Ben Heppner sings Wagner
Ben Heppner
Catalogue No.

On this album, Ben Heppner – recognised as one of the world’s leading Heldentenors – features a selection of the finest excerpts for tenor voice from Wagner’s ‘Der Ring des Nibelungen’. Tracing the life of Wagner’s ultimate hero, Siegfried, from his father Siegmund (‘Die Walküre’) to Siegfried’s youth (‘Siegfried’) and death (‘Götterdämmerung’), the album features famous excerpts including ‘Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond’ and ‘Notung! Notung! Neidliches Schwert’ as well as orchestral excerpts such as Siegfried’s Funeral March. Supported by the excellent Staatskapelle Dresden and accomplished Wagner expert Peter Schneider, a regular guest conductor at the Bayreuth festival since the early 1980s with more than 100 conducted performances, Ben Heppner’s approach to Siegfried’s life is a supreme musical experience for every Wagner lover.


Die Walküre:
Ein Schwert verhieß mir der Vater
Winterstürme wichen dem Wonnemond
Siegmund heiß ich und Siegmund bin ich!

Notung! Notung! Neidliches Schwert!*
Hoho! Hoho! Hohei! Schmiede, mein Hammer, ein hartes Schwert!*
Dass der mein Vater nicht ist– Waldweben (Forest murmurs)
Noch einmal, liebes Vöglein – Nun sing! Ich lausche dem Gesang
Selige Öde auf sonniger Höh! – Das ist kein Mann!

Siegfrieds Rheinfahrt (Siegfried’s Rhine Journey)
Brünnhilde, heilige Braut!
Trauermarsch (Funeral March)

Ben Heppner, tenor
Burkhard Ulrich, tenor*
Staatskapelle Dresden
Peter Schneider

Recording information

Recording Producer: Sid McLauchlan
Balance Engineers: Ulrich Vette, Daniel Schleef
Recording Engineer: Jürgen Bulgrin
Recording Location: Lukaskirche, Dresden, Germany, 26 September–1 October 2005
Recorded, edited and mastered by Emil Berliner Studios


‘Ben Heppner est absolument sans rival parmi les ténors de la scène wagnérienne actuelle. On sait quelles en sont – en plus des qualités naturellement exigées d’un heldentenor: puissance, endurance, large tessiture – les principales raisons: l’approche lente et raisonnée des rôles wagnériens les plus lourds, un chant avisé et nuancé, l’interprétation parallèle d’un répertoire plus léger et belcantiste pour maintenir souplesse et ductilité, et une préparation extrêmement approfondie, tant d’un point de vue musical que dramatique, des différents caractères a interpréter. Le résultat est là: cette émission haute et claire, ce beau timbre intègre, soyeux et brillant à la fois, ce large spectre dynamique impeccablement contrôlée, et cette articulation parfaite sur toute la ligne de chant… Peter Schneider et la Staatskapelle de Dresde délivrent un accompagnement magnifique, extrêmement léché, avec un beau jeu de couleurs et de fondus…’ Timothée Picard, Classica – Repertoire (Paris)

‘This is work of a resourceful, imaginative artist’ John W. Freeman, Opera News (New York)

‘Ben Heppner is not scheduled to make his debut as Wagner’s dwarf-beating, anvil-busting hero until 2008 (Aix, under Sir Simon Rattle) so the present disc will have to suffice as a rain check. It does so because the Canadian tenor (whom we never seem to see in the UK) is in prime vocal form and… is in constant search of original, unhackneyed line readings’ Gramophone

‘… over the last 15 years, certain Wagner roles have been the “property” of Ben Heppner – of all things, a Wagner tenor who, in addition to the requisite power, has what might be called a “conventionally beautiful” voice which he actually uses with some discretion and imagination… It’s a wonderful piece of singing’ Fanfare

‘He seems to have everything – power, stamina, a bright, truly tenorial timbre… and he has grown up vocally, through Walther and Lohengrin into Tristan, at an intelligent pace, while mixing in some Italian roles to keep the voice supple. Now, on this recital, he tackles Siegfried and Siegmund, from what we hear, he’s more than ready for them and Wagnerians should be waiting in line… His combination of lyricism and sheer power are unique today: his cries of “Wälse!” are as brilliant as his “Winterstürme” is caressing and tender. He also never resorts to crooning soft moments; what we hear is a true range of dynamics, in real voice. Here and throughout, his diction is impeccable and the forward placement of his voice brings real urgency to his exclamation. On to Siegfried. Not enough praise can be lavished on his Forging Song. I, certainly, have never heard it sung as effortlessly, energetically, expressively, fearlessly, and with such true boyish joy before. He attacks the music and text heroically – this Siegfried seems indomitable – and his tone never falters: it’s always big and bright… The “Forest Murmurs” shows us an entirely different side of Siegfried, tender and pensive, and Heppner delivers the solo to us with beautiful tone, enraptured… Heppner’s amazement is palpable, and he phrases each mood-change and new sensation with great freshness of tone… Overall, the Staatskapelle Dresden plays with lustre and rhythmic thrust. This is a stunning CD, sure to delight and tease Wagnerians. It gets the highest recommendation.’ International Record Review