Studio Spotlight: Q&A With Erik Van Heyningen

We are excited to continue our Studio Spotlight series and introduce our 2017-18 Michigan Opera Theatre Studio Artists! These up-and-coming singers come from all over the country to spend a one-to-two year residency with MOT, including master classes and performance opportunities throughout Detroit! Each month, we’ll introduce you to a new Studio Artist to learn more about the person behind the voice.

This month, we’re delighted to introduce bass-baritone Erik Van Heyningen, a native of Poway, California. Erik will make his MOT debut as Count Ceprano in “Rigoletto” next month. He will also perform the role of Ernest Hemingway in Ricky Ian Gordon’s “27 and Angelotti/the Jailer in “Tosca this season.

Q: What is your favorite opera and why?

A: I find myself returning to “Le nozze di Figaro.” Truthfully, I cant tell you why, but that show sits so deeply in me that I always inevitably turn it on.

Q: What has been your favorite performance experience?

A: My favorite performance experience was this past summer working on our production of “Lucia di Lammermoor” at the Santa Fe Opera. The Lucia (Brenda Rae) is a singer Ive admired for years, and it was an honor to watch her work. She taught me so much about music and singing.

Q: What is your dream role?

A: My dream role would be Amfortas in “Parsifal.” Although, if I could pick a role outside of my fach, it would be “Salome,” hands down.

Q: Whats been the best part about being in the Michigan Opera Theatre Studio program?

A: Ive known resident coach Tessa Hartle and Principal Conductor Stephen Lord since my very first professional engagement at Opera Theater of Saint Louis. Im thrilled to be working with them again.

Q: Whats the best part about living in Detroit?

A: The best part of living in Detroit is the kindness of strangers. I am struck by how friendly everybody is in this city, which is quite a shift from my previous home of Boston.

If you werent an opera singer, what would you be?

A: Id be a chef. I am known among my friends for being a big foodie.

What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

A: I think cucumbers are the vilest thing on this planet.

The MOT Studio is a resident artist training program focused on supporting the next generation of opera singers. For more information, visit Michigan Opera Theatre Studio.


Erik Van Heyningen

Erik Van Heyningen

  • Voice Type: Bass-Baritone
  • Age: 24
  • Hometown: Poway, CA
  • Training: New Music on the Point Festival, Emmanuel Music Bach Institute, Atlantic Music Festival, Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Santa Fe Opera Apprentice
  • Past Roles:
    • Second Boyar, The Golden Cockerel, Santa Fe Opera 2017
    • Frosch, Die Fledermaus, Santa Fe Opera 2017
    • Truffaldino, Ariadne auf Naxos, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2017
    • Colline, La bohème, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2016
    • Doctor, Macbeth, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2016
    • Ernesto, Parisina d’Este, Opera Orchestra of New York 2016
    • Simon Fenton, Emmeline (Tobias Picker), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2015
    • Berardo, Riccardo Primo, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2015
    • Jailer, Dialogues of the Carmelites, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014
    • Ernest Hemingway, Twenty-Seven (Ricky Ian Gordon), Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014
    • Spokesman, The Magic Flute, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis 2014
  • Current/Future Roles:
    • Count Ceprano, Rigoletto, Michigan Opera Theatre 2017
    • Figaro (cover), The Marriage of Figaro, Michigan Opera Theatre 2017
    • Ernest Hemingway, 27, Michigan Opera Theatre 2018
    • Angelotti/Jailer, Tosca, Michigan Opera Theatre 2018