“I was immediately struck by the warmth, depth, and richness of her sound and by an aural radiance that never faded.. She appeared in absolute control..”
Susan Elliot, Musical America
“ .. On one hour’s notice, mezzo-soprano Beste Kalender, originally scheduled to sing the role of Mercedes, learned that she would have to sing the title role. This she did, and with remarkable success…”
Calgary Herald on Calgary Opera’s opening night of Carmen
IT STARTS WITH -
An endless passion for music, for art,
for love, for life.
Beste grew up largely in the city of Antalya, Turkey, and in Istanbul, singing in children’s opera choruses and attending both the State Conservatory and Bogazici University, one of the country’s top schools. There was music in the household. “My father is the maestro in our family,” she laughs.
“There was a TV show in Turkey on Sunday afternoons hosted by [the late conductor] Hikmet Simsek. When I was five or six, my parents were watching it and there was this lady in a huge, puffy red dress making this magnificent sound. I didn’t know it was opera, of course, but I pointed at her and said, ‘I want to be her.’”
The path to “her” has been more circuitous than most, partly because Beste was determined to have an international career, for which she knew she would have to leave Turkey.
After a stint in graduate research at the University of Toronto researching music cognition & developmental psychology, Beste began to explore the festival circuit, working with Opera on the Avalon in Newfoundland, France’s Les Choregies D’Orange, and Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara.
Then came the Glenn Gould School at the Royal Conservatory, from which she earned an Artist Diploma in 2014. By April of 2015 she was enrolled in the Emerging Artist Development Program at the Calgary Opera, singing the role of Mercedes, when the original lead had to step out due to heath reasons. The call went out to Beste; she had one hour to prepare for singing the role of Carmen. “This she did, and with remarkable success…”
In a crowded field, Beste unquestionably has the talent… she is also a consistently bright, positive presence. Asked a typical journalist’s question about her preferences—contemporary music, recital, opera, standard rep—she responds, “As long as I can communicate with people through my music, I’m the happiest person in the world.”
Credits: Susan Elliot, Musical America, Photo: Darryl Block
IT NEVER ENDS
Passion never dies. It grows
stronger every day.
Beste’s first appearance at Carnegie Hall was in 2017 as part of the Spotlight Recital Series, after which she was featured as the Artist of Month by Musical America Worldwide. She returned to Carnegie Hall in 2018 for the Marilyn Horne Song Celebration, along with internationally celebrated artists such as Isabel Leonard, Nicole Cabell, Warren Jones and Lester Lynch. A frequent performer on concert and opera stages internationally, Beste has recently performed at Helikon Opera (Russia), Bolshoi Theatre (Belarus), Teatro Comunale di Bologna (Italy), Sori Festival (Jeonju, Korea) and Les Chorégies D’Orange (France), as well as in various productions in Canada. She made her professional debut in the title role of Bizet’s Carmen with Calgary Opera and American role debut with Cenerentola at Music Academy of The West.
Among her accolades, Beste is a recipient of the 2015 & 2017 Canada Council for The Arts Grant for Professional Musicians, she was named Jeunes Ambassadeurs Lyriques in Canada (2013-2017) and won the 2013 & 2019 Prix Jeune Espoir du Canada, the 2016 Sylva-Gelber Foundation Award and the 2018 Inaugural Stuart Hamilton Memorial Award.
Beste’s repertoire includes roles such as Flora (La Traviata, Edmonton Opera), Helene (La Belle Helene, Toronto Operetta Theatre), Carmen (Carmen, Calgary Opera), Rosina (I Due Figaro, Voicebox: Opera in Concert), Jade Boucher & Mrs. Patrick DeRocher (Dead Man Walking, Opera On The Avalon), Zerlina (Don Giovanni, Amici Chamber Ensemble), Bianca (The Rape of Lucretia, Banff Centre & Against The Grain Theatre & Canadian Opera Company), Giovanna (Rigoletto, Teatro Comunale di Bologna), Hansel (Hansel and Gretel, CoOPERAtive Program at Westminster), Cenerentola (La Cenerentola, Music Academy of The West), Mercedes (Carmen, Music Academy of The West), Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni), Cherubino (Le Nozze di Figaro), among others.