10/04/2013 02:34 EDT | Updated 01/23/2014 06:58 EST

Ben Heppner withdraws from opening of COC's Peter Grimes

The Canadian Opera Company has announced tenor Ben Heppner's withdrawal from Saturday's opening night performance of the dark Benjamin Britten opera Peter Grimes, citing health reasons.

"Mr. Heppner will return to the role for subsequent performances in the COC’s production," the Toronto company said in a statement.

Four-time Grammy Award-winning American tenor Anthony Dean Griffey will take Heppner's place in the title role on Saturday.

Griffey has sung the part numerous times in the past, including at Houston Grand Opera, Opera Australia Glyndebourne, the Metropolitan Opera and elsewhere. The Houston Chronicle described Griffey as giving “a haunting performance as the outcast hero, singing with aching beauty.”

Peter Grimes tells the story of a rough, outcast fisherman who is met with suspicion after the death of his young apprentice.

The COC’s production of Peter Grimes continues until Oct. 26, with seven performances scheduled at the Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts in Toronto.

Considered among the world's top tenors, B.C.-born Heppner has on occasion suffered vocal troubles that have affected him during performances or forced him to postpone or cancel engagements.