Lisa van der Ploeg’s rich, lustrous sound and electrifying stage presence have captivated audiences, displaying a remarkable variety in over 45 roles such as Santuzza in Cavalleria Rusticana, Azucena in Il Trovatore, Mother in Amahl and the Night Visitors, Amneris in Aida, and the Witch and Mother in Hansel and Gretel.


Lisa has been featured as the soloist for Mahler’s Symphony No. 2 with the Tulsa Symphony under the baton of Benjamin Zander, the Verdi Requiem with the Berkeley Community Chorus and Orchestra, with Ming Luke conducting and Mendelssohn’s Die Erste Walpurgisnacht with the Master Sinfonia and David Ramadanoff conducting.  Highlights of recent seasons include performances of a staged production of Mendelssohn’s Elijah with San Jose State University, Handel’s Messiah with the Stockton Chorale and the Auburn Symphony, and solo performances with Chora Nova and the San Francisco Bach Choir.  She performed the Western premiere of Chinese composer Tony Fok’s Ask the Earth and the Sky, an oratorio work about the Sent-down Youth Movement of China. Upcoming performances for the 2018-19 season include the role of Maggie in David Conte’s Gift of the Magi, performances as the alto soloist in Handel's Messiah, and the alto solo in Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody.


Lisa’s operatic performances spans the repertoire, from Handel to Verdi. Hers is a large, dramatic voice capable of great nuance and heartfelt communication, as well as impeccable comedic timing. In addition to those above, some of her favorite roles performed include Dido in Dido and Aeneas, Suzuki in Madama Butterfly, Mother Abbess in The Sound of Music, Katisha in The Mikado and the title roles in Giulio Cesare and Orlando. Her extensive concert repertoire is equally diverse, additional highlights of which include the Bach B-minor Mass, the Mozart and Duruflé Requiem, Symphony No. 9 by Beethoven, and Dvorak’s Stabat Mater. Of her performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3, the Herald Times called Lisa a “voice of substance…[she] appeared not only in full vocal control, but immersed.” A favorite of the West and Midwest regions, Lisa has performed with Utah Festival Opera, Tulsa Symphony, Dayton Philharmonic, Indianapolis Symphony, Stockton Symphony, San Francisco Opera Center, and Intermountain Opera among many others, working with conductors including Raymond Leppard, Daniel Hege, and Neal Gittleman, who described the Mahler Rückert Lieder as “tailor made for the richness of Lisa van der Ploeg’s voice and the intelligence of her singing.”


Born in California, Lisa grew up in Denmark before returning to the U.S. where she was encouraged to pursue studies in classical voice. One of her first professional appearances included performances with Maestro Raymond Leppard and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in the Barber of Seville and the Three Cornered Hat and she made her West Coast debut with the San Francisco Opera Center/Merola Program in the title role of Carmen, which she toured nationally with the Western Opera Theater. Upon sending their twin-boys off too college, she and her husband moved their “empty-nest” from California to the Mid-West.


Sharon Brook

Lecturer/Staff Accompanist Emeritus

School of Music and Dance

San Jose State University

I had the distinct honor of witnessing Lisa's teaching, as well as her performing, at San Jose State University, for 5 years. As her collaborative pianist, I accompanied both Lisa's studio, as well as herself, in lessons and in recitals. She was a consummate professional who understood the physiology of vocal production, was fluent in the diction of several languages and was conversant with the vast vocal repertoire. 


She had an amazing ability to create a calming atmosphere with every student, thus allowing them to free up their breath, as well as any body tightness. Her sense of serenity, as well as her passion for the music at hand, was infectious. I often played for her late in the afternoon, after a long day of teaching and accompanying. And I always left her lessons recharged, and enthused by her unique, customized vocalises or her interpretation of a Lied.


Listening and watching Lisa perform is a rarefied treat: her satiny, mellow mezzo voice sounds so natural, and rivets her audiences. Her sense of drama and passion - whether it be singing a Brahms' "Zigeunerlieder” in a staged production of "Elijah" - always communicates deeply. Even during voice lessons, when she would illustrate a particular phrase in a song, her timbre was breathtaking.


To top off her prodigious talent, Lisa's nurturing and upbeat personality make her a natural teacher. I witnessed so many success stories among her students - in terms of their vocal development and their stage presence: a true testament to her teaching. All of us in the School of Music and Dance were so saddened by her leaving ...


But California's loss is Indiana's gain! Lisa is a gem.

Lynelle Wiens

Program Director and Professor of Voice, Emerita

Conservatory of Music

University of the Pacific

Lisa van der Ploeg  is an outstanding singer/performer and voice teacher.   She was an exceptional voice student of mine at the University of the Pacific, and was the first person I thought of when I was looking for someone to teach for me when I took my most recent sabbatical.


Lisa creates a positive, supportive and encouraging learning atmosphere in her studio.  She quickly spots technical issues that need to be addressed and comes up with clear, insightful strategies to overcome those problems.  She makes learning fun and is dedicated to the growth of each and every student.  She is a real GEM!!!   

© 2021 by Lisa van der Ploeg. Photos: Isaac Pugh. Site design: Kristina Driskill