Ben Heppner withdraws from the Ring Cycle in New York
New York’s Metropolitan Opera announced on Tuesday that Ben Heppner, the celebrated Canadian tenor, has withdrawn from the role of Siegfried in its production of Wagner’s Ring Cycle. Heppner has apparently retired the role from his repertoire. Anticipation leading up to this performance had been growing since January 2007, when Met general manager Peter Gelb announced that Heppner would sing the role in the Robert Lepage stagings of Siegfried and Götterdämmerung during the 2011-2012 season.
There have been complaints dating back to 2001 that Heppner’s famous voice was not what it used to be. The dramatic tenor managed to bounce back periodically, as at his 2006 concert with the Toronto Symphony and a gala concert that opened the Four Seasons Centre. Heppner, however, withdrew from the Canadian Opera Company’s 60th anniversary concert in 2009 due to illness, and his make-up solo performance last September revealed similar vocal instability. This latest withdrawal leaves us wondering what will become of upcoming COC projects—such as the rumoured François Girard production of Wagner’s Parsifal—that Heppner has signed on for. Heppner’s roles with the Met will be taken over by Gary Lehman and Stephen Gould.