Ben Heppner

1995 National Arts Centre Award

"When things are going well I feel like I'm flying!" says Ben Heppner. The singer is hailed as the next Canadian destined to follow the great Jon Vickers into the pantheon of heroic tenors. The comparison lies in the quality of Heppner's work and the potential of his career.

After winning the 1988 Metropolitan Opera Auditions, he bypassed the normal "breaking-in" period for singers in regional opera houses and plunged directly into full career, immediately making his debut in Australia as Bacchus in Ariadne auf Naxos. His 1989European debut followed rapidly at the Royal Swedish Opera in the title role of Lohengrin. Within an eighteen-month period he had made his debut at the five top opera houses in the world. His progress has been one of conscious risks, singing parts such as Walther in Die Meistersinger, Florestan in Fidelio ("a killer for tenors," he laughs) and the difficult and complex title role in Britten's Peter Grimes.

He has an enviable reputation in the heldentenor repertoire, to which he is drawn both musically and emotionally. His aim: "To do the highest quality work in the best places."