(Kristin Hobermann photo)

(Kristin Hoebermann photo)

The CBC announced on Monday that, starting Sept. 7, tenor Ben Heppner is the new host of Saturday Afternoon at the Opera, the long-running weekly broadcast on Radio 2.

Heppner takes over from Bill Richardson, long a witty and amiable presence on Canadian airwaves.

Richardson is an opera fan. Heppner is a practitioner, and should bring depth of knowledge as well as a raconteur’s flair to the host’s chair.

But we have to remember that Heppner remains a working artist, which not only means he’ll needs some Saturdays off, he will not likely be dishing about colleagues or backstage adventures.

“Since 1979, Ben Heppner has moved CBC Radio 2 listeners with his magnificent singing,” declared CBC director of music programming Mark Steinmetz in a press statement. “I’m thrilled that listeners will now hear Ben share his passion for opera as a host. Ben’s warmth, graciousness and in-depth knowledge make him an ideal host.”

Heppner takes over at a time when there is no more Canadian opera being presented on the CBC, due to budget cuts that have severely reduced the number of live performances the public broadcaster records every season.

Around the same time as the famed B.C. native takes up his radio duties, he’ll be starting rehearsals for the Canadian Opera Company’s October production of Benjamin Britten’s Peter Grimes.

John Terauds

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8 Responses to Ben Heppner the new host of CBC Radio’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera

  1. jane harbury says:

    yay Ben – this is wonderful -his knowledge and his humour will prove a great combination

  2. thomas p says:

    Will miss Richardson, but Heppner is a welcome replacement. Now if only Radio 2 would get rid of that irksome, affected puffball who poisons the airwaves weekday mornings in a programme called Tempo. arghhhhhhhhh

  3. Ann Lieuwen says:

    We enjoyed your program immensely. especially the
    last hour of the duets.Sept 7th 2013
    thanks for sharing with us.

  4. Randolph says:

    Does anyone know the fate of Bill Richardson?

  5. Jim Devin of Ontario Canada says:

    The opera programmes with Ben Heppner have been disappointing. His plot summaries are decidedly uninteresting and his backstage insights are superficial and boring. Here is another example of someone with talent in one area wanting to be a renaissance person. Ben Heppner is not a renaissance person. This could only have happened because CBC Radio has no committment to anything but its own mindless survival.

  6. Paul says:

    What can one say about this? CBC ushers in a “celebrity” announcer shortly after deciding that they will no longer broadcast any performances by the Canadian Opera Company. And his aw-shucks, aren’t-I-unprententious persona seems carefully designed to deflate any notion that opera is a serious artform. In fact, it’s a laff riot! The CBC is evil…