Ben Heppner retires role of Siegfried and resigns from Metropolitan Opera Ring Cycle
A Metropolitan Opera press release yesterday announced that Brampton-based Canadian tenor Ben Heppner, who turned 55 a few weeks ago, has resigned from his role as Siegfried in the Metropolitan Opera's ambitious, Robert Lepage-imagined Ring of the Nibelungs cycle.
In the opera Siegfried, the third of the four in Richard Wagner's cycle, Heppner will be replaced by Gary Lehman for the bulk of the performances (Stephen Gould sings the final performance, on May 9, 2012). The two tenors will split Siegfried duties in Götterdämmerung, the final opera, in early 2012. (The curtain rises on the second opera, Die Walküre, on Apr. 22.)
Heppner has sung the role of Siegfried before at the Aix-en-Provence Festival and at the Salzburg Easter Festival in 2009 and 2010.
The widely celebrated tenor has been on a wild vocal roller-coaster ride over the past year. Last April, he opened the new Winspear Opera House in Dallas, Tex. in triumph, in the premiere of Moby-Dick, an opera written for him by American composer Jake Heggie. But then he had vocal problems during a series of concerts at Stratford Summer Music, cut short a solo recital at the Four Seasons Centre in Toronto in September and withdrew from concert performances of Verdi's opera Otello in Europe the following month.
The tenor wrapped up a run in Wagner's Lohengrin under conductor Kent Nagano in Munich last week, and is scheduled to begin a solo-recital tour of Atlantic Canada, beginning in Antogonish, N.S. on Feb. 17.
His next opera engagements are Camille Saint-Saëns' Samson et Dalila in Toulouse, France, in May and Benjamin Britten's Peter Grimes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in June, with conductor Sir Andrew Davis.
Here's a clip of Heppner in Götterdämmerung in Aix-en-Provence in 2009, with Katarina Dalayman as Brünhilde. Simon Rattle conducts the Berlin Philharmonic: