Magazine article Opera Canada

Wagner

Magazine article Opera Canada

Wagner

Article excerpt

WAGNER

Ben Heppner

Staatskapelle Dresden, Peter Schneider, conductor

Deutsche Grammophon 4776003

Ben Heppner may have always resisted the heldentenor label, but here he is on this latest CD, taking on Siegmund and Siegfried, the most helden of Wagnerian heldentenor roles. Heppner has not sung this music in a full staging, though he's slated to sing Siegfried for Aix-en-Provence, starting in July 2008. He's also presented some of this music before, with "Selige Ode auf sonniger Hoh!" from Act III of Siegfried and "Brunnhilde, heilige Braut" from Act III of Gotterdammerung both on his earlier German Romantic Arias CD. But that was 1998, and this current disc was recorded in Dresden in 2005.

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Let's deal with the bottom line first, which is that this CD shows Heppner at his peerless best, singing (it's worth repeating the word "singing") in a way that brings some of the qualities of bel canto--the richly sustained tone, the beautiful line, the even production across the whole voice--to roles that today are still too often barked out. Admittedly, there's a huge difference between singing these excerpts in the studio and acting them out, but anybody who has seen Heppner sing (let's repeat the word "sing" again, because it's important) Tristan on stage will know what he's capable of in this repertoire. Listen to the Forging Scene from Siegfried on this disc. If, at Aix, he gets even close to the way he sounds here, it will be an awesomely exciting experience. …

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