Longtime Canadian opera singer Ben Heppner announced he's retiring from the stage to start a new chapter in his life.
"After much consideration, I've decided the time has come for a new era in my life," Heppner said in a statement on his official site yesterday. "I'm setting aside my career as an opera and concert singer.
"I wish to thank the countless people who inspired me, supported me and encouraged me to embark on a fantastic journey over the past 35 years. A million thanks to those who hired me. Most important, I want to thank everyone who ever bought a ticket."
"I'm really enjoying my time on CBC Radio as host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera and Backstage with Ben Heppner, and look forward to what the future has in store."
The singer also took to Twitter to break the news as well as add his own thoughts.
According to his site, Heppner's final performance was in Vienna last December in the Benjamin Britten opera Peter Grimes. Heppner also performed in the same opera last October in a production by the Canadian Opera Company. However, CBC reported at the time he was forced to withdraw for one performance citing health reasons.
It was the CBC which helped get Heppner's career off the ground when he won the CBC's Talent Festival in 1979 after studying music at the University of British Columbia. Over his career Heppner won several Juno and Grammy Awards for his work. In 2002 the singer became an Officer of the Order of Canada.
Although he never hinted at retiring in a Toronto Star interview last October, Heppner revealed how he would like to go out as an opera singer. "I have no idea how many years I have left," he said. "But when the time comes, I want to be like [Montreal Canadiens goalie] Ken Dryden. He came in on a high and went out on a high. I prefer to control my own fate like that, instead of suddenly realizing nobody wants you anymore."
Heppner's last proper solo album was in 2006 entitled "Excerpts From 'The Ring Of The Nibelung.'"