Barbara Schilstra (sopraan)

  • BarbaraSchilstra320A
  • BarbaraSchilstra320C
  • 320SchilstraRepetitie
  • Dutch lyric soprano Barbara Schilstra
  • During rehearsal for 401Concerts 4

401NederlandseOperas in Concert: 401Concerts 4
Location: OBA Concert hall (1st floor)
Spui 68, 2511 BT Den Haag
Date: 18 december 2017, 2.30 PM (auditorium open  PM)
Entrance: Free

'Soprano Barbara Schilstra was a wonderful Saffi: with a round and warm soprano voice, and much theatrical bravura.' (Solinger Tageblatt)

‘I love Barbara, I loved her from the first day I saw her in the audition, because she’s got an individuality and I always fall in love with individualities.’ (Nelly Miricioiù)

‘I found that Ms. Schilstra has an exceptional talent as well as an exceptional focus and desire to pursue a career in singing.’ (Anooshah Golesorkhi)

130COncert4401Concerts Nr. 4 (Audio)
Download: € 7.99
401Concerts3VID130401Concerts Nr. 4 (Video)
Download: € 7.99



Dutch lyric soprano Barbara Schilstra is Diva of the Month December in the wake of her performance at 401Concerts 4 in the OBA Concert hall of The Hague on December 18. Schilstra will perform there a wide ranging selection with highlights of operas by Cornelis Dopper, Daniël de Lange, Gerard von Brucken Fock, Julius Röntgen, Willem Landré, Jan van GilseJan Brandts Buys and Richard Hageman. Schilstra: ‘Very different roles with different partners. In Jozal I am singing with Hendrik Vonk, a veritable Heldentenor. In Helga von Stavern I have bass-baritone Andreas Goetze as my moral saviour in the snowstorm that kills me in the opera. I felt very much at ease in this unusual repertoire, which has a temperament, an almost un-Dutch passion that matched very well with my musical spirit.’

Although Schilstra (1976) first took up piano lessons and only later turned to singing, the latter became her sole passion since her conservatory days. Schilstra: ‘It doesn’t really matter with who or what and where. Singing is always a moving experience for me. I could never live without it. In my own voice I always try to find this particular touching quality. My former training as a pianist is also helpful in many ways, since a singer can only benefit from knowledge of instruments. Apart from that, it is of course very handy with studying roles if you can accompany yourself no wand then!’


At the conservatory she had lessons from Hein Meens, following which she also studied with/ took master classes from James McCray, prof. dr. Th. Coresi, Nelly Miricioiu and Peter Nilsson. Schilstra: ‘It is not so easy to pinpoint exactly what you learn from whom. But eventually you arrive at where you are. I am also a trained physiotherapist and a vocal teacher. These two disciplines are very complementary, and this comes together in my teachings. Of course one needs technique in singing, there is no discussion about that but there is also a large mental part in singing and especially in performing. You need to be able to relax and focus, and once the basic technique is there, those additional aspects are perhaps having the greater effect on one’s achievements on stage.’


  • 390SchilstraSaffi
  • 390Schilstra
  • 390SchilstraVonkWIllemsen
  • Barbara Schilstra as Saffi in Strauss' Der Zigeunerbaron
  • Philharmonie Haarlem, Italian opera programme
  • Schilstra, Hendrik Vonk & Wolter Willemsen at rehearsals for 401Concerts 4

In 2010 Schilstra was given a stipend of the Fonds Podiumkunsten. In 2011 and 2012 she was finalist in the Vox Artis International Competition in Romania, where she won the Pygmalion Theatre Price in 2012.

From the Concertgebouw to Vienna

Since then Schilstra could be heard as a soloist in collaboration with various choirs, ensembles and orchestras. She was soloist in Ein Deutsches Requiem in the  Concertgebouw Amsterdam and in en Beethovens ‘9th Symphony’. With the Gelders Orchestra she sang Solveig in Grieg’s Peer Gynt.  The pinnacle of her career to date is arguably her role debut as Saffi in Johan Strauss’s Gypsy Baron in Vienna, which was followed by a tour through Germany. Schilstra: ‘That was a truly wonderful experience for me. I felt very close tot he personage of Saffi and still cherish the memories of those performances with a travelling company from Vienna. We travelled by train and every next day we performed in a different German city.’

Gypsy blood

Currently Schilstra performs as Duó Soleá with Juan Zurutuza in a Spanish programme. Schilstra: ‘The music that we perform is a bit different from the usual classical repertoire. Juan and I are searching for a sound and an interpretation that fits Spanish flamenco and gypsy music. I feel drawn to the gypsy culture, I can’t explain it very well. Saffi was also a gypsy of course. Perhaps my bloodline from my father’s side has something to do with that.’ As for her dreams and ambition Schilstra doesn’t have the need to sing this or that opera or oratorio part. Schilstra: ‘I love singing but I have not set myself a limitation in terms of fixed goals. I am more the type that looks to make the most of what I am currently doing.’ At the time of writing that includes her appearances with the Duó Soleá and the 401DutchOperas concert. Schilstra: “That is truly a special  project. The music is terra incognita; you can truly create things there. That is both unique and challenging.’