Ben Heppner

Biography

Born: January 14, 1956; British Columbia, Canada  
While Heppner considers himself fundamentally a lyric tenor, he has become an eminent Wagnerian, and his Tristan has been hailed as a worthy successor to Lauritz Melchior's. Even after his "second debut" in Wagnerian roles, he still sang the title roles of Mozart's Idomeneo and La clemenza di Tito, complete with ornamentation, and added not only lieder, but popular parlor songs to his recital repertoire. His operatic repertoire also includes Read more Verdi, Massenet, and Puccini, and he is a noted Peter Grimes. While his voice is not as large as that of some of the heldentenors, it has a very bright, focused sound that allows it to carry through even the heavier orchestral writing in Wagner, though it also has a slight tendency to crack, particularly in the longer operas that require high notes towards the end.

Like his compatriot Jon Vickers, also hailed as Grimes and in Wagner, he grew up as a farm boy in Canada (in a town named Dawson Creek, oddly enough). He studied at the University of British Columbia School of Music, and upon graduation, began a career as a lyric tenor, winning the Canadian Broadcasting Competition award in 1979. In 1981, he made his opera debut as Rodrigo in Otello at the Vancouver Opera, and performed such light roles as Camille in The Merry Widow and Alfredo in Die Fledermaus with the Canadian Opera Company. However, in 1987, he returned to study, this time preparing for dramatic tenor roles, and won the first Birgit Nilsson Prize in 1988 in the Metropolitan Opera Auditions. He made his U.S. debut at Carnegie Hall that same year and his United States opera debut was at the Lyric Opera of Chicago in the small role of Walter von der Vogelweide in Tannhäuser in the fall season. As part of the Nilsson Prize, he made his Stockholm debut at the Royal Swedish Opera in 1989 in his first Lohengrin, later traveling with the same company to Moscow to perform the same role at the Bolshoi.

His La Scala debut was in 1990 as Walter von Stolzig in Der Meistersinger, and his Salzburg debut in 1992 as Tito in Mozart's La clemenza di Tito, and later that year he created the title role in William Bolcom's McTeague at the Lyric Opera of Chicago. In 1998, he sang his first Tristan in Seattle with Jane Eaglen as Isolde, to great critical acclaim.

His Walter on Solti's Die Meistersinger (Decca 452 606) is an excellent example of the lyricism that he brings to Wagner, and his recording of Richard Strauss arias on a CBC recording (SMCD 5142) makes some of the most difficult tenor scenes in the entire repertoire seem natural and fluid. His BMG recording of Italian arias (BMG 62504), while focusing on the spinto repertoire, does display his trills to advantage in the scene from Il trovatore.

Heppner sticks hard to his personal rule of taking every other summer off, not doing the usual festival performances, in order to spend more time with his wife and three children and to prepare for opera roles. Read less
Browse 1-25 of 65 Available Recordings
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  • 1.
    Sir Colin Davis - The Complete RCA Legacy
    Label: Rca   Catalog: 300607 Release Date: 04/15/2014   Number of Discs: 51
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Jan-Hendrik Rootering,  Barbara Fleckenstein,  Ben Heppner,  Heinrich Weber  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $119.98
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  • 2.
    Sir Colin Davis - Anthology
    Label: Lso Live   Catalog: 766 Release Date: 04/08/2014   Number of Discs: 13
    Composer:  Hector Berlioz,  Antonín Dvorák,  Sir Edward Elgar,  Jean Sibelius  ... 
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Michelle DeYoung,  Petra Lang,  Sara Mingardo  ... 
    Conductor:  Sir Colin Davis
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  London Symphony Chorus
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  • 3.
    Richard Strauss: Complete Operas
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 002013902 Release Date: 03/25/2014   Number of Discs: 33
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Anneliese Rothenberger,  Cäcilie Reich,  Eva Maria Rogner,  Ira Malaniuk  ... 
    Conductor:  Joseph Keilberth,  Giuseppe Sinopoli,  Karl Böhm,  Sir Georg Solti  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Dresden Staatskapelle  ... 
    Recommendation
    On sale! $259.98
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  • 4.
    Voices of French Opera [5-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 280462 Release Date: 07/16/2013   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Jean-Baptiste Lully,  Jean-Philippe Rameau,  Christoph W. Gluck,  André Modeste Grétry  ... 
    Performer:  Véronique Gens,  Miguel Villabella,  Solange Petit-Renaux,  Patricia Petibon  ... 
    Conductor:  Christophe Rousset,  Maurice Cauchie,  John Eliot Gardiner,  Henri Tomasi  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Les Talens Lyriques,  Les Folies Françoises,  Monteverdi Choir  ... 
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  • 5.
    Wagner: Die Meistersinger Von Nurnberg / Sawallisch, Studer, Weikl,  Lorenz, Pape, Ress
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 390182 Release Date: 03/26/2013   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Hans Wilbrink,  Ulrich Ress,  Friedemann Kunder,  Cheryl Studer  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus
    CD: $32.49
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  • 6.
    Richard Wagner - Great Recordings
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 543504 Release Date: 02/26/2013   Number of Discs: 40
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Deborah Voigt,  Jan-Hendrik Rootering,  Birgitta Svendén  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine,  Erich Leinsdorf,  Marek Janowski,  Joseph Keilberth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Chorus,  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Boston Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 7.
    The Essential Wagner
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 973399 Release Date: 11/06/2012   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Siegfried Jerusalem,  Peter Haage,  Nicolai Gedda,  Reiner Goldberg  ... 
    Conductor:  Robert Heger,  Sir Adrian Boult,  Klaus Tennstedt,  Bernard Haitink  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  New Philharmonia Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $13.99
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  • 8.
    Michel Plasson & L'Opera Francais [38-CD Set]
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 36363 Release Date: 10/09/2012   Number of Discs: 38
    Composer:  Albéric Magnard,  Jules Massenet,  Charles Gounod,  Jacques Offenbach  ... 
    Performer:  Nadine Denize,  Gary Lakes,  José Van Dam,  Hildegard Behrens  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Orféon Donostiarra,  Toulouse Capitole Chorus  ... 
    On sale! $158.98
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  • 9.
    Voices Of German Opera
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40497 Release Date: 07/31/2012   Number of Discs: 5
    Composer:  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Ludwig van Beethoven,  Carl Maria von Weber,  Heinrich Marschner  ... 
    Performer:  Natalie Dessay,  Edda Moser,  Kurt Moll,  Walter Berry  ... 
    Conductor:  Louis Langrée,  Wolfgang Sawallisch,  Berislav Klobucar,  Rudolf Moralt  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment,  Bavarian State Opera Orchestra,  Berlin Symphony Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 10.
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 59835 Release Date: 06/05/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Jules Massenet
    Performer:  Thomas Hampson,  Ben Heppner,  Martine Olmeda,  Jean-Paul Fouchécourt  ... 
    Conductor:  Michel Plasson
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Toulouse Capitole Orchestra,  Toulouse Capitole Chorus,  Bilbao Choral Society
    On sale! $42.98
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  • 11.
    Strauss: Die Frau Ohne Schatten / Sinopoli, Voigt, Heppner
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 662155 Release Date: 04/24/2012   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Richard Strauss
    Performer:  Hanna Schwarz,  Franz Grundheber,  Sabine Hass,  Ben Heppner  ... 
    Conductor:  Giuseppe Sinopoli
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
    CD: $29.99
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  • 12.
    Franz Liszt - Master & Magician
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 775542 Release Date: 07/26/2011   Number of Discs: 26
    Composer:  Franz Liszt,  Franz Schubert
    Performer:  Artur Rubinstein,  Van Cliburn,  Byron Janis,  Philippe Entremont  ... 
    Conductor:  Alfred Wallenstein,  Eugene Ormandy,  Fritz Reiner,  Seiji Ozawa  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  RCA Victor Symphony Orchestra,  Philadelphia Orchestra,  Chicago Symphony Orchestra  ... 
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  • 13.
    James Levine - Celebrating 40 Years At The Met [32 CD Set]
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 1135701354 Release Date: 12/07/2010   Number of Discs: 32
    Composer:  Alban Berg,  Hector Berlioz,  Claude Debussy,  John Harbison  ... 
    Performer:  David Kuebler,  James Courtney,  Hanna Schwarz,  Clifton Forbis  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
    CD: $199.99
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  • 14.
    111 More Classic Tracks [6-CD Set - Limited Edition]
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 001483202 Release Date: 11/09/2010   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Georges Bizet,  Dmitri Shostakovich,  Franz Liszt,  Franz Joseph Haydn  ... 
    Performer:  Géza Anda,  Maurice André,  Stefan Askenase,  Martha Argerich  ... 
    Conductor:  Claudio Abbado,  Karel Ancerl,  Hans Stadlmair,  John Nelson  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  London Symphony Orchestra,  Czech Philharmonic Orchestra,  Munich Chamber Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $24.99
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  • 15.
    Heroes & Villains - Opera's Leading Men
    Label: Decca   Catalog: 001433902 Release Date: 06/01/2010   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini,  Amilcare Ponchielli,  Georges Bizet,  Jules Massenet  ... 
    Performer:  Carlo Bergonzi,  Rolando Villazón,  Nicolai Ghiaurov,  Luciano Pavarotti  ... 
    Conductor:  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Daniele Callegari,  Robin Stapleton,  Sir Colin Davis  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Santa Cecilia Academy Orchestra,  Verdi Grand Symphonic Orchestra Milan,  National Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    On sale! $18.98
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  • 16.
    Waldbuhne Concert - A Romantic Opera Night
    Label: Kultur Video   Catalog: 4533 Release Date: 11/17/2009   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner,  Richard Strauss,  Paul Lincke
    Performer:  Ben Heppner
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
    DVD: $18.99
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  • 17.
    Best Tenor Voices 100
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 06701 Release Date: 10/06/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Pietro Mascagni,  Francesco Cilča,  Umberto Giordano,  Giacomo Puccini  ... 
    Performer:  Franco Corelli,  Corinna Vozza,  Adriana Lazzarini,  Rolando Villazón  ... 
    Conductor:  Gabriele Santini,  Marcello Viotti,  Umberto Berrettoni,  Alain Lombard  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Rome Opera House Orchestra,  Munich Radio Orchestra,  Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 18.
    Wagner: Der Fliegende Hollander / Levine, Voigt, Heppner, Morris
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 7448222 Release Date: 03/03/2009   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Jan-Hendrik Rootering,  Deborah Voigt,  James Morris,  Ben Heppner  ... 
    Conductor:  James Levine
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Metropolitan Opera Orchestra,  Metropolitan Opera Chorus
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  • 19.
    100 Best Tenor Arias
    Label: Warner Classics   Catalog: 242720 Release Date: 02/24/2009   Number of Discs: 6
    Composer:  Giacomo Meyerbeer,  Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart,  Richard Wagner,  Johann Strauss Jr.  ... 
    Performer:  José Carreras,  Fritz Wunderlich,  Siegfried Jerusalem,  Peter Haage  ... 
    Conductor:  Jacques Delacôte,  Berislav Klobucar,  Bernard Haitink,  Heinz Wallberg  ... 
    CD: $19.99
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  • 20.
    Puccini 150: Musik Fur Die Ewigkeit
    Label: Sony   Catalog: 736303 Release Date: 10/21/2008   Number of Discs: 3
    Composer:  Giacomo Puccini
    Performer:  Marco Berti,  Peter Dvorsky,  Nina Rautio,  Renata Scotto  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Gianandrea Gavazzeni,  Carlo Rizzi,  Arthur Fiedler  ... 
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  • 21.
    Weber: Oberon / Conlon, Lakes, Heppner, Voigt
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 54739 Release Date: 10/02/2008   Number of Discs: 2
    Composer:  Carl Maria von Weber
    Performer:  Ludwig Boettger,  Machiko Obata,  Dwayne Croft,  Victoria Livengood  ... 
    Conductor:  James Conlon
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne Gürzenich Orchestra,  Cologne Philharmonic Orchestra,  Cologne State Opera Chorus
    On sale! $33.98
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  • 22.
    Wagner: Die Meistersinger von Nurnberg / Sawallisch
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 09195 Release Date: 02/26/2008   Number of Discs: 4
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Bernd Weikl,  Hans Wilbrink,  Ulrich Ress,  Friedemann Kunder  ... 
    Conductor:  Wolfgang Sawallisch
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian State Opera Chorus,  Bavarian State Orchestra
    Recommendation
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  • 23.
    Wagner / Heppner, Schneider, Staatskapelle Dresden
    Label: Deutsche Grammophon   Catalog: 000641702 Release Date: 05/09/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Burkhard Ulrich
    Conductor:  Peter Schneider
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Dresden Staatskapelle
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  • 24.
    Classic Library - Wagner: Arias & Scenes
    Label: Rca Victor Red Seal   Catalog: 76228 Release Date: 03/28/2006   Number of Discs: 1
    Composer:  Richard Wagner
    Performer:  Waltraud Meier,  Sherrill Milnes,  Ben Heppner,  Jan-Hendrik Rootering  ... 
    Conductor:  Lorin Maazel,  Anton Guadagno,  Sir Colin Davis,  Joseph Keilberth  ... 
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra,  New Philharmonia Orchestra,  Bavarian Radio Chorus  ... 
    CD: $8.99
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  • 25.
    Mahler: Symphonies 1-10, Etc / Bertini, Kölner Rundfunk
    Label: Emi Classics   Catalog: 40238 Release Date: 01/10/2006   Number of Discs: 11
    Composer:  Gustav Mahler
    Performer:  Ben Heppner,  Marjana Lipovsek,  Florence Quivar,  Paul Frey  ... 
    Conductor:  Gary Bertini
    Orchestra/Ensemble:  Cologne West German Radio Symphony Orchestra,  Little Singers Of Tokyo,  Prague Philharmonic Chorus  ... 
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