The Royal Opera has announced cast changes to three of its productions in the current season.
The new production of Korngold's Die Tote Stadt, which is from a co-production between the Vienna State Opera and the Salzburg Festival (2004) and opens in late January 2009, will now feature American tenor Steven Ebel in his Covent Garden debut, following on from the withdrawal of Swiss tenor Bernard Richter in the roles of Gastone/Victorin.
Ebel's recent roles include Quint for Opera Cleveland and Jaquino for Empire Opera. The rest of the cast remains unchanged with Stephen Gould/Torsten Kerl as Paul, Nadja Michael as Marie/Marietta, Gerald Finley as Frank/Fritz, Kathleen Wilkinson as Brigitta, Ji-Min Park as Kleine Graf, Simona Mihai as Juliette and Jurgita Adamonyte as Lucienne. All performances are conducted by Ingo Metzmacher.
A more serious change involves the withdrawal of German soprano Anne Schwanewilms from the role of Elsa in the April/May 2009 revival of Lohengrin 'for personal reasons'. Schwanewilms recently appeared as Chrysothemis in a revival of Elektra at the ROH and gave perhaps the most satisfying performance of the evening.
The role of Elsa will now be sung by Italian soprano Edith Haller, who makes her debut at Covent Garden. Haller has been a member of the Badisches Staatstheater Karlsruhe since 2005. Her roles there have included Senta (Der fliegende Holländer), Sieglinde (Die Walküre), Gutrune (Götterdämmerung) and Desdemona (Otello). She made her debut at the Bayreuth Festival in 2006 as Gutrune (Götterdämmerung) and subsequently sang Freia (Das Rheingold), Helmwige (Die Walküre) and Third Norn (Götterdämmerung). Recent roles also include Agathe (Der Freischütz) in Munich and Eva (Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg) in Hamburg.
Finally, the company has announced the replacement for Richard Hickox, following his recent tragic death, for the revival of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in May 2009. It will now be conducted by Bruno Campanella. The company had previously announced that Christian Curnyn will take Hickox's place for The Beggar's Opera in the Linbury Studio in January, making his Royal Opera debut.
Campanella has previously conducted Don Pasquale for The Royal Opera in 1990, 1992 and 2004, I Capuleti e i Montecchi in 2001 and most recently Laurent Pelly's ecstatically-received La fille du régiment in 2007.
The rest of the cast for L'elisir d'amore remains unchanged with Diana Damrau as Adina, Giuseppe Filianoti as Nemorino, Simone Alaimo as Dulcamara, Anthony Michaels-Moore as Belcore and Eri Nakumura as Giannetta.
Photo: Anne Schwanewilms in the Royal Opera's Elektra, November 2008. Credit: Clive Barda