Ben Heppner Withdraws from Los Angeles Phil's 'Sibelius Unbound'

Classic Arts News   Ben Heppner Withdraws from Los Angeles Phil's 'Sibelius Unbound'
Still suffering the after-effects of a bout of flu last weekend that caused him to abandon a concert halfway through, tenor Ben Heppner has withdrawn from his performances at Walt Disney Concert Hall this week in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's "Sibelius Unbound" festival.

On Saturday (Oct. 20), singing the title role in Elgar's oratorio The Dream of Gerontius with the Vancouver Symphony, Heppner became ill and had to withdraw from the performance at intermission and go to a hospital. A tenor who had sung the part happened to be in the audience and was recruited to complete the concert in Heppner's place.

At the L.A. Phil's concerts on Thursday and Friday (Oct. 25 and 26), in the final program of the festival, Heppner was to sing a set of Sibelius's Swedish-language art songs in orchestrations by John Estacio. Replacing the songs on the program in Los Angeles will be the "Death of M_lisande" movement from Sibelius's incidental music to Maurice Maeterlinck's play Pell_as et M_lisande (the source for Debussy's opera).

Heppner's manager told Playbill Arts this evening that the tenor is now recovering at home in Toronto and that he will perform with Salonen and the Philharmonic on November 5 and 10, when they bring "Sibelius Unbound" to the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Barbican Centre in London. Meanwhile, Heppner's next scheduled appearance is on November 1 in Berlin, performing Mahler's Das Lied von der Erde with bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff and the Berlin Philharmonic under the baton of Simon Rattle — a program which they'll repeat in New York's Carnegie Hall (November 14) and Boston's Symphony Hall (November 19).

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