LSM Newswire

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Illness forces Ben Heppner to Withdraw from COC 60th Anniversary Concert


For immediate release: October 31, 2009



Toronto, Ontario The Canadian Opera Company (COC) regretfully announces that renowned tenor Ben Heppner is unable to perform at the company's 60th anniversary concert on November 7, 2009 at the Four Seasons Centre for the Performing Arts.  Mr. Heppner has not sufficiently recovered from a viral infection caught in October while singing Tristan in Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

"I caught an infection in London and I had hoped to have fully recovered by this time," says Mr. Heppner.  "Unfortunately, a visit with my doctor and my coach confirmed that I will not be able to give the first-class performance Toronto audiences deserve."

The COC's anniversary concert will take place as planned on Saturday, November 7, 2009 featuring conductor Johannes Debus making his debut as the COC's new Music Director, and the celebrated COC Orchestra.  The company is very pleased to announce that it has secured world renowned artists, tenor Ramn Vargas and baritone
Russell Braun to sing at the concert.  Additional artists will be confirmed early next week.

"We are terribly sad that Ben is unable to perform with us on Saturday.  His presence means a lot to the Canadian Opera Company and we're sorry that he can't be here to celebrate with us," says Alexander Neef, General Director of the COC.  "Fortunately, another one of the world's greatest tenors, Ramn Vargas, was available on short notice and is very pleased to make his debut with us.  And, of course, it is always a pleasure to welcome our good friend Russell Braun back to Toronto.  I am very happy that we have secured some great vocal talent to celebrate the COC's 60th anniversary and Johannes Debus's first appearance as new Music Director.  We know that this new program, along with the wonderful COC Orchestra, will make for a spectacular concert."

Regulars at all the great opera houses of the world, Ramn Vargas and Russell Braun perform extensively with the Metropolitan Opera, La Scala, Vienna State Opera, Paris Opera, the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Munich State Opera, and San Francisco, among many others.

Ramn Vargas is currently performing as Faust in the Metropolitan Opera's production of Robert Lepage's production of La Damnation de Faust.  He returns to the Met in 2010 to sing in a new production of Attila, and next spring performs Werther at the Vienna State Opera and Medea in Corinto at the Munich State Opera.  The Metropolitan Opera has graciously agreed to allow Mr. Vargas to appear at the COC anniversary concert.

This season, Russell Braun makes his role debuts as The Traveller in Benjamin Britten's Death in Venice at the Theater an der Wien in Vienna and as Lescaut in the ROH Covent Garden production of Manon, as well as appearing with the Chicago, Cleveland, Toronto, Ottawa and Vancouver symphony orchestras.

Portions of the evening's program remain unchanged, and additional arias will be performed. The complete program will be announced early next week.

The 60th anniversary celebration on Saturday, November 7 begins with a pre-concert reception at 6 p.m. in the Isadore and Rosalie Sharp City Room at the Four Seasons Centre, followed by the concert which begins at 7 p.m.  All tickets include a complimentary glass of Trius Brut sparkling wine or Peller Estates Icewine.  

To add even more sparkle to the event, a draw for a spectacular 1.26 carat Canadian diamond, valued at $20,000, will be held at the concert.  The Hearts and Arrows brilliant-cut diamond, courtesy of De Beers Canada, originated from the pristine tundra of the Canadian Arctic and has been environmentally and ethically mined, cut, and polished.  Diamond Raffle tickets are $100 each or three for $250 and will be available for purchase at the Four Seasons Centre, 145 Queen St. W. or by calling 416-306-2309.  

Supporting Sponsors of the COC's Diamond Anniversary Concert: BMO Financial Group, Diamond and Schmitt Architects

Wine Sponsor: Andrew Peller Limited

Diamond Raffle Sponsor: De Beers Canada

Russell Braun's appearance is generously underwritten by Earlaine Collins.

The COC is grateful to Colleen Sexsmith for offering her generous financial support to make the other artists' appearances possible.

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