Building THE ELLIE LOBBY MAIN HALL OTHER SPACES OPENING NIGHT The STARS MOVERS & SHAKERS CARMEN
Opera Colorado
OPENING NIGHT AT THE ELLIE CAULKINS OPERA HOUSE: BEN HEPPNER, Meistersinger
He is the MASTER SINGER of his generation, the tenor who sings the big, coveted dramatic roles. Greatly in demand as a Wagnerian tenor, he is booked for the next several years at the world's top opera houses. Yet he gladly came to Denver to celebrate The Ellie. [Photo: courtesy of Opera Colorado]

BEN HEPPNER was literally a last-minute addition to the roster of star performers at the grand opening concert. His appearance was packaged as a surprise, revealed to the public only a week before the event. And was everyone thrilled!

In a phone interview with FanFaire he said: "Somebody was chastising me saying, 'You didn't tell us you were doing it.' I said, 'Well I didn't tell because I only decided the week before.' "

It was a decision that made the evening all the more special and Denver a very special place. For Heppner was to have debuted that same evening at Los Angeles Opera as Canio in Leoncavallo's Pagliacci. But in July 2005, he regretfully withdrew from the production, saying he realized that the role no longer suited his voice and therefore had been dropped from his repertoire. On learning about this, Opera Colorado's General Director, Peter Russell, lost no time in signing him up for the inauguration of his company's new home. And so LA Opera's loss became Opera Colorado's gain.

For the first of his two numbers in the evening program, Ben Heppner regaled the audience (many of whom had become fans after hearing him in a recital the previous February at Denver's Newman Center) with his sweetly lyrical yet powerful voice as he sang the triumphant and romantic "Prize Song" from Wagner's Die Meistersinger.

Walther, die Meistersinger, is a role he owns today and loves, but - and this may come as a surprise to many - one that he's giving up performing on the operatic stage. When FanFaire asked him whether this was indeed true, he said:

"Well, interestingly, yes. And it's not for the sake of singing. The love interest is beginning to be the age of my daughter.
And I'm thinking, you know, it's really one of those roles that's for a young man. I don't move like a man of 25; I move like a man who's almost 50. So maybe it's time.... In a sense I don't want to, but I think it's time for the role to be put to bed." Adding, "There are young singers and this is a very good role for them. It takes a lot of endurance, but I think also it's a young man's role - a lot of movement, a lot of action and passion in it. And I think it's time to move on."

But happily for his fans, he will ABSOLUTELY keep Walther's Prize Song in his concert repertoire.

CLICK HERE to hear the background music clip again:
"Morgenlich leuchtend im rosigen Schein" - Walther's Prize Song from Die Meistersinger
(CD4, Track 12 / London #452 606-2 with Georg Solti & the Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
BUY THE CD

His second number was one of the biggest highlights of the evening: his impassioned Otello to Renée Fleming's delicate Desdemona in the dreamy love duet from Act 1 of Verdi's Otello. It is a role Heppner will continue to grow into as the certain heir to the tenor (Placido Domingo) who owns it now. But it was such a brilliant idea to pair two of today's top stars in a duet that they actually perform together on the opera stage.  According to Heppner: " We decided fairly late, and I think it was a suggestion from Peter Russell - because Renée was going to be there and I had just sang that with her in London. So I said 'Absolutely. And... if she's all for it, then I am too.' "

There couldn't have been a more fitting ending to a magical evening of song - Otello/Heppner and Desdemona/Fleming: two stars singing of love, locked arm-in-arm as they gaze upward into the silent, starlit night.


CONTINUE ON TO:

What really happened to Ben Heppner's tuxedo?
Ben Heppner's links to Opera Colorado
What did Ben Heppner think of THE ELLIE?
Ben Heppner on Meistersinger, Tristan, Siegfried, all things operatic and more!

Photo courtesy of Opera Colorado

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THE STARS


RENÉE FLEMING
BEN HEPPNER
JAMES MORRIS
STEPHEN LORD
JAKE HEGGIE
KRISTIN CLAYTON
JUDITH CHRISTIN
JULIAN GAVIN
THEODORA HANSLOWE
CYNTHIA LAWRENCE
ROBERT ORTH
EMILY PULLEY
MARCIA RAGONETTI
GARRETT SORENSON
CHARLES TAYLOR
HAO JIANG TIAN
STEPHEN WEST
YALUN ZHANG
OPERA COLORADO CHORUS

SEASON OPENER:
DENYCE GRAVES

BEN HEPPNER
in FanFaire:

On All Things Operatic

At THE ELLIE:
The Meistersinger
The Missing Tuxedo
Renewing Acquaintances
First Impressions

In Recital
Das Lied von der Erde
German Opera Arias

DISCOGRAPHY



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