Tune in to CBC Radio 2 this weekend to welcome Ben Heppner to his new role as host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner.
Heppner, the greatest Wagnerian tenor of the past quarter-century, has been heard numerous times on CBC Radio 2 broadcasts, singing from the stages of the world's leading opera houses. When he takes up his radio hosting duties on Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, music fans will get to know him offstage, and hear his insights as he presents live opera performances on CBC Radio 2, a tradition on Saturday afternoons that dates back to 1939.
Backstage with Ben Heppner airs Saturdays at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. AT, 5:30 NT) and again Sundays at 10 a.m. (10:30 NT). Heppner shares his insider's perspective on the world of opera and concert performance, bringing the music to life with personal stories that are often humorous and always engaging.
In the video below, Heppner talks about opera on the radio, and answers a frequently asked question about being an opera singer.
But wait, you might ask, is he still going to find time to sing?
"Absolutely! There definitely will be time to schedule performances, but the time away will be in shorter blocks and the studio time required for Saturday Afternoon at the Opera will have to figure into the mix," said Heppner via email. "There will be less flexibility during the live Met broadcasts, but it is my intention to do both!"
Chances are, Heppner will eventually face the challenge of presenting one of his own performances on air, a situation he'll handle like a modest Canuck: "Truthfully, I will feel somewhat awkward about being a soloist on a Saturday afternoon broadcast. However, on the positive side, I will feel good about stepping up the Canadian content!"
"I like to think of opera on the radio like baseball on the radio," says Heppner, referring to the paradox of audio-only broadcasts for an art form that relies on costumes, sets and staging. "Without the visuals it may even be better. You can create the scene and staging of your very own inside your own mind."
Heppner says his goal as host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera is to bring people to an operatic town square where he can help them relate to the intense emotions of the music. "Hopefully, I can demystify opera a bit by telling some stories of my experiences while I was an operatic road warrior."
Saturday Afternoon at the Opera is heard Saturdays at 1 p.m. on CBC Radio 2. The summer host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera is Rebecca Hass.
on Jul 15, 2013