Leatitia Gerards
Photo: Romy Treebusch

Laetitia Gerards sings the role of Papagena

19 December 2023

‘I don’t have a Plan B’


Soprano Laetitia Gerards returns to Dutch National Opera this season as Papagena in Die Zauberflöte. Last season, she successfully debuted with Dutch National Opera as Count Lothar in Steef de Jong’s Operetta Land.

Author: Bo van der Meulen

The soprano starts off with a confession: ‘I’ve never seen this production of Die Zauberflöte, I’m ashamed to say. Everybody’s telling me how fun it is. I did get to try on one of my costumes the other day, so I know I’m a messy bird catcher. I’m covered in bird droppings.’


‘It’s a dream to be able to sing in this opera house. I’ve been coming here ever since I was little. We lived in the south of the country, but my mother took me and my siblings to Amsterdam for concerts and performances. It’s just that we never went to an opera. My first memory of the theatre here dates back to a ballet performance of The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. I remember the red velvet chairs, Tchaikovsky’s enchanting music, the ballerinas, the story and the costumes. I never wanted to be a dancer myself. Pink tutu’s, not my thing. I was a tomboy, I wanted to act. The story and the music, that was what interested me!’

Laetitia is a versatile performer. She studied the cello and started singing at an early age. When she was 15, she entered a singing competition. ‘It was the Junior Cristina Deutekom Competition. If I recall correctly, I accompanied myself on the cello. I sang a Gershwin-like tune and something from Jane Eyre, the musical. I came in first and won tickets to the opera Das Rheingold by Dutch Touring Opera. What an eye-opener that was! Singing, music and acting – I’d found my calling.’


Now that Laetitia is 30, she has taken to opera like a duck to water. ‘I’m so lucky. I get to do what I like most and things are going really well. I know what I want and I’m working hard to get it. My priority is honing my skill. I don’t necessarily have to sing specific roles or perform in certain opera houses. I don’t get too worked up about that stuff. Besides opera, I want to have a life, with my partner, my family and my friends. But that’s not to say that I don’t have ambitions. Opera and the theatre are my passion and I don’t have a Plan B. I want to sing and act, and I hope to do that for at least another 30 years. But mostly, I want to keep finding enjoyment in opera, because I’m a fan above all.’ 

‘My choices are quite deliberate. I take on board advice from Margreet Honig, who is my coach, and from my agent Rozemarijn Tiben, but I usually go with my gut feeling. If something doesn’t feel right, I don’t do it. I don’t think you get the best results if something feels off. Then it turns into a job. People do have opinions about what I should and shouldn’t do, and choosing can be hard. But I will always go with what I truly believe in. To me, that matters the most. If you follow your heart, your dreams will fly on magical wings.’ 

‘I go with my gut feeling’

Papagena is not a very big role, but Laetitia is not bothered. ‘I love it. I can play and sing without too much pressure. I’m very much looking forward to singing with Thomas Oliemans because I’ve never been on stage with him. He’s such a great performer! When I tell my friends that I’ll be singing in Die Zauberflöte, they’re excited. They either know, or know of, the opera, and they all want to come and see me in it.’



Leatitia Gerards and Thomas Oliemans
Laetitia Gerards and Thomas Oliemans in Die Zauberflöte (23-24) | Photo: Bart Grietens
Operetta land
Laetitia Gerards in Operetta Land (22-23) | Photo: Bart Grietens

New repertoire

Over recent years, the soprano has developed an interest in contemporary works and newly written operas. ‘Of course, I’m a huge Mozart fan, but I’ve recently discovered so many beautiful contemporary operas. Two that come to mind in particular because I found them deeply moving are Animal Farm by Alexander Raskatov and Innocence by Kaija Saariaho. They were just so wonderful. I couldn’t help but cry! These two operas exemplify to me how great opera can be: reflective of today’s world, modern, a truly contemporary art form. That’s something that resonates with me and that I want to contribute to.’ 

‘I sang and played in La voix humaine by Poulenc for the first time not too long ago. Poulenc is one of my favourite composers anyway, but this work is really very special to me. I was inspired by it and wanted to create something of my own. So I sat down with my very good friend and pianist/composer Thomas Beijer. We’re working on a monologue, a contemporary production about an issue facing society today. Just like Poulenc in La voix humaine, I want to tell a story in the form of a monodrama. So, it’s going to be a solo for a young woman who’s struggling to connect her inner world with the outer world. I don’t want to say too much about it at this point, but the current social media climate will also be addressed in it.’

TV fame

Laetitia Gerards garnered her own social media buzz after her appearance in Wie is de Mol? (The Mole), a Dutch TV show. This earned her a legion of new followers. But she did not want to become a vlogger or a TikTok personality. ‘I’m a little scared of those apps, to be honest. They’re highly addictive. I have an app on my phone that limits my screen time.’ ‘But there are fun sides to my “celebrity status” too. People who’ve followed me since they saw me on TV and don’t know much about opera now want to come see me in Die Zauberflöte. And those who’ve bought tickets to my performances in the past tell me how surprised they were that they actually enjoyed themselves. I love hearing that. Now it has sort of become my mission to introduce new audiences to the magic of opera.’ · 

  • Laetitia Gerards will play the role of Papagena in Dutch National Opera’s Die Zauberflöte from 1 through 28 December 2023