Benjamin Butterfield - Tenor
University of Victoria
Regarded by the Washington Post as a tenor who sings "…with taste, authority and agility…" and having "… a creamily sweet timbre" (Opera News), Benjamin Butterfield has maintained an enviable position as one of Canada's foremost musical artists.
Recognized for his work in opera, oratorio and recital, Mr. Butterfield's recent engagements have included singing the role of Frère Massée in Messiaen's St. François d'Assise with Kent Nagano and the Montreal Symphony as well as Tamino in the Magic Flute with the Toronto Symphony under Bernard Labadie. He has sung the arias in Bach's St. John Passion for Jan Willem de Vriend with the Residentie Orkest of the Netherlands and the Evangelist for Choeur Ardito in Switzerland under Nicolas Reymond. He also debuted with the Music of the Baroque in Chicago as Damon in Acis and Galatea with Jane Glover. In recital he collaborated with Graham Johnson under the auspices of the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) as well as with Kinza Tyrrell for Art Spring, Lulu Concerts and Mount Royal College in Calgary.
Mr. Butterfield's 2011/ 12 season has included return engagements for Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony under Ragnar Bohlin, the Calgary Philharmonic with Jean-Marie Zeitouni as well as being "…the star amongst the soloists…" (Globe and Mail) in Beethoven's Ninth with the Vancouver Symphony under Andrew Grams. For Timothy Vernon and Pacific Opera Victoria he debuted the role of Grimoaldo in Handel's Rodelinda, and presented the neglected American Art Song of Randy Newman for Toronto Masque Theater as well as at Chamber Music San Juans for a special 9/11 memorial concert with pianist Grisha Krivchenia. Later this season Mr. Butterfield will join the Richard Eaton Singers of Edmonton as well as Vancouver Voices for the St. Matthew Passion and return to the Bethlehem Bach Festival to record under Greg Funfgeld the St. John Passion for Analekta. Future projects include Haydn's Creation in Taipei with the Taiwan National Choir under Agnes Grossmann and with the Society for Sacred Music in New York. He will also sing with Pacific Musicworks in Seattle and present recitals in Ottawa with his wife, Dutch Soprano Anne Grimm.
In a career that has spanned over twenty years, particular highlights have included performing with the San Carlo in Naples and at Epidaurus in Greece in Stravinsky's Persephone with actress Isabella Rossellini, debuting at New York City Opera as Tamino in the Magic Flute, touring throughout Europe with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre and throughout the UK in the Barber of Seville with Welsh National Opera under Carlo Rizzi. He also performed in Britten's War Requiem with the State Orchestra of Thessalonika and the London Symphony Chorus. Other highlights have included several summers at the Carmel Bach Festival in California with conductor Bruno Weil, performances with James Conlon and the Chicago Symphony at the Ravinia Festival, Messiah with the Detroit Symphony under Paul McCreesh and with the Handel and Haydn Society in Boston with Grant Llewellan as well as invitations from Leonard Slatkin and the National Symphony in Washington to perform the music of Mozart and Ravel. Of particular note was participating in the St. Matthew Passion in Tokyo and Matsumoto with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa.
Previous seasons have seen Mr. Butterfield debut with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in Carmina Burana with Bramwell Tovey, present Beethoven's Ninth with the Colorado Symphony under music director Jeffrey Kahane, debut with L' Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg in L'enfance du Christ and perform at Le Théatre du Capitôle (Toulouse) in the Barber of Seville under Claudio Desderi. He has also sung under Sir Andrew Davis in Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet with the Toronto Symphony, in Gurrelieder with Jukka Pekka Saraste, also in Toronto, sing under Pinkas Zuckerman at the National Arts Center in Ottawa as well as with the New York Collegium under Andrew Parrott in one-on-a-part readings of Handel's Dixit and Nisi Dominus. Under Sir Nicholas McGegan he has performed in the St. Matthew and St. John Passions with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, performed in Schmidt's Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln at the Toronto International Choral Festival, performed in Penderecki's Polish Requiem with the Vancouver Bach Choir and portrayed the Mad Woman in Britten's Curlew River at Festival Vancouver under Bruce Pullan and director Kico Gonzales Risso.
Other engagements in opera have encompassed roles in Eugene Onegin, the Rake's Progress, Cunning Little Vixen, Don Giovanni, Die entführung aus dem Serail, Tamerlano and Semele with the Canadian Opera Company, L' Opera Nationale de Montpellier, Arizona Opera, L' Opera de Montreal, Vancouver Opera, Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Canterbury Opera in New Zealand.
Film and TV credits include Dido and Aeneas with the Mark Morris Dance Company and Tafelmusik, Burnt Toast with the Esprit Orchestra, L'enfant et les sortileges with the Montreal Symphony and Charles Dutoit, Handel's Messiah for ZDF in Halle with the English Concert under Trevor Pinnock and Bach's B minor Mass with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem for PBS. He is also heard regularly on CBC Radio.
Of his more than twenty-five recordings, the Britten Serenade (CBC/ Streatfeild), Canticles (Marquis/ Aldeburgh Connection), Everlasting Light (CBC/ Adams) and Messiah Choruses (CBC/ Taurins) have been recognized by the Canadian Juno Awards while his recording of Psalm 80 by Roussel (Timpani/ Tovey) won a Diapason and Classica award in France. He has also recorded Brahms and Schumann Liebeslieder (CBC/ Aldeburgh Connection), the music of Bach, Beethoven, Schütz and Haydn (Koch International/ American Bach Soloists, Jeffrey Thomas), Opera Encores (CBC/ Bradshaw), Weinachts-Oratorium (Dorion/ Funfgeld) and the Bach Magnificat (Analekta/ Funfgeld). Benjamin also maintains an ongoing association with the Ukrainian Art Song Project recording each summer the works of the Ukraine's foremost composers of Art Song. Collections available to date are the songs of Stetsenko, Lysenko and Stepovij.
Prof. Butterfield is Head of Voice for the School of Music at the University of Victoria in British Columbia and he also teaches and performs at summer vocal training programs, including Opera Nuova (Edmonton), Opera on the Avalon (St. John's), the Amalfi Coast Music Festival (Italy) and VISI (Vancouver). March, 2011