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The Lebrecht Weekly


Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]

Singing in the last chance saloon

By Norman Lebrecht / October 3, 2007

Those whom the gods would destroy, they first make into opera singers. Roberto Alagna and his wife Angela Gheorghiu used to be the hottest thing on boards, the Bonnie and Clyde of romantic opera (as Jonathan Miller styled them), the Draculas to less charitable colleagues. Too many heists, however, have ruined their cuddly image and are straining their professional relationships.

Alagna stormed out of La Scala in mid-Aida before Christmas in a hissy fit about getting booed. He won’t be asked back in a while. Last week Gheorghiu was demonstratively fired by the Lyric Opera in Chicago for skipping six rehearsals out of ten and the town itself for much of the month.

‘I’ve sung Boheme hundreds of times’ was her excuse. The other reason was that she was needed in New York where Alagna’s naked thighs were being seen in Gounod's Romeo and Juliet at the Met in warm proximity to the bare shoulders of Anna Netrebko, the shopaholic Russian temptress. Obviously, Roberto needed all the emotional support he could get at such testing moments and it was little wonder that Angela overlooked some minor contractual obligations in the Midwest. Such is star life.

The Rumanian is the biggest diva to be fired by Chicago in 50 years, since Maria Callas was subjected to a tacitly coordinated lockout by San Francisco Opera and the Met which ended her US career. Gheorghiu and Alagna have survived one sacking by the Met in 1998 and been forgiven. They are now back at the brink. One more strike, and they are out.

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Visit every week to read Norman Lebrecht's latest column. [Index]


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