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 made his role debut as Grimoaldo in Handel's Rodelinda. He returns in 2014 as Mime in Das Rheingold.
Mr. Butterfield was born in Halifax and raised in Victoria, BC where his musical life started 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.
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 engagements for the 2013/14 season included an appearance in Sorrento, Italy through the Amalfi Coast Music Festival with pianist Vlad Iftinca, opening the season for the North Carolina Symphony under Grant Llewellan in Beethoven's 9th Symphony, as well as recitals with Arthur Rowe for the Jeffrey Concerts in London, Ontario, for the Edmonton Recital Society with Peter Dala, tours 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 Year's Day concert singing the music of Franz Lehár 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, Janáček’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.
Upcoming events include participating in the 107th annual Bach Festival in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Theodora with the Victoria Philharmonic Choir, singing the role of Mime in Das Rheingold with Pacific Opera, Britten’s War Requiem with the Victoria Symphony, Haydn’s Harmoniemesse with Orchestre symphonique de Québec under Bernard Labadie, Beethoven's 9th Symphony with the Elgin Symphony in Illinois under Andrew Grams and a conducting debut in Messiah for VoiceScapes in Calgary.
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 Seasons. Mr. Butterfield was also invited to join the faculty of Yellow Barn chamber music festival in Vermont to perform, among 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 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 and with the Grand Philharmonic Choir of Kitchener-Waterloo as the Evangelist in the St. Matthew Passion. 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 Theatre of Early Music in works of Purcell and Handel, and presented 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. 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 Nézet Séguin and L’Orchestre Métropolitain in Montréal. 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 Centre in Ottawa he sang in the Black and White Opera Gala; 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 also encompassed roles in Eugene Onegin, Die Fledermaus, The Rake's Progress, The Cunning Little Vixen, Don Giovanni, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Die Zauberflöte, and Tamerlano with the Canadian Opera Company, Opéra National de Montpellier, Arizona Opera, Opéra de Montréal, 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 sortilèges 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 for 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), Weinachtsoratorium (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 returned to Victoria in July 2006 to take up the post of Head of the Voice Program at the University of Victoria. Mr. Butterfield previously taught at York University in Toronto. 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).
AUDIO: Hear Benjamin Butterfield in excerpts from works by Kyrlo Stetsenko, Benjamin Godard, Bach, Britten, and Handel.
The tenor Benjamin Butterfield was clarion-voiced and vibrant as the archangel Uriel.
Anthony Tommasini, New York Times, December 2012
Benjamin Butterfield gave a nuanced performance of the conflicted strong-man Grimoaldo, the usurping king of both Pavia and Milan, wooer of both Eduige and Rodelinda. His assurance while he is in unrelenting pursuit of Rodelinda contrasted nicely with his desire for the simple life as things fall apart. His aria contemplating the shepherd's life (Pastorello d'un povero armento) was unexpectedly moving.
Elizabeth Paterson, Review Vancouver, Review of Pacific Opera Victoria's Rodelinda, 2010
It was simply ravishing. Butterfield’s absolutely gorgeous voice and total musicality suddenly had the capacity audience awed into silence.
Hugh Fraser, Hamilton Spectator