V0384. BEN HEPPNER, w.Craig Rutenberg (Pf.): Songs by Beethoven, Schumann, Liszt & Strauss. RCA 63104, recorded 1998. Final Sealed Copy! - 090266310425
“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 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 toward the end.
He 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 DIE 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.”
- Anne Feeney, allmusic.com