Ben Heppner Retires

Ben Heppner (center) as Tristan is joined by Ryan McKinny (left) as Melot, and Franz-Josef Selig as King Marke (right) in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2013 production of Tristan und Isolde.(Photo: Chris Hutcheson/Canadian Opera Company)
Ben Heppner (center) as Tristan is joined by Ryan McKinny (left) as Melot, and Franz-Josef Selig as King Marke (right) in the Canadian Opera Company’s 2013 production of Tristan und Isolde.(Photo: Chris Hutcheson/Canadian Opera Company)

Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, 58, has announced his retirement from opera and concert work after a 30 year career.

On his website the tenor states, “After much consideration I’ve decided the time has come for a new era in my life. I’m setting aside my career as an opera and concert singer.”

Heppner goes on to thank all of those who have supported him over the years. He is pursuing a new career on radio, as host of a weekly opera program on the CBC.

Heppner became the great hope for Wagnerites, taking on the killing roles of Siegmund, Stolzing and especially Tristan.  After a few performances he realized that Siegfried was not for him.

Heppner’s Lohengrin was at the center of a controversial staging in New York about 10 years ago in a production by Robert Wilson. He also appeared in Otello, Fidelio, Jenufa, The Queen of Spades, Andrea Chenier, Peter Grimes and Idomeneo. Heppner’s burly physique suggested a Canadian woodsman. His power as a singer enabled him to embrace Wagner and Mozart. His recitals included music by Alban Berg along with Italian and Neapolitan Songs, not forgetting the occasional Danny Boy and Wearin’ o’ the Green.

Heppner had a spectacular weight loss leading to his appearances in Berlioz Les Troyens in 2003. He was virtually unrecognizable, but for the sound of his voice at is richest. Alas. As with many of us, the weight loss didn’t last.

Too much weight or too little, Ben Heppner’s was a magnificent career in the most demanding operas. He retained a reputation for kindness and decency offstage. He is a proud father and grandfather. Thank you, Ben. Long may you thrive!

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