The COC presents Peter Grimes. A scene from the Houston Grand Opera production, 2010. Photo: Felix Sanchez
Ben Heppner Photo: Kristin Hoebermann
HEPPNER ON PETER GRIMES
A S I A N I N S P I R E D. D I S T I N C T LY C A N A D I A N.
BY SUZANNE VANSTONE
ollowing his deserved ovations in Tristan und Isolde last season, celebrated tenor Ben Heppner returns to the COC to portray one of the most iconic roles in 20th-century opera – Peter Grimes. Benjamin Britten’s masterful composition of a tormented fisherman shunned by an unforgiving society is a favourite of Heppner’s, and he has performed the role worldwide in over 40 performances in seven productions. In fact, as soon as the curtain comes down in Toronto in October, he is off to do it again in Vienna.
The role is a complex one to perform, balancing Grimes’s often raging persona with a softer, wounded man who, because of the death of his young apprentice, is forced to defend himself against those who have already decided his guilt. Heppner feels that, “If you try to soften him too much, he can appear whiny. You have to have the confidence to be disliked. Grimes is not a likeable character in many ways. From the beginning he comes across as being self-righteous, railing, ‘No. I want to explain myself in court. Don’t leave me to
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Canadian Opera Company 2013/2014 Season
House program for the Canadian Opera Company's 2013 production of Peter Grimes.