Caren van Oijen

Soloist - Mezzosoprano
The most important thing in singing is communication.
You stand on the stage to communicate something.

In the Ensemble of the Komische Oper Berlin since 2003.
A member of the Opera Studio of the Komische Oper Berlin from 1987, and until 2003 as a permanent guest, since 2015 vocal coach in the Opera Studio.


Kox: The Silent Cry. Der Wechsel menschlicher Sachen with Erik Iotichius; Lieder und Chansons, with Alessandro Misciasci (Klavier); Schönberg: Moses und Aron with Pierre Boulez; Schnittke: Life with an Idiot with Mstislaw Rostropowitsch

Pierre Boulez, Hartmut Haenchen, Eduardo Mata, Paul McCreesh, Kirill Petrenko, Mstislaw Rostropowitsch, Simone Young, Vladimir Jurowski

David Alden, Pierre Audi, Calixto Bieito, Willy Decker, Andreas Homoki, Richard Jones, Barrie Kosky, Harry Kupfer, Uwe Eric Laufenberg, Christof Loy, Hans Neuenfels, Boris Pokrovsky

Mrs. Sedley (Peter Grimes), Suzuki (Madame Butterfly), Leocasta (Giustino), Irene (Tamerlano), Bradamante (Alcina), Olga (Jewgeni Onegin), Försterin/Eule (Das schlaue Füchslein), Sonjetka (Lady Macbeth von Mzensk), Rosenkranz (Hamlet), Wirtin (Boris Godunow), Dryade (Ariadne), Margret (Wozzeck), Gottesanbeterin (Mikropolis), Marcellina (Die Hochzeit des Figaro), Clarice (Die Liebe zu drei Orangen), Annina (Der Rosenkavalier), Paulina (Pique Dame), Dritte Dame (Die Zauberflöte), Mama/Die Tasse/Die Libelle (L'Enfant et les Sortilèges)

Hamburgische Staatsoper, Aalto-Musiktheater Essen, Deutsche Oper am Rhein, Oper Köln, Oper Bonn, De Nederlandse Opera, Salzburger Festspiele, Bergen Festival, Händelfest-spiele Halle, Holland Festival, Gewandhausorchester Leipzig, Dresdner Philharmonie, Rotterdams Philharmonisch Orkest, Concertgebouw Orkest u. a.
Caren van Oijen has never let herself be intimidated by iron curtains. Europe was still divided into East and West as the young Dutchwoman was brought to the Komische Oper Berlin by Harry Kupfer in 1987. »It was an exciting time.« She still gets goosebumps thinking about a visit to see a show in the Semperoper Dresden: Fidelo, directed by Christine Mielitz – one week before the wall fell. »The prisoners’ choir sang behind barbed wire, and everyone understood the subtext. Things were simmering – and the opera was right at the centre of it all.«

Opera entered her life comparatively late. »I always enjoyed singing, but actually, I fancied the idea of playing the harp or the violin.« She saw her first opera in Amsterdam: Eugene Onegin. »I liked the role of Olga! Which ended up being the first role I sang on stage.« But she hadn’t yet caught the bug. »Sometimes I found opera a bit boring.« Then she saw a show in Amsterdam that changed her life: Harry Kupfer’s production of Boris Godunov. »That was a turning point for me, and it really left an impression on me.« She rang Harry Kupfer. He invited her to audition – and brought her over to the Spree!

In the unfamiliar environment of East-Berlin, Caren van Oijen quickly got her bearings. She lived first of all in Hohenschönhausen, and later at Frankfurter Tor, in a small apartment replete with cockroaches. She didn’t have a great deal of spare time left over after her duties in the Opera Studio. »That was a tough school, but a great one. We had class from the morning till the evening, it was quite a workload.« One person she never forgot was her teacher Marianne Fischer-Kupfer. »I learnt so much from her.« For two years now, Caren van Oijen has been fostering her own new generation of singers, as a coach in the Opera Studio of the Komische Oper Berlin.

In the ensuing years, she has amassed an extensive repertoire, discovered her love of Slavic and Spanish music, sung lots of baroque and contemporary material, including multiple world premieres. »I enjoy singing everything! The most important thing in singing is communication. You stand on the stage to communicate something.« It’s even possible to break through walls with singing – the fourth wall to the audience. And sometimes you even break through an iron curtain!