by Joris Blanckaert. As an actress, singer and dancer (Elise followed years of classical dance training), she appeared in art films by Hans Op de Beeck and Gabriela Hernandez and in various performances with designer Kim Stumpf during Paris Fashion week in 2011 and with video artist collective Glowing Bulbs during Aurora 2015 in Dallas. In 2017 she made a remarkable appearance amongst a Hollywood cast in the British thriller series Riviera, directed by Hans Herbots.

Rooted in her passion for the song repertoire, Elise forms a much sought duo with pianist Kim Van den Brempt for over ten years, culminating in 2014 with the release of their first album Nightfall, with works by Strauss, Berg and Eisler. In 2017, they performed the Vier letzte Lieder in Avondrood, a production that matched their talents with those of acclaimed author Lize Spit (in cooperation with Behoud de Begeerte).