Ben Heppner has announced today that he will be publicly retiring from his illustrious career as one of the world’s most renowned operatic tenors.
In a statement made early this afternoon, Heppner explained, “After much consideration, I’ve decided the time has come for a new era in my life. I’m setting aside my career as an opera and concert singer.”
Heppner was best known for his signature role as Tristan from Wagner’s Tristan und Isolde as well as Verdi’s Otello and Berlioz’s Aeneas. His ability to tackle wide-ranging operas from the German, French and Italian repertoire, and his mastery of the Wagnerian repertoire were unmatched.
Last year, Heppner was hired as the new host for CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner. These duties turned out to be too much to handle for Heppner, alongside his part-time international singing career.
In an interview with CBC news he stated, “I thought I would keep singing part-time […] but I found that being a part-time singer just doesn’t work. It’s a full-time job. No matter how often you sing, if you’re going to sing at a good level, a quality level, you’ve got to keep it up all the time. And I was finding that to be a little bit difficult. So that, plus the fact that I’ve been experiencing a little bit of unreliability in my voice, and that causes some anxieties; I decided it was time.”
He said the decision came to him after a sleepless night the morning of March 21st while he was staying with friends the night before a performance in Vancouver. “It was clear when I looked it right in the eye, there it was, it was an obvious moment.”
As part of his official announcement, Heppner stated, “I wish to thank the countless people who inspired me, supported me and encouraged me to embark on a fantastic journey over the past 35 years. A million thanks to those who hired me. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone who ever bought a ticket.”
“I’m really enjoying my time on CBC Radio as host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner, and look forward to what the future has in store.”
Besides continuing his radio hosting duties as well as giving master classes and opera coaching to a new generation of opera performers, Heppner told the CBC he is looking forward to “being a jurist on a voice competition in Finland later on this year — it’s a very prestigious voice competition. I want to do more of all that.”
Heppner concluded the interview stating “I always thought of Ken Dryden, the goalie for the Montreal Canadians […] he came in […] and became the best goalie right away, and he left at the very height of his career […] and I always thought that was a cool way to go […] I’m not sure if I’ve done that, but sticking around just for somebody else’s satisfaction just doesn’t seem like the right thing to do.”