Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Garanca Out, Coote In

Another bad news, good news announcement: mezzo-soprano Elīna Garanča has withdrawn from the upcoming San Francisco Opera production of Werther. She will be replaced by the brilliant British mezzo Alice Coote, last seen here in Handel's Alcina Mozart's Idomeneo.

Garanča cites personal reasons for withdrawing. However, the press release includes this:
Regarding Ms. Garanča, Mr. Gockley commented, “It pains me greatly to announce that Ms. Garanča has chosen not to appear in next season’s Werther as promised. She is a glamorous young star who has created a stir in Europe and at the Metropolitan Opera, and I was looking forward to presenting her West Coast debut. However, after extensive discussions with her management and having filed a grievance through the American Guild of Musical Artists (AGMA), I am satisfied that the financial settlement we have reached disposes of the matter.” A series of European concerts has been recently announced on Ms. Garanča’s website during the Werther performance schedule.


Henry Holland said...

Could someone explain why singers and conductors and soloists are booked up to 5 years in advance? I've never understood the thinking behind that. Thanks.

Lisa Hirsch said...

That answer is a little complicated.

For one thing, the tendency seems to have passed. I think the planning horizon is shorter now, for the simple reason that I don't think Garanca would have been booked into this role more than two years back.

For another, blame Joan Ingpen. I gather she started doing super-long-range planning when she was at the Met (maybe in the 70s?), following a distinguished career as an artists' agent. It was controversial even then.

Brian said...

I'm thrilled to have another chance to hear Coote though I've prefered her Mozart and Baroque appearances over others I've heard her in.

As for Garanca's departure, I find the tone of Gockley's comments comical. He's the one who has been hell bent on bringing "star power" back to San Francisco at nearly any cost - encouraging audiences to focus on it at post-show focus groups in the past and soliciting contributions specifically for this purpose.

When the names start to take precedence over broader artistic values, trouble can certainly arise. Apparently, Gockley and SFO weren't quite able to offer the money or prestige that Garanca wanted or she wouldn't be doing something else I'd wager.

I guess being a "singers' house" isn't the plum draw that it once was for international talent.

Lisa Hirsch said...

I think you have very likely nailed it, Brian.

Anonymous said...

I guess we have another Cancelina on our hands. I refrain from booking Garanca as well as Netrebko in advance.