The Enright Files: Opera singers on their place in a grand tradition

Opera may have a reputation as being highbrow and snooty but it was intended as popular entertainment — music for everyone. On this episode of The Enright Files, conversations with opera singers about their art and their place in a grand tradition.

Many of the best opera singers are Canadian — Measha Brueggergosman, Barbara Hannigan and Ben Heppner

Ben Heppner performing as Tristan in the opera Tristan und Isolde in New York, 2008. (Seth Wenig/AP Photos)
Listen to the full episode53:59

Opera may have a reputation for being the domain of the highbrow — a marker of the snootiest kind of sophisticated and affluence.

But it hasn't always been that way. In the 19th Century, for example, Italian and French opera were sneered at by the populist entertainment for the hoi polloi. 

The same music is as transcendent today as it was then.

Barbara Hannigan (left) in the role of Agnes for the opera "Written on skin" by George Benjamin in the Prinzregenten Theater House in Munich, southern Germany, 2013. (Matthias Schrader/AP Photos)

The greatest opera singers in the world turn the words and music of Verdi, Puccini, Wagner, Bizet and others into some of the most sublime sounds one will ever hear. 

Many of the best opera singers today happen to be Canadians who hail from places very distant from the world's most celebrated concert halls.

This month on the The Enright Files: conversations with opera singers about their art and their place in a grand tradition.

Guests in this episode:

** The Enright Files is produced by Chris Wodskou.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.