Benjamin Butterfield

Lic. MUS (McGill)
Associate Professor
Voice, Opera, Head of Voice Program

MacLaurin Building (Music Wing)
By Appointment

Brief Biography

Born in Halifax NS and raised in Victoria BC, Benjamin Butterfield began singing at school and in the choir of Christ Church Cathedral in Victoria. Performing in local festivals and variety shows he pursued formal voice studies with Selena James at the Victoria Conservatory of Music while attending the University of Victoria in General Arts. He furthered his studies at the Banff Centre for the Performing Arts in the Music Theater Studio Ensemble before accepting an entrance scholarship to McGill University studying under Jocelyn Fleury-Coutu and William Neil. After graduation he received grants from the Canada Council to work with Diane Forlano in London and Leopold Simoneau in Victoria. He also received assistance from the Sullivan Foundation in New York City for opera role preparation in Toronto, New York, London and Italy. Other mentors have included Sir Thomas Allan, Peter Schreier, Elly Ameling, Rudolph Piernay, Noelle Barker, Margreet Honing, Roger Vignoles, Stuart Hamilton and Michael McMahon.

Prior to his appointment at the University of Victoria, Mr. Butterfield was on the voice faculty at York University in Toronto. He is co-currently on the faculties of Opera Nuova, Opera on the Avalon, the Vancouver International Song Institute, the Amalfi Coast Music Festival and most recently Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival in Vermont. Mr. Butterfield is represented by IMG Artists in New York City and maintains an active national and international performing calendar.

Recently Mr. Butterfield toured with the Montreal based Theater of Early Music to Winnipeg, Ottawa, Seattle and Montreal, performed with Continuum as well as the Aldeburgh Connection in Toronto, sang the Evangelist in Bach’s St. John Passion with the Victoria Baroque Players under Timothy Vernon and performed works by Handel and Mozart in New York City at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center. In Taipei he performed works by Bach and Puccini with the Taiwan National Choir, Messiah with the North Carolina Symphony as well as concerts and recitals in the Netherlands, Switzerland and Italy.

Highlights of Mr. Butterfield’s career have included tours throughout North America and Europe with Trevor Pinnock and the English Concert as well as with Marc Minkowski and Les Musiciens du Louvre. He has also worked with Paul McCreesh, Nicholas McGegan, Leonard Slatkin, Andreas Delfs, Yannick Nezet-Seguin, Pinkas Zuckerman, Carlos Kalmar, Gerard Schwarz, Bruno Weil, Jan Willem de Vriend, Grant Llewellan, Julian Wachner, Hans Graf and Mario Bernardi. On the operatic stage he has toured with the Welsh National Opera (Barber of Seville - Rizzi), New York City Opera (Magic Flute, Madrid tour), Canterbury Opera in New Zealand (Eugene Onegin, Barber of Seville - Law) and with Canada’s Opera Atelier. He has performed with Tafelmusik and Les Violons du Roy as well as with The Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra and American Bach Soloists in San Francisco. He has also worked with Jonathan Miller at the Glimmerglass Opera Festival (Tamerlano), performed with the Dave Brubeck Quartet (To Hope) at the Montreal Jazz Festival, sung with the London Philharmonia Choir in Thessalonika (Britten’s War Requiem) and shared the stage with film actress Isabella Rosselini at the San Carlo in Naples (Stravinsky’s Persephone), later touring with that company to the ancient amphitheater of Epidaurus in Greece.

Other engagements have included performing at Carnegie Hall with the Oratorio Society of New York, with the Chicago Symphony under James Conlon at the Ravinia Festival, at the Hollywood Bowl with the LA Philharmonic under Bramwell Tovey, Le Capitole in Toulouse (Mignon, Barber of Seville), the Carmel Bach Festival and participating in the St. Matthew Passion at the Saito Kinen Festival in Japan under Seiji Ozawa. He has also performed in the Symphony halls of Dallas, Houston, Detroit, San Diego, Boston, San Francisco and Washington as well as at the Sheldonian Hall Oxford, Kings College Chapel Cambridge, The Royal Albert Hall in London, Grant Park in Chicago, The National Cathedral Washington and at the Royal Court Opera in the Palace of Versailles.
In Canada Mr. Butterfield has sung with all the major Orchestras and Opera Companies as well as with the Aldeburgh Connection, Toronto Masque Theater, Theater of Early Music, Off Center Music Salon, I Musici, McGill Chamber Orchestra under Boris Brott, Music in the Morning and with Aventa and Continuum. He has also performed in summer festivals at Sharon, Elora, Orford, Guelph, Lameque, West Brome, Almonte as well as in Ottawa, Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal and Quebec City. Engagements of particular note have included Messiaen’s. “St. François d’Assise” with the Montreal Symphony and Kent Nagano, “L’enfant et les sortileges” with Charles Dutoit and the Montreal Symphony filmed for Channel 4, Schoenberg’s “Gurrelieder” with the Toronto Symphony under Jukka Pekka Saraste and the Vancouver Opera’s 50th Aniversary Gala under Jonathan Darlington. Other highlights have included Schmidt’s “Das Buch mit sieben Siegeln” at the Toronto International Choral Festival under Howard Dick, Britten’s “Curlew River” with Festival Vancouver and Penderecky’s “Polish Requiem” with the Vancouver Bach Choir both under Bruce Pullan as well as recording “Opera Encores” with the Canadian Opera Company Orchestra under Richard Bradshaw for CBC Records.
Mr. Butterfield can be heard regularly on CBC Radio and has been featured on “This is my Music”. His more than forty recordings are available on CBC Records, Koch International, Dorion, Marquis, Timpani, Analekta and Musica Leopolis.  

Music samples in MP3

  • Does not the sun - Art songs of Kyrlo Stetsenko. (Musicaleopolis)
  • Ah! ne t'éveille pas encor - Godard's Jocelyn. Canadian Opera Company. Richard Bradshaw. (CBC)
  • Oh! Schmerz - St. Matthew Passion. American Bach Soloists. Jeffrey Thomas. (Koch International)
  • Nocturne - Britten Serenade. Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. Simon Streatfeild. (CBC)
  • Un momento di contento - Handel's Alcina. Les Violons du Roi. Bernard Labadie. (CBC Radio)




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