If you think it takes hard work to be an opera singer, Ben Heppner says think again. The star tenor insists that the key to his success is his "laziness." Tongue planted firmly in cheek, the man considered one of today's greatest Wagnerians tells the Paris newspaper Le Figaro that "it requires too much work to sing with power." He continues: "I am convinced that it is easier to sing well than to sing badly."
Heppner — who was in the French capital early this month to perform chunks from Lohengrin, Tristan and Parsifal at the Salle Pleyel — goes on to explain that he tries to sing in his voice's most natural lyrical range rather than attempt to force out a big, stereotypical Heldentenor sound. It seems to be working: Heppner has shown no signs lately of the vocal difficulties that forced him to stop singing completely for six months back in 2002. Incidentally, Heppner is one of the few opera singers who talks openly about his vocal difficulties (Karita Mattila is another). The subject is still taboo among many opera singers.
Right after the New Year, Heppner returns to Canada to perform a series of recitals around British Columbia. Then he's off to Philadelphia at the end of January to sing with Deborah Voigt at the 150th anniversary gala for Philadelphia's Academy of Music, the oldest opera house in the United States.
[What did I say? Sing like James Morris. I assure you, he never breaks into a sweat.]