Poor Ben Heppner. Adored around the world, and a welcome guest on the finest international opera stages, the Brampton-based tenor's Toronto curse won't let up.
I'm sure he hoped as much as the rest of Toronto that, following two aborted Roy Thomson Hall solo recitals over the years, that it would be third time lucky at the Canadian Opera Company's 60th anniversary gala at the Four Seasons Centre on Nov. 7.
But the company sent out a press release this evening announcing that Heppner feels he hasn't sufficiently recovered from a viral infection he caught earlier this month, and, therefore, won't be able to honour his singing engagement.
Moving swiftly, the COC nabbed Mexican star tenor Ramón Vargas as a worthy substitute. Joining him on stage will be Halton Hills-based baritone Russell Braun, who is also at the top of his game.
A COC spokesperson said that there may be a few more names added to the evening. She expected that the evening would maintain the original program mix of French and German operatic excerpts accompanied by the Canadian Opera Company orchestra, led by new music director Johannes Debus. There are no plans to accept ticket returns, she said.
Here is Vargas singing the immortal "Ce gelida mamina" from the spring, 2008 Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini's La Bohème: with Angela Gheorghiu: