In her formative years, Gretel Coetzee learned to play the piano and violin, but didn’t pursue singing seriously. She studied B.Mus. at the University of the Free State (1990-1993). However, during her studies she started voice training as an extra subject, under Margaret van der Post. During this time she became a member of the PACOFS opera chorus, and also took part in the PACOFS youth concerto festival. Gradually singing became her main focus.
Taking up a teaching post, she also continued her vocal training with Eric Muller. Eric’s knowledge of good diction and pronunciation proved invaluable, especially with German and Italian.
A time in England followed, during which she continued her training under Peter T. Harrison, and also performed in opera and oratorio. Peter helped her on the road to free to voice, developing strength and flexibility. Recently she had an opportunity to visit him again for a time of intensive training at his voice studio in Oporto, Portugal.
Back in South Africa, she performed regularly in Cape Town, also training under Marita Napier.
In 2002 the family settled in Windhoek, Namibia. Here she performed as soloist in the Saint-Säens Oratorio de Noel, Brahms Requiem, Vivaldi Gloria and Mozart Requiem.
Her opera performances include the following: Madame Silberklang (Schauspieldirektor), Die Erste Dame (Zauberflöte), Fiordiligi (Così fan Tutte), Flora (La Traviata), Violetta(understudy) and Rosalinde (Die Fledermaus).
She regularly collaborates with the Namibian Chamber Ensemble and is also an avid Lieder recitalist.
In the beginning of 2010 she made a recording of lullabies in German, Afrikaans, English and isiZulu, titled Thula Baba.
Gretel is also a voice teacher and educator. She is passionate about encouraging good singing among young people. Inspired by the teaching philosophy of Frederick Husler, Yvonne Rodd-Marling, and Peter T. Harrison, she aims to help her students to achieve vocal freedom. The Husler/Rodd-Marling teaching philosophy draws on knowledge of the intricate anatomy of the voice and its relation to the rest of the body.
Each student poses different challenges, and it is very rewarding to witness how voices as well as personalities achieve increasing freedom.