The thing that frustrates me is that a year from now, he'll sing something without any croaking, and people will say (as they did last time this happened, and the time before), "Heppner really seems to have come through his vocal crisis. I guess his technique is all patched up now." And the Rhein will overflow its banks, and we'll be righ back where we started, with apologies to Anna Russell. Evidence of what I'm talking about over at Parterre. And, yes, he sounded much better than this the night I went, but a musicologist friend informs me that very very strange musicology eminance Carolyn Abbate is actually writing these days about the effect Ben Heppner's cracks have on our listening experience. Speaking only for me and anyone who will sign my petition, I'd describe these effects as: wishing (hopefully without becoming one of those people) that someone would turn up another Melchior, or Vickers, or even Windgassen. Jeez, I don't hate his singing or anything, and he seems really nice, but it's getting to be like certain wines: odd years are fine; even years, let's just go see some nice Mozart.
Edit: Ok, this sounds unreasonable to me, re-reading. Heppner is a good singer. I guess I just wish we could stop referring to something so clockwork-regular as a crisis. Let's review: Heppner is a good singer. Heppner has a pretty, large, lyric voice. Heppner is going to fuck up in certain roles that require more than that, and if I don't feel like bracing myself for a lot of phlegmy sounds, I can always just skip those when he sings them, except I probably won't because there's no stellar alternative right now and I don't want to forego these operas altogether. The announced Siegfried in Aix sounds like a big mistake, but fortunately for everyone involved, I have a fear of flying matched only in intensity by my lack of funds for opera-going jaunts in Europe, so I will not be there, smacking my head, saying: it's not a vocal crisis, and he's not going to fix it. If this were the McLaughlin Group, and McLaughlin had just asked for everyone's predictions, I'd say: Heppner will sing Siegfried in Aix and then drop the role. And then I'd propose (platonic) marriage to Eleanor Clift for being so excellent. Anyway I'm probably wrong. I am not infrequently, it may be noted, wrong.