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Celebrated Canadian opera singer Ben Heppner announces retirement

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TORONTO - Celebrated Canadian opera singer Ben Heppner has announced his retirement.

In a statement, Heppner says he wants to enter a new era in his life.

The 58-year-old added that he would continue as the host of CBC-Radio's "Saturday Afternoon at the Opera" and "Backstage with Ben Heppner."

The B.C.-born Heppner first rose to prominence when he won the CBC Talent Festival in 1979.

The renowned tenor went on to perform at Covent Garden, Bavarian State Opera, Paris Opera, San Francisco Opera and Vienna State Opera.

Some of his most challenging roles have been performed at the Metropolitan Opera, where he's performed the title roles in Dieter Dorn's "Tristan und Isolde" and Robert Wilson's "Lohengrin," while also portraying Florestan in "Fidelio," Ghermann in "The Queen of Spades" and Aeneas in "Les Troyens."

Heppner won three Grammy Awards and a trio of Juno Awards.

He has been named a Companion of the Order of Canada and performed at the closing ceremonies of two separate Olympic Games, in 2006 and 2010.

"After much consideration, I've decided the time has come for a new era in my life," Heppner said in a statement. "I'm setting aside my career as an opera and concert singer.

"I wish to thank the countless people who inspired me, supported me and encouraged me to embark on a fantastic journey over the past 35 years. A million thanks to those who hired me. Most importantly, I want to thank everyone who ever bought a ticket.

"I'm really enjoying my time on CBC-Radio," he added, "and look forward to what the future has in store."

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