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Ben Heppner (Tenor)

Born: January 14, 1956 - Murrayville, British Columbia, Canada

The Canadian tenor, Ben Heppner, began his musical studies at the University of British Columbia School of Music. He also studied in Toronto. He first gained national attention in 1979 as the winner of the Canadian Broadcasting Company Talent Festival.

In 1987 Ben Heppner sang Straussí Bacchus at the Victoria State Opera in Sidney. In 1988 he also won the Metropolitan Opera Auditions, which led to his USA debut as a state concert for the King and the Queen of Sweden at New Yorkís Carnegie Hall. He sang Bacchus at the Vienna State Opera in 1990. He made his Metropolitan Opera debut in New York as Idomeneo in 1991, and in 1992 sang Dvořák Dimitrij in Munich and W.A. Mozartís Titus in Salzburg.

Ben Heppner has been associated with the Wagner repertoire since 1988, when he won the first Birgit Nilsson prize, and the following year, when he sang the title role in Lohengrin with the Royal Swedish Opera (his European operatic debut) and at the Bolshoi Theatre. He has subsequently sung this role with San Francisco Opera (1989), in Seattle (1994), the Vienna State Opera, and in a new production at the Metropolitan Opera.

Ben Heppner was the subject of a documentary for CBC Television's Fifth Estate, a weekly prime-time news program, in February 1991. He has been a featured soloist on CBC Radio's stereo broadcast of the Toronto Children's Chorus Christmas celebration and, in September 1992, starred in a live CBC broadcast celebrating the tenth anniversary of Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto, where he performed a concert of German arias with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony. He was named a Vanier Award winner for 1994 by the Toronto Junior Board of Trade. In December 1998, CBC television's Something Special featured Ben Heppner in an hour-long portrait of the artist.

Ben Heppner is recognised world-wide as the finest dramatic tenor before the public today. He excels in the most challenging roles, from Wagner's Tristan and Lohengrin to Verdi's Otello and Berlioz' Aeneas. He is acclaimed in music capitals around the world for his beautiful voice, intelligent musicianship, and sparkling dramatic sense. His performances on the opera stage, in concert with orchestra, in recital and on recordings have set new standards in his demanding repertoire.

Ben Heppner's career takes him regularly to the Metropolitan Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Vienna State Opera, Opéra National de Paris, and Lyric Opera of Chicago. He appears with all of the world's leading orchestras and in the most prestigious recital venues.

In August 1998 Ben Heppner sang his first performances of the title role in Tristan und Isolde in a new production for Seattle Opera. The international press was ablaze with accolades for "a Tristan for the new millennium." He subsequently sang this heroic role at the Metropolitan Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, Salzburg Easter Festival, Maggio Musicale Fiorentino and with the Berlin Philharmonic.

Since his La Scala debut in spring 1990 in a new production of Die Meistersinger, Ben Heppner has sung the role of Walther von Stolzing for San Francisco Opera, Bavarian State Opera, Royal Opera Covent Garden, Seattle Opera, Opéra de Marseille, Opéra de Nice, and in a new production for the Metropolitan Opera under the direction of James Levine. He made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera singing the title role in Idomeneo, and has since appeared with that company as Florestan in a new production of Fidelio, Laca in Jenufa, Gherman in a new production of The Queen of Spades with Valery Gergiev, and the Prince in a new production of Rusalka.

Ben Heppner created the title role of William Bolcom's McTeague in 1992 with Lyric Opera of Chicago, where he has also appeared as Calaf in Turandot and the title role of Peter Grimes. Grimes was the role of his debut with both the Royal Opera, Covent Garden and the Opéra National de Paris. He first appeared with the Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires in the title role of Andrea Chenier. His first performances of the title role in Otello were with the Munich Philharmonic and James Levine. His first performances of Aeneas in Les Troyens were with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis; the live recording of those performances won the 2001 Grammy Award both for Best Classical Album and for Best Opera Album. Among his other noteworthy operatic assignments have been Hüon in Oberon at La Scala, Canio in I Pagliacci for the Canadian Opera Company, the Emperor in Die Frau ohne Schatten with the Vienna State Opera, Samson in Samson et Dalila at the Ravinia Festival, and the title role in Dvorak's Dimitrij with the Bavarian State Opera.

In addition to his activities on the operatic stage, Ben Heppner has also been extensively engaged as a soloist with orchestras as a concert artist. His large orchestral repertoire includes Das Lied von der Erde, Arnold Schoenbergís Gurrelieder, Zoltán Kodály's Psalmus Hungaricus, L.v. Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony, Benjamin Britten's War Requiem, and the Verdi Requiem. He has performed these and other works with the Berlin Philharmonic, Vienna Philharmonic, MET Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony, London Philharmonic, Toronto Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Boston Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, and L'Orchestre de la Suisse Romande. Conductors he has worked with include Sir Georg Solti, James Levine, Claudio Abbado, Valery Gergiev, Christian Thielemann, Sir Colin Davis, Daniel Barenboim, Lorin Maazel, Wolfgang Sawallisch, Seiji Ozawa, James Conlon and Mstislav Rostropovich.

Ben Heppner began the 2002-2003 season with a concert of German arias for VARA Radio in Amsterdam with Edo de Waart. He continues with recitals in Canada and the USA, followed by further concerts of German and French operatic repertoire throughout Europe. In the winter he sings Aeneas in a new production of Les Troyens for the Metropolitan Opera. He then sings festival performances of Tristan und Isolde at the Berlin Staatsoper with Daniel Barenboim, and also gives a solo recital at the Staatsoper. Ben Heppner appears in concert in Puerto Rico before returning to Europe for concert performances of Fidelio with the Münchner Philharmoniker and James Levine, and of Les Troyens with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Colin Davis.

Ben Heppner is now an exclusive Deutsche Grammophon artist, and can be heard on that label in the role of Bacchus in a complete recording of Ariadne auf Naxos. His first solo CD for the Yellow Label, Airs Français, is conducted by Myung-Whun Chung and was released in autumn 2001. On BMG Ben Heppner can be heard on several solo discs, including My Secret Heart, Dedication, Ben Heppner sings German Romantic Opera, and Great Tenor Arias. His complete opera recordings include Lohengrin, Turandot, and Fidelio for RCA Red Seal, Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg for both Decca and EMI, Rusalka for Decca, Hérodiade and Oberon for EMI, Der fliegende Holländer for Sony, and Die Frau ohne Schatten for Teldec. He received a Grammy Award in 1998 for his recording of Die Meistersinger on London/Decca records. In Canada, he has won several Juno Awards for his recordings, most recently for Airs Français.

Source: Ben Heppner Official Site; Bakerís Biographical Dictionary of 20th Century Classical Musicians (1997)
Contributed by
Aryeh Oron (September 2002, July 2004)

Recordings of Bach Cantatas & Other Vocal Works




Wayne Riddell


BWV 4, BWV 140

Links to other Sites

Ben Heppner Official Site
Krannert Center . Ben Heppner, tenor
Ben Heppner
Marc Bridle in Interview with Ben Heppner MusicWeb
Ben Heppner on CBC Records

Centre for Cultural Renewal biography of Ben Heppner
Ben Heppner - Interview (La Scena Musicale)
Ben Heppner - From the Heart
The Walmer Centre: A note from Ben Heppner

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