Wednesday, March 08, 2017

That Was Fast.

The Met season announcement was on February 17, 2017. Yesterday, just two weeks later, came the first cast change announcement, and it is a doozy. Let's take a look at the first two paragraphs of the press release.
Vittorio Grigolo will sing the role of Cavaradossi for the first time in his career in next season’s much-anticipated new production of Puccini’s Tosca, opening on New Year’s Eve. Grigolo replaces the originally announced Jonas Kaufmann, after the Met learned earlier this week that Mr. Kaufmann was not able to meet his commitments for the rehearsal and performance schedule.
"Our disappointment in losing Jonas was quickly reversed at the prospect of Vittorio singing Cavaradossi," said Met General Manager Peter Gelb. "This season, Vittorio has proven himself to be one of opera's most thrilling performers."
The invaluable Michael  Cooper had an article about this in the Times in which Kaufmann is quoted saying that he is reconsidering his  commitments for "personal and professional reasons," and in which there is also a hint that maybe JK would be available for some performances later in the run.

My translation of this? JK tried to get out of some of his appearances and the Met fired his ass. From Gelb's comments  in the  Times article, it seems that  he quite rightly was concerned that something like this might happen, and he consequently had Grigolo in reserve.

It takes some guts to fire one of the world's most in-demand tenors, one of the few singers who can easily sell out the entire huge Met. I think this was well played by the Met.

And also, I deeply admire the author of the two quietly scorching paragraphs I quote above.

(The balance of the press release tells us about Vittorio Grigolo's  recent appearances at the Met and tells us he's wonderful. Good. :)

UPDATED 3/8/2017: A follow-up article on the situation, again from Michael Cooper.


G said...

I read an interview with JK where he was sort of "meh" about new productions, because the marginal exposure for him is low, and he doesn't like having to do 6 weeks of rehearsal without being paid extra for them, especially as he could do 2 revivals in about the same time. One wonders...

How do you think Grigolo will do with Cavaradossi?

Cameron Kelsall said...

I would like to think that Gelb canned Kaufmann, because it would serve him right. He's treated the Met in such a cavalier manner. But since Kaufmann is one of maybe three singers in the world who can sell out a house on name alone, I have to wonder. Grigolo, for all his talent, hasn't exactly proven himself a box office star, even after that spate of fabulous reviews for the Werther.

JSC said...

Looks like you were right about him trying to get out of some of the performances!


Lisa Hirsch said...

Michael Cooper's article last week made that clear. I will link to it in the post.

Anonymous said...

So I see the manager of the Bavarian State Opera says that opera is not an entertainment industry. The poor deluded fool.

Cameron Kelsall said...

This article supports my hunch that Gelb views Kaufmann as too valuable to burn the bridge altogether--unlike, say, Angela Gheorghiu, who became persona non grata at the house for a couple of years after repeatedly cancelling engagements. Gheorghiu didn't really sell tickets (at least not in the mid/late 2000s), but Kaufmann still does. Of course, as others have suggested, a segment of his audience might start experiencing cancellation fatigue and stop buying in advance. But that remains to be seen.

Maybe we'll get Kaufmann down the road in a revival that doesn't require much of a rehearsal commitment. But I think it's safe to assume that the rumored new Lohengrin won't be starring him. Here's hoping the Met has Beczala on deck for that one!

Lisa Hirsch said...

Yeah, about the GM of the (other other) BSO. Of course opera is entertainment, as is the rest of the classical music world and all things musical.

I would not buy a ticket to see Kaurmann unless it were in Munich (at the BSO). That's where he is most likely to turn up.

Lohengrin: well, I hope they revive the Wilson, which I did not see during its bring-ups. For the title role, Beczala would be a really interesting choice, but what about the amazing Klaus Florian Vogt or Stuart Skelton?

of course they could also go with Jovanovich, who was quite good in SF a few years ago.

Cameron Kelsall said...

I, too, would love a revival of the Wilson, which I've never seen either. But Met Futures is reporting that Guth's production is coming in 2018-2019 with Netrebko (and Martina Serafin at later performances) and Herlitzius (shudder). They're both veterans of this production as is Beczala, which is why I thought of him first. Vogt made quite a splash when he debuted as Lohengrin in 2006, and he does seem to be having a resurgence with the company of late. Skelton is reportedly singing Siegmund in the Met's Ring that season so perhaps he wouldn't want to take on two high-profile Wagner assignments in one season. All just conjecture on my part, but it's safe to say that if it's a new production, Kaufmann won't be doing it.