Ben Heppner performs at the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium on Nov. 15 at 8 p.m. (SUBMITTED PHOTO)
Ben Heppner, one of Canada’s gifts to the opera world, is giving a recital in Brandon. This world-renowned tenor has garnered Juno and Grammy awards, has more than 30 audio recordings and DVDs to his credit, was named a Companion of the Order of Canada and has been the object of countless standing ovations.
Not only has he sung on all the major classical and operatic stages and with all the important companies, such as the Metropolitan Opera in New York, La Scala in Milan and the Paris Opera, he also enjoys sharing his vocal talents in smaller venues in his home country. Canadian sports fans were treated to Heppner’s contribution — the "Olympic Hymn" — during the closing ceremonies for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
"This is a rare opportunity for Western Manitobans to experience the vocal beauty and dramatic power of Canada’s operatic superstar Ben Heppner," said Franz Lehrbass, the general manager of the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium.
Before coming to Brandon, Lehrbass was a CBC radio producer and had the opportunity to work with Heppner during the production of the oratorio "The Book of the Seven Seals." It had featured other soloists and the Toronto Symphony Orchestra at Massey Hall.
"Onstage, Ben’s a power-house performer, but backstage he’s one of the most down-to-earth guys you’ll ever meet. Even though Ben’s an international star, he still hasn’t forgotten his roots," said Lehrbass.
Though Heppner is not from this area — he was born and raised in B.C.— he was in Brandon in 1980 for the Eckhardt-Gramatté National Music Competition, at which he was a prize winner. This and his win of the CBC Talent Festival were some of the early career steps that propelled him into the international stage.
This past summer, he toured the United Kingdom, with stops at the Edinburgh International Festival and Covent Garden, with the Welsh National Opera. Later this season, audiences in Toronto and Houston will have a chance to hear him bring composer Richard Wagner’s character Tristan to life, a role he has made his own in North American and European productions of "Tristan and Isolde."
"We are tremendously excited and honored to have this opportunity to host Ben Heppner," said Michael Kim, Dean of the School of Music, the co-sponsor of this performance.
"He is one of the world’s greatest dramatic tenors, and his presence in our community will be a very rare opportunity for all of us to experience firsthand the exceptional power and beauty of this legendary artist."
Past rural Canadian tours have taken this world-class vocal artist to northern venues as well as to Western Canadian and Ontario cities. This fall, he has set his sights on Manitoba. For his Brandon performance, Heppner has chosen to interpret songs and arias by Schubert, Wolf, Schumann, Coward, among others.
The recital, featuring Ben Heppner with collaborative pianist John Hess, will take place at 8 p.m., Nov. 15, in the Western Manitoba Centennial Auditorium. Tickets are $47 for adults (group of 10 or more $40 each) and $25 for students (group of 10 or more students $20 each) and are available through the box office website — wmca.ca — or by calling 204-728-9510.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 26, 2012