According to a statement from Heppner's management, released through L.A. Opera, the tenor will no longer be singing the role of Canio.
"After very careful consideration, Ben has decided that the role of Canio no longer suits his voice and has removed it from his active repertoire," the statement read. "He was looking forward to making his debut with L.A. Opera, but he is convinced that Canio would not prove to be the ideal medium."
In engaging Alagna at short notice, L.A. Opera has managed to maintain the star power of the production. Los Angeles audiences will also get to see Alagna perform opposite his wife, soprano Angela Gheorghiu—who plays Nedda—for the second time.
"This is a tremendously exciting opportunity for Los Angeles audiences to enjoy the onstage pairing of Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu again, after their sensational joint debuts here last season," said general director Plšcido Domingo in a statement. "While we were very much looking forward to Mr. Heppner's appearance, we hope to be able to present this very important artist in his company debut at a future time."
The production, designed by Franco Zeffirelli, will also feature Alberto Mastromarino as Tonio and Gregg Fedderly as Beppe. Mariusz Kwiecien and Rod Gilfrey share the role of Silvio. It runs September 11-October 1.