Internationally acclaimed Canadian tenor Benjamin Butterfield made his Pacific Opera Victoria debut in 1990 as Triquet in Eugene Onegin. Since then he has returned to POV to perform Ferrando (Così fan tutte, 1991), Lysander (A Midsummer Night's Dream, 1993), Ernesto (Don Pasquale, 1993), and Peter Quint (The Turn of the Screw, 1997). In 1999 he sang Don Ottavio in Don Giovanni – a role he performed again in 2007 for Pacific Opera Victoria and Orchestra London. In February 2009 he returned to POV to sing Jupiter in Handel's Semele. In November 2010 Mr. Butterfield makes his role debut as Grimoaldo in Handel's Rodelinda.
Mr. Butterfield was born in Halifax in 1964, his musical life commencing in Victoria BC as a boy chorister at Christ Church Cathedral. Formal voice studies followed with Selena James at the Victoria Conservatory of Music while in attendance at the University of Victoria. He completed further studies at McGill University and the Banff Centre and received grants from the Canada Council to further his vocal studies with Diane Forlano in London and with the great Mozart tenor Leopold Simoneau.
Regarded as a "musically arresting presence" by the San Francisco Chronicle, Benjamin Butterfield is in demand for concert, opera and recital. His stage repertoire has encompassed roles in The Barber of Seville, Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, The Rake's Progress, Persephone, The Cunning Little Vixen and Tamerlano with performances in Naples at Il Teatro di San Carlo, Theatre du Capitole in Toulouse, Welsh National Opera, the Canadian Opera Company, L'Opéra Nationale de Montpellier, and Arizona Opera, as well as New York City Opera, L'Opéra de Montréal, Vancouver Opera, Glimmerglass Opera Festival, and Canterbury Opera in New Zealand.
In concert he has appeared in Britten's War Requiem with the London Symphony Chorus and the State Orchestra of Thessaloniki, the St. Matthew Passion and St. John Passion with the Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra under Nicholas McGegan and Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln at the Toronto International Choral Festival. He has toured throughout Europe with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert, the RIAS Kammerchor of Berlin and with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. Mr. Butterfield has also performed with the orchestras of Detroit, San Francisco, New Jersey and Chicago. Other appearances have included the Saito Kinen Festival with Seiji Ozawa, Festival Vancouver performing the Mad Woman in Britten's Curlew River and in recital with Graham Johnson for VISI.
A busy season for Benjamin Butterfield in 2010/11 includes his role debut as Grimoaldo in Handel's Rodelinda at Pacific Opera Victoria, Handel's Messiah for his debut with the San Francisco Symphony as well as at the Calgary Philharmonic. A frequent Bach interpreter, Mr. Butterfield will also join the Richard Eaton Singers in the St. Matthew Passion and make a return to the Bethlehem Bach Festival.
For the 2009/10 season, orchestral highlights from Benjamin Butterfield's busy schedule included Beethoven's Ninth Symphony with the Colorado Symphony under Music Director Jeffrey Kahane, Acis and Galatea with Chicago's Music of the Baroque under Jane Glover, and with the Vancouver Symphony under Bramwell Tovey's baton, performing Mozart's Requiem. Other engagements included appearances at the Harrisburg Symphony, Pacific Symphony, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Vancouver Bach Choir and Victoria Symphony. Operatic highlights include a return to Calgary Opera's stage as Ottavio in Don Giovanni.
Highlights from Mr. Butterfield's previous seasons have included appearances at the Carmel Bach Festival in California with conductor Bruno Weil as well as performances of Messiah with the San Diego Symphony and the American Bach Soloists. Mr. Butterfield returned to Opera Ontario as Belmonte in Mozart's Die Entführung aus dem Serail, and appeared as Tamino at Calgary Opera in Mozart's Die Zauberflöte. Benjamin enjoys ongoing relationships with the Calgary Philharmonic, the Toronto Symphony, Les Violons du Roy and Tafelmusik. He debuted with L'Orchestre Philharmonique de Strasbourg singing L'enfance du Christ, sang in Berlioz's Romeo and Juliet with the Toronto Symphony under Sir Andrew Davis, and performed numerous Bach Cantatas at the BBC Proms with the Bach Choir of Bethlehem. Other engagements have included performances with the Oregon Symphony, the National Arts Center with Pinchas Zuckerman, the Montreal Symphony, the Residentie Orkest in the Netherlands, concert versions of Die Zauberflöte with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the role of Jupiter in Semele with Pacific Opera Victoria.
Of his many recordings, Britten Serenade (CBC/Streatfeild) and Canticles (Marquis/ Aldeburgh Connection) have been recognized by the Canadian Juno Awards. He has also recorded Brahms and Schumann Liebeslieder (CBC/ Aldeburgh Connection), music of Bach, Schutz and Haydn (Koch International/ Thomas), Opera Encores (CBC/ Bradshaw), Psalm 80 of Roussel (Timpani/ Tovey) and Weinachtsoratorium (Dorion/ Funfgeld). Film and TV credits include Dido and Aeneas with the Mark Morris Dance Company and Tafelmusik, L'enfant et les sortilèges with the Montreal Symphony under 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.
Mr. Butterfield returned to Victoria in July 2006 to take up the post of Head of Voice at the University of Victoria. Mr. Butterfield previously taught at York University in Toronto and is on staff at Opera Nuova in Edmonton. He has given Masterclasses at VISI, the Carmel Bach Festival and at institutions across Canada.
It was simply ravishing. Butterfield's absolutely gorgeous voice and total musicality suddenly had the capacity audience awed into silence.
Hugh Fraser, Hamilton Spectator
Benjamin Butterfield was first-rate, a musically arresting presence…
Robert Commanday, San Francisco Chronicle