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Subject: Re: audience expectations and Heppner
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Date:Mon, 24 Nov 2008 12:00:38 EST
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I wasn't at the performance, so I can't comment on it, but I painfully  
recall sitting at a Lohengrin matinee several seasons ago in which we were  
dismayed by the number of times Ben Heppner cracked. It was a broadcast in the  pre 
Sirius era, so I'm sure many on this list remember it. However, not long  
after, Heppner was a superb Florestan at another matinee, so I don't know what  his 
problem was or is, I'm not a singer. I am frankly in awe of all of  these 
brave singers who go out and put themselves on the firing line. This  must be one 
of the hardest things to do in the high pressure world of the  performing 
arts. I've met Ben Heppner, and there isn't a nicer and more modest  singer 
around (or at least there wasn't at that point). He was just toying with  the idea 
of moving into heavier roles at that time.
 
But I would caution listers not to write an obituary for his career. Not  yet 
at least. The history of opera is replete with stories of singers who had  
vocal crises and rose from the ashes of them to be greater than ever. Two of the 
 most fabled singers in history who emerged from severe vocal problems to  
rise to even greater heights were Jenny Lind who was advised not to even speak a 
 word for six months and then retrain with Manuel Garcia II. Lind emerged as 
an  even better singer and went on to achieve a fame unmatched by any singer 
before  or after. And Enrico Caruso whose vocal crisis in 1911 was so serious 
that  Gatti-Casazza tried to hire every top tenor around to replace him. But 
then  Caruso came back bigger than ever. Late in her career, Adelina Patti took  
lessons with Jean De Reszke which no doubt helped to prolong her years before 
 the public.
 
There are other singers who did not recover from vocal crises: Marie  
Cornelie Falcon, Lillian Nordica, Maria Callas, to name just a few. I'm rooting  for 
Ben to make a glorious recovery from what the New York Times called "a  cold."
 
James Camner
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