Thursday, April 01, 2010

"For Personal Reasons"

A cast-change advisory from the Met tells me that Leonard Slatkin is withdrawing from the remaining performances of La Traviata "for personal reasons." He'll be replaced by Marco Armiliato (one performance), Steven White (one performance), Yves Abel (four performances), and TBD (one performance).

Personal reasons. Uh-huh. See Anthony Tommasini's review and reports about Slatkin's preparation (well, lack thereof) at parterre box.


Anonymous said...

In Slatkin's defense, read his blog and see how often his singers show up. Hampson stays in Vienna until late, Gheorgiu blows rehearsals. Yes, a conductor that has done a ton of traviata could still handle the stuff with the principal waltzing in at the last minute, but he was put in a tough spot.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately that's what singers do, or rather that's the way the business works, all involved just deal with it. That's opera. To be fair, Slatkin was engaged to do something quite different. He gets good breaks (eg heading the Proms) but is no genius. OTOH he is a good man which counts for a lot, too.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I'm assuming there are two different Anons. in the comments above. Yes, absence of the principals would have made it harder - it still sounds to me as if he was underprepared. Perhaps he could have done an out-of-town tryout - a private run-through with local singers, for example.

Jonquil said...

Holy frickin' cow. Why on earth did he think that would work?

Not a professional musician here. I understand that this was, by definition, his debut, but surely he could have -- to coin a phrase -- known the score?

Lisa Hirsch said...

He certainly should have. The contracts for both soloists and conductors require the performers to know the score or their part in advance of starting rehearsals. It's sadly common for singers to show up underprepared: one notorious example of this was a tenor who turned up for Don Carlos at SF Opera knowing his part only in Italian even though the performances were in French. He was fired during the rehearsal period. I do not know if he had issues with the music as well. (His replacement absolutely stank and sank back into the obscurity from which he had evidently been plucked.)

I have heard rumors that Willard White, singing the title role, came to the St. Francois d'Assisse performances at SF underprepared but was coached into the part; bass-baritones who know that part are extremely thin on the ground. Probably White and Rod Gilfrey are the only currently-active singers who know it. (Jose van Damm, who premiered it, surely knows it still but I think would not sing it at this stage in his career.)