May 30, 2004

A night at the Met

No, not the Metropolitan Opera, but darn close, as my own church, the Metropolitan Bible Church of Ottawa hosted operatic tenor Ben Heppner in an eclectic mini-concert. My understanding, though I could well be wrong, is that he was there to lend a hand to a ministry which our church supports, and in which Mr. Heppner's daughter is involved.

After a worship set, Mr. Heppner took the platform. He opened with a rendition of Noël Coward's "I'll Follow My Secret Heart." This was followed by two classical selections: "Non t'amo più" by Tosti and the popular Puccini aria "Nessun Dorma" [MIDI] from Turandot. The remainder of the repertoire was sacred music, beginning with the spiritual "Ride On, King Jesus," and then a selection of great hymns of the faith, including "Praise to the Lord, the Almighty," "I Will Sing of My Redeemer," and "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing." He was accompanied by his daughter on the piano. In between pieces he spoke briefly about his work, his family, and his faith.

I had a chance after the service to talk briefly with Mr. Heppner, and he seemed quite happy to answer my questions about his repertoire (which helped me immensely in preparing this synopsis, as my retention of Italian song titles typically lasts about ten seconds).

Speaking as a very occasional songleader and a fair-to-middling choral singer, it is quite a humbling experience to hear one of the truly great tenors singing on the same stage. Maybe it just gives me something to strive for. Nonetheless, it was a wonderful and uplifting evening - arguably a once-in-a-lifetime experience.