After a thrilling performance as Violetta on the first night of Covent Garden's current revival of Verdi's La traviata, Anna Netrebko has had to withdraw from the third performance of the run tomorrow, Sunday 20 January 2008. She also withdrew from last Thursday's performance, after a bronchial infection from which she was suffering when she arrived in London to rehearse flared up again.
Netrebko's replacement for both performances is the Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, who made her Covent Garden debut in the production on Thursday night. A press release from Netrebko's press agent on Thursday explains:
'Ms. Netrebko arrived for rehearsals in London with a bronchial condition which has sadly now returned. She hopes to be able to perform again very soon and is very sorry to disappoint the audience.' The Royal Opera's press release continues: 'The role will now be sung by Albanian soprano Ermonela Jaho, making her debut with The Royal Opera.
'Ermonela Jaho flew in from New York overnight as a precaution as Anna Netrebko was feeling a little unwell yesterday, although at that point she had still hoped to sing at the performance tonight. Unfortunately her condition worsened and, regrettably, she was obliged to cancel at noon today.
'Ermonela Jaho made her professional debut as Violetta in Tirana, Albania aged 17 and has subsequently sung the role at the Bavarian State Opera in Munich, Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Teatro Giuseppe Verdi in Trieste, L'Opera de Marseille and at L'Opera de Lille. She has appeared at the Wexford Festival in Ireland as Agnes in The Maid of Orleans in 2000, both Giulietta (I Capuleti e I Montecchi) and Irène (Sapho) in 2001 and Marguerite (Manon Lescaut) in 2002. Future engagements include her debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera as Micaëla (Carmen) in August 2008 and further performances of Violetta (La traviata) at the Teatro Comunale in Florence as well as her debut with San Francisco Opera.
'The rest of the cast remain the same and includes Jonas Kaufmann as Alfredo and Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Père Germont. Maurizio Benini conducts.'
It is sad for Netrebko's London fans to be deprived of her excellent performance of the role after she had proved on Monday night just how much insight she can bring to it. The announcement of her illness does, however, raise the question of whether the convincing coughing which I mentioned in my review of the performance was in fact real rather than acted!
Our review of Monday's performance can be read here.
Although this cancellation is for unavoidable medical reasons rather than a change of mind, the cancellation of a high-profile star follows on from a whole raft of major singers' cancellations this season: Bryn Terfel's departure from The Ring Cycle, Rolando Villazon's from L'elisir d'amore and both Christopher Maltman and Elina Garanca's from the forthcoming Ariadne auf Naxos were recently joined by the news that Swedish soprano Nina Stemme will not now perform the role of Amelia Grimaldi in the ROH's May 2008 revival of Simon Boccanegra.