The art of Singing and Elisabeth Holmertz chose each other after an 8-year-old Elisabeth saw Rossini’s La Cenerentola at the Grand Theatre in her hometown of Gothenburg. Her goal and dream was to become an opera singer, stand on stage in fancy costumes, and sing otherworldly, beautiful music. The path was a pretty straight one, through music lessons, music high school, musicology studies, a conservatory (Oslo), and a conservatory again (Cologne). Somewhere, the dream of becoming an opera singer waned and was transformed into becoming “just” a singer and, later, an “Actor Singer” – a singer who also acts, but not necessarily on the opera stage.
As a young and a little bit lost singer she met Henrik Hellstenius for the first time in 2005 when she sang the title role in his opera Ophelias: Death by Water Singing. Here she was challenged to go beyond classical vocal ideals and experiment with different techniques and theatrical expressions, things she’s carried with her for the rest of her career.
She also found her voice mainly in the improvisational music of the 17th century and the complex music of today. It’s there, in the space between these extremes, she balances. Or better, she jumps between genres, styles, and expressions: singing not only lute songs and baroque opera, but experimental opera, opera for babies, and avant-garde contemporary music.
She has been a soloist with Concerto Copenhagen, Cikada, and both the Norwegian and Danish Broadcasting Orchestras, however she cherishes most her own projects: ensemble Odd Size, who, among other things, performs a version of Handel’s Messiah for only four musicians; crossing the boundaries between new and old in Vollen United with Kenneth Karlsson; ongoing collaborations with flute and drum artist Poul Høxbro and lutenist Fredrik Bock; and new music and improvisation with harpist Sunniva Rødland and percussionist Sigrun Rogstad Gomnæs. Elisabeth also sings in Rolf Erik Nyström’s ensemble, Oriental Winds of the Baroque, which explores the origins of European baroque music. We should also mention here her close collaboration with composers such as Rolf Wallin, Rebecka Ahvenniemi, Jenny Hettne, Tansy Davies, Julian Skar, Maja Ratkje, and Eivind Buene, among others.
In 2020 she completed a PhD in artistic research at The Norwegian Academy of Music. Here she explored her own varied artistic roles, while striving to expand the boundaries of what is expected from a classically trained soprano by performing all the roles in Monteverdi’s opera, L’Orfeo.
On this recording Hellstenius and Holmertz have continued the work they started in 2005.