The Metropolitan Opera in New York has lost its Siegfried for its costly new production of Richard Wagner’s “Ring” cycle. The company said in a release Tuesday that heldentenor Ben Heppner has withdrawn from the production because the singer “has retired the role from his repertory.”
Heppner’s casting as Siegfried in the Met’s new “Ring” staging was seen as a big draw since it would have been the first time that the Canadian tenor has performed the role with the company. The character of Siegfried appears in the final two operas of the four-opera cycle — “Siegfried” and “Götterdämmerung.”
In recent years, Heppner has suffered vocal problems that have caused him to withdraw from a number of performances. The singer, who turned 55 in January, has long been regarded as one of the world’s top performers of Wagner. But a combination of illnesses and stress is believed to have taken a toll on his voice.
In an interview with The Times before his recent appearance with L.A. Opera in a production of Wagner’s “Lohengrin” he briefly discussed his vocal travails. “It happens,” he said flatly. “There have been some not-great moments in my more recent past. I’m working through it.”
Photo: Marty Umans
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.