back to top

Biography 1825 words

Download biography as pdf Download biography as word doc

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 is equally at home in the opera and concert repertoire having performed with companies from New York to San Francisco, Toronto to Vancouver; London, Paris and Rome to Israel and Taiwan. Mr. Butterfield’s 2014-2015 season opens with performances of Mime in Pacific Opera Victoria’s production of Das Rheingold. Mr. Butterfield continues his season with symphonic engagements including Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with the Victoria Symphony, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with the San Diego Symphony under Mo. Jahja Ling, Handel’s Messiah with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec under Bernard Labadie, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Elgim Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Grams. Mr. Butterfield’s engagements for the 2013 – 14 season included an appearance in Sorrento, Italy through the Amalfi Coast Music Festival with pianist Vlad Iftinca. He opened the season for the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellan in Beethoven&rsquo

read more...

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 is equally at home in the opera and concert repertoire having performed with companies from New York to San Francisco, Toronto to Vancouver; London, Paris and Rome to Israel and Taiwan.

Mr. Butterfield’s 2014-2015 season opens with performances of Mime in Pacific Opera Victoria’s production of Das Rheingold. Mr. Butterfield continues his season with symphonic engagements including Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem with the Victoria Symphony, Haydn’s Mass in Time of War with the San Diego Symphony under Mo. Jahja Ling, Handel’s Messiah with the Vancouver Chamber Choir, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with the Orchestre Symphonique de Québec under Bernard Labadie, and Beethoven’s 9th Symphony with the Elgim Symphony Orchestra and conductor Andrew Grams.

Mr. Butterfield’s engagements for the 2013 – 14 season included an appearance in Sorrento, Italy through the Amalfi Coast Music Festival with pianist Vlad Iftinca. He opened the season for the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellan in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as well as presenting recitals with Arthur Rowe for the Jeffrey Concerts in London, Ontario, for the Edmonton Recital Society with Peter Dala, toured throughout British Columbia with Sarah Hagen and performances with Chamber Music Kelowna of On Wenlock Edge with the Lafayette String Quartet. Mr. Butterfield also performed with the Victoria Symphony in Bach’s Christmas Oratorio and in their annual New Years Day concert singing the music of Franz Lehar as well as presenting Messiah with the University Musical Society in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Other performances have included the Mahler/ Schoenberg Das Lied von der Erde with the University of Victoria music school faculty, Haydn’s Creation for the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Janacek’s remarkable The diary of one who disappeared for the Soundings series at the Nasher Sculpture Center in Dallas and    A talent to amuse: the music of Noel Coward for Music in the Morning in Vancouver, BC. 

Recent highlights have included the debut of Jeffrey Ryan’s Afghanistan: Requiem for a Generation with the Calgary Philharmonic, Britten’s St. Nicholas with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem, Die Schöpfung with the Orchestra of St. Lukes at Carnegie Hall, the Mozart Requiem with Alberta Ballet as well as the Victoria Symphony and Mozart and Rossini arias with the American Classical Orchestra at Lincoln Center.  Other recent debuts have included Chicago’s Grant Park Festival with Carlos Kalmar in Haydn’s The Season’s where he “…brought a vibrant, plangent timbre to his solos” (Chicago Classical Review) and  “…blended beautifully in [the] Autumn duet” with soprano Layla Claire (Chicago Tribune). He was also invited to join the faculty of Yellow Barn chamber music festival in Vermont to perform, amongst other works, Britten’s Canticle III with Stephen Stirling and to make a live CD recording of the Mahler/ Schoenberg Das Lied von der Erde. Mr. Butterfield also debuted with “ [a] rich tenor” (Seattle Times) at the Seattle Symphony under Gerrard Schwartz and with the Eugene Symphony under Danail Rachev in Mozart’s Requiem. He also performed in Christopher Butterfield’s Contes pour enfants pas sage with Continuum in Toronto “…wonderfully tuneful and especially authoritative…” (Barczablog.com) and with the Grand Philharmonic Choir of Kitchener-Waterloo in the St. Matthew Passion (Evangelist). He also launched his fourth CD with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem for the Analekta label (St. John Passion - Arias), returned to sing with the Taiwan National Choir in Puccini’s Messa di Gloria under Agnes Grossman, toured Canada and the US with Montreal’s Theater of Early Music in works of Purcell and Handel, where “ [it] was hard not to be immediately struck by the ease and passion of his delivery and the dazzling tone purity” (Winnipeg Free Press), as well as presenting Gavin Bryar’s Eight Madrigals with the composer for Aventa and the Victoria Symphony.

In opera, performances have included debuting the Handel roles of Grimoaldo in Rodelinda and Jupiter in Semele for Timothy Vernon and Pacific Opera Victoria, 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 also played Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni with Calgary Opera and participated in the Vancouver Opera Companies 50th Anniversary Gala under Jonathan Darlington singing works by Mozart, J Strauss and Bizet.

On the concert stage Mr. Butterfield has performed with the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl in Carmina Burana with Bramwell Tovey and in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Vancouver Symphony under Andrew Grams where he was “…the star amongst the soloists…” (Globe and Mail). In Europe he sang the arias in Bach’s St. John Passion for Jan Willem de Vriend with the Residentie Orkest of the Netherlands and the St. John Passion Evangelist for Choeur Ardito in Switzerland under Nicolas Reymond. Other engagements included Chicago’s Music of the Baroque with Jane Glover and the Ravinia Festival with the Chicago Symphony under James Conlon. Mr. Butterfield returned for Messiah with the San Francisco Symphony, the Calgary Philharmonic with Jean-Marie Zeitouni as well as Beethoven’s Ninth with the Colorado Symphony under Jeffrey Kahane. He also presented the neglected American art song of Randy Newman for Toronto Masque Theater.

In a diverse career with over 30 recordings to his credit, particular highlights have included performances at the San Carlo in Naples and at Epidaurus, Greece in Stravinsky’s Persephone with actress Isabella Rossellini, performances at the BBC Proms and at Carnegie Hall, debuting at New York City Opera as Tamino in The Magic Flute as well as touring with that company to Spain. Other tours included performances throughout Europe with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre and Trevor Pinnock with the English Concert. He also toured throughout the UK in the Barber of Seville with Welsh National Opera under Carlo Rizzi, sang the role of Wilhelm Meister in Mignon and Almaviva in the Barber of Seville at Le Capitole in Toulouse and performed Britten’s War Requiem with the State Orchestra of Thessalonika and the London Symphony Chorus. Other highlights have included performances at Houston Grand Opera and at the Palace of Versailles with Canada’s Opera Atelier, several summers at the Carmel Bach Festival in California with Bruno Weil, 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.

Other performances of note include L'enfance du Christ with L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg under Frederic Chaslin, Handel’s Jephtha in Paris and Berlin with the RIAS Kammerchor and Haydn’s The Seasons with Yannick Nezet Seguin and L’ Orchestre Metropolitain in Montreal. He also sang with the Toronto Symphony under Sir Andrew Davis in Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet and Gurrelieder with Jukka Pekka Saraste. With Pinkas Zuckerman and the National Arts Center in Ottawa he sang in the Black and White Opera Gala and with the New York Collegium under Andrew Parrott he presented one-to–a-part readings of Handel’s Dixit and Nisi Dominus. Under Nicholas McGegan he has performed in the St. Matthew and St. John Passions with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and the 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. Of particular note was being a part of the St. Matthew Passion in Tokyo and Matsumoto with the Saito Kinen Festival Orchestra under Seiji Ozawa.

Engagements in opera have encompassed roles in Eugene Onegin, Die Fledermaus, The Rake's Progress, Cunning Little Vixen, Don Giovanni, Die entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflote and Tamerlano with the Canadian Opera Company, L' Opera Nationale de Montpellier, Arizona Opera, L' Opera de Montreal, Vancouver Opera, Edmonton Opera, Glimmerglass Opera Festival and Canterbury Opera in New Zealand.

In recital he has performed at Chamber Music San Juans for a special 9/11 memorial concert with pianist Grisha Krivchenia, presented recitals in Ottawa at the Ottawa Chamber Music Festival and the Music and Beyond Festival with his wife, Dutch Soprano Anne Grimm, has collaborated with Graham Johnson under the auspices of the Vancouver International Song Institute (VISI) and has performed with Michael McMahon for CBC Radio Montreal and Kinza Tyrrell for Art Spring, Lulu Concerts and Mount Royal College in Calgary. He has also been a regular contributor with the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto, most recently participating in their 30th Anniversary Concert in 2012.

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.

A prolific recording artist, Mr. Butterfield’s recordings of the Britten Serenade (CBC/ Streatfeild), Canticles (Marquis/ Aldeburgh Connection), Everlasting Light (CBC/ Adams) and Messiah Choruses (CBC/ Taurins) have been nominated 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, Songs of Hope and St. John Passion  (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. Three collections of six composers are available to date (Musicaleopolis.com)

Prof. Butterfield teaches 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), Yellow Barn (Vermont) the Amalfi Coast Music Festival (Italy) and VISI (Vancouver).

 

back to top

Photos

back to top

Reviews

"In Janáček’s [The diary of one who disappeared] the poetry takes on the mantle of profundity—packing marginalization, prejudice, alienation, and sex into slightly more than half an hour. It’s masterful, unique music straddling between late romanticism and modernism. Tenor Benjamin Butterfield and pianist Arthur Rowe performed this exquisite and complex score with unfailing insight and expertise. "

D Magazine, Wayne Lee Gay

"Butterfield's performance was full of dynamic changes, ranging from full voice to a whisper, wonderful nuances, long vocal lines and superb body language. He was a consummate artist throughout."

The Daily Courier, Marvin Dickau

"Tenor Benjamin Butterfield had but a cameo role as the sailor in the production, but how he milked it! With true nautical spirit, he urged his colleagues on with smiling singing and plenty of hand-rubbing. Fortunately, we had another opportunity to hear this peerless artist in Total Eclipse from Handel's Samson in the first half of the program. It was hard not to be immediately struck by the ease and passion of his delivery and the dazzling tone purity. "

Winnipeg Free Press, Gwenda Nemerofsky

"The tenor Benjamin Butterfield was clarion-voiced and vibrant as the archangel Uriel."

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Benjamin Butterfield supplied a sinewy lyric tenor and vivid declamation. "

Scott Cantrell, Dallas News

"It was simply ravishing. Butterfield’s absolutely gorgeous voice and total musicality suddenly had the capacity audience awed into silence."

Hugh Fraser, Hamilton Spectator

"Butterfield’s recital style immediately won over the audience. There is something of the opera singer in that style...Here were all his strengths: marvellous diction, an ability to gently tease out the rhythm, and an expressive combination of phrasing and vocal colour. "

Edmonton Journal - Mark Morris.

"Benjamin Butterfield gave a towering performance as Bajazet, perhaps the first heroic tenor role in opera history."

Anthony Tommasini, New York Times

"Benjamin Butterfield's charming Damon was graced by a creamily sweet timbre, responsive fluidity in passagework and all the requisite warmth of characterization this gentle confidante demands. "

Mark Thomas Ketterson, Opera News

"Tenor Benjamin Butterfield sang and played the heartsick schoolmaster so convincingly, I momentarily forgot I was in the theatre."

Alan Horgan, The Globe and Mail

"Butterfield is not only a very accomplished recitalist, he is also a natural communicator… The Schumann cycle was particularly successful, with the contrasts in character between the songs well marked and the inner moods precisely rendered. …the musical result was quite magical…"

Kenneth DeLong, Calgary Herald

"Here the concert was greatly benefited by the presence of Benjamin Butterfield, whose elegantly produced lyric tenor was perfectly suited to the unique demand of this work. As Acis, Butterfield had three large virtuoso arias to sing, as well as sundry duets, all of which were impressive for their brilliant Handelian style and dramatic delivery. A compelling performer in all respects, he gave the entire performance a shot in the arm, his professionalism apparent at every turn."

Kenneth DeLong, Calgary Herald

"Benjamin Butterfield sang the tenor role with taste, authority and agility…"

Washington Post

"Benjamin Butterfield is stunning as Ottavio, a signature role for him, and he performs his well-known show pieces to brilliant effect while also making an interesting foil for Donna Anna"

Grania Litwin, Victoria Times Colonist

"Could there be a better Tom Rakewell than B.C.-born tenor Benjamin Butterfield, who portrays the central figure with affecting vocal grace and sensitivity to the character’s mercurial mood swings?"

Douglas Hughes, The Georgia Straight

"He [Butterfield] sang the narrative with the most honest, tender urgency, heralding a miracle with a true sense of awe. His arias were sweet-toned, long-lined and florid, with none of that oratorial “ha-ha-ha” aspiration to his syllables in his difficult number, Frohe Hirten."

Lloyd Dykk, Vancouver Sun

"Benjamin Butterfield gave most pleasure – his voice was clear, pure and firm. "

Kenneth Carter, Classicalsource.com

back to top

Discography