John van Kesteren

4 May 1921 Den Haag – 11 July 2008 Jupiter (Florida)

Picture of John van Kesteren

John van Kesteren singsLa Cenerentola: Ich schwöre, sie wird mein
Van Kesteren was an electrical engineer for the Dutch postal service. From 1942, he joined an amateur theater group and sang operetta there. After World War II, he studied voice at the Den Haag conservatory. In 1947, he made his debut as Italienischer Sänger in Rosenkavalier, for the Vienna Staatsoper on a guest performance in Scheveningen. The same year, he also made his debuts on the radio and the concert podium. His Amsterdam debut followed in 1948 as Seemann and Melot in Tristan und Isolde, directed by Lothar Wallerstein, who had been one of his professors in Den Haag.

Then he undertook further studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris and with Vera Schwarz in Salzburg. And only now, he left the postal service.

From 1954, he sang in Berlin: for two years at the Komische Oper, then at the Städtische Oper. 1954 was also the year of his debut at (and not just with) the Vienna Staatsoper. 1956 was his first (of various) appearances at the Salzburg Festival. In 1959, he left Berlin for Munich, where he would stay for 17 years, and sing both at the Staatsoper and the Gärtnerplatztheater. Guest appearances in Stuttgart, Düsseldorf, Cologne, Frankfurt, Geneva, Zürich, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Rome, Milano (La Scala), Florence (Teatro Comunale), New York (City Center Opera), Boston, Dallas, Cincinnati, Buenos Aires (Colón), Rio de Janeiro, Melbourne, Tokyo and at the Drottningholm Festival.

The roles he sang included Almaviva, Comte Ory, Ernesto, Don Ottavio, Tamino, Don Basilio, Paolino (Il matrimonio segreto), and notably Chapelou. In Salzburg, he would sing comprimario parts, and that's also what became his specialty in later years. In concert, he was a noted Bach interpreter. After retiring, he moved to Florida.


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