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March 18, 2023

Angela Gheorghiu withdraws from Met’s production with Carmen

Soprano Angela Gheorghiu has cancelled her remaining two performances of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Bizet’s “Carmen.”

Gheorghiu withdrew in August from her first six performances of the run, which began Dec. 31. She was to appear in those performances with her husband, tenor Roberto Alagna. The staging had been designed around the couple, but Gheorghiu said in October she and Alagna are divorcing. Carmen is written for a mezzo-soprano, and Gheorghiu hasn’t performed it on stage. She said that she needs more time to prepare for the role. In a statement from her relayed by the Met, the singer implied that she was not ready for the role. “To make so important a debut as Carmen, I want to be as prepared dramatically as I am musically,” she said. “Therefore, I will postpone my role debut until a later date when I can work intensely with the Richard Eyre production.”

Elina Garanca was assigned to replace Ms. Gheorghiu’s earlier performances.

On occasion, Gheorghiu has had difficult relationships with opera house managements and directors. Some, but not all, of them have stemmed from her opposition to directors who, as she put it in an interview with ABC “want to express their own fantasies, forgetting about the characters. At times, she says, what they put on stage goes against both the story and the music.” She has attributed her outspokenness to her upbringing in Romania under the communist totalitarian regime: “Because I grew up in a country where there was no possibility of having an opinion, it makes me stronger now. Lots of singers are frightened about not getting invited back to an opera house if they speak out. But I have the courage to be, in a way, revolutionary. I want to fight for opera, for it to be taken seriously. Pop music is for the body, but opera is for the soul.”. Gheorghiu had a problematic relationship with former Metropolitan Opera General Manager Joseph Volpe after her debut there as Mimi in 1993. In September 2007, Gheorghiu was dismissed from Lyric Opera of Chicago’s production of La Boheme by General Manager William Mason, for missing rehearsals and costume fittings, and generally “unprofessional” behaviour. Despite these issues, Gheorghiu and Alagna returned to the Metropolitan Opera for five performances of L’elisir d’amore in 1999 and for four performances of Faust in 2003. Gheorghiu also performed at the Met as Liu in Turandot in 2000; as Violetta in La Traviata opposite Jonas Kaufmann in 2006 and 2007; as Amelia in Simon Boccanegra in 2007; as Mimì in La Boheme in 2008 and for the 2009-10 season she will be seen as Violetta, replacing her previous engagement as Marie Antoinette in a rare revival of John Corigliano’s The Ghosts of Versailles replaced due to the recession.

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