Ben Heppner has been called the finest dramatic tenor of our time. He's acclaimed in music capitals around the world for his beautiful voice, intelligent musicianship, and sparkling, dramatic sense. Last year, his recording of Berlioz's Les Troyens won the Grammy Award for both Best Opera Recording and Best Overall Classical Recording.
In addition to his professional accomplishments, he's also committed to his family and a devoted follower of Jesus. He's also very interested in the integration of faith and art. Last year, after winning the Chalmers Award (given to Canadians who make outstanding contributions to the arts), he donated the entire $25,000 prize to Brookstone Performing Arts, a Toronto-based theater troupe that connects performing arts with spiritual issues. Heppner's latest CD, Airs Français, was released late last year by Deutsche Grammophon.
How does a kid decide that he's going to be an opera singer when he grows up?
When I went off and left the farm …
Were you really raised on a farm?
Well, for the first eight years.
Milking cows and that kind of stuff?
Well, yeah, when they let me. I really wasn't trained well enough.
I think probably what happened was I don't actually have any marketable skills so, I figured why don't I just be a singer? But I went off to university thinking I could be a music teacher. I somehow wanted to spend my life with music in some way. And the idea of being a performer was the farthest thing from my mind. But when I went there I got sidetracked into the performance program.
And you had already been singing in high school choirs?
Not so much choirs. Where I grew up, singing is something that could get you beat up, not a great acclaim. So I was in the band. I did some singing, mostly through ...1