Artist Profile: Ben Heppner, A Canadian Heldentenor

By David Salazar

Ben Heppner was one of the great heldentenors of his time.

Born on Jan. 14, 1956 in Canada, he studied at the University of British Colombia and was already known internationally by the time he was 23 when he won the top prize at the Canadian Broadcasting Company Radio Competition for young performers.

He then headed to Toronto and studied at the University of Toronto, where he won a spot as a member of the Canadian Opera Company’s Ensemble.

In 1988, he was one of the winners of the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and that same year he made his Carnegie Hall debut; he also won the Birgit Nilsson Prize in 1988. A year later he made his debut at the Royal Swedish Opera and in 1989 he was at the Teatro alla Scala for the first time.

Heppner has won many honors from his native country and was also made an Honorary Doctor by seven different universities.

He retired from performing in 2014 though he made a return during the 2018-19 season for a cameo in the world premiere of “Hadrian” at the Canadian Opera Company.

Signature Roles

Heppner was undeniably the Wagnerian tenor of his prime years, dominating such operas as “Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg” and “Tristan und Isolde.” He was also a noted “Lohengrin” interpreter. His discography includes recordings of five complete Wagner operas, including “Meistersinger” and Lohengrin two times apiece. There is also a DVD release of his “Tristan” at the Metropolitan Opera.

Read More on Heppner

A Look at some choice quotes

Watch and Listen

Here is an album dedicated to music of Wagner.

And here he sings great tenor arias.


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