Dismay at La Scala opening night as Violetta misses her Act II entrance

Dismay at La Scala opening night as Violetta misses her Act II entrance


norman lebrecht

December 07, 2013

This just in from a conductor who’s watching the live stream on a screen a few hundred metres from the theatre:

Diana Damrau missed her entrance in Act II, party scene in Traviata. The orchestra went on without singing and almost stopped for a really long embrarassing time. This is at La Scala Opening night, with Traviata, conducting, live streaming worldwide. Apparently, she just did not reach the stage on time.  Daniele Gatti, conducting, will want to know why.

Damrau, Diana_Michael Tammaro_2_300dpi



UPDATE: Despite the lapse, Damrau was greatly applauded at the end. Our observer writes: She has sung a very convincing performance, the incident should tell more about the stage personnel at La Scala than about her. Both the conductor and producer were booed.


  • xalira says:

    Weird that no one on Twitter mentioned that, on #primascala

  • wagamama says:

    Maybe they don’t know the opera. It was really incredible. She entered three phrases late and didn’t sing the first “che fia”.

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    The telecast on ARTE has just been cancelled. They are showing old black & white videos of Toscanini and Giulini. It was supposed to be a delayed “live” broadcast, I believe, starting at 21:00 on Western Europe TV. 18:00 live start time in Milan, I think. Something’s up for sure.

  • Normally the stage manager announces all entrances well in advance, so maybe she was in the bathroom.

  • I think the answer’s in the article: Daniele Gatti conducting opera; singer does not appear on stage. Would you?

  • @robert fitzpatrick, what are you talking about? Arte Germany is showing it for sure – or else I am dreaming a beautiful dream… 😉

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      I am often delusionary.and in Paris. It was a delayed broadcast here scheduled to start at 20:45. They announced that it couldn’t be broadcast and showed the films then at about 21:15 it started. Germany is more important than France as we all know, so you guys get to see it live. PS: The website in France was also showing the archival footage of Toscanini and Giulini.

  • PK Miller says:

    Oops… Some things cannot be covered. I do agree the stage manager is more at fault. It’s his/her responsibility to make sure people are where theyre supposed to be. Glad Ms. Damrau persisted. Sometimes, things go so horribly wrong as to make brother Murphy a cockeyed optimist!

    • Nick says:

      A late entrance is rarely the fault of the SM. It usually means that something went wrong, for instance a broken or missing costume piece, an obstruction of some type or an injury. The SM can’t leave the call to deal with such matters. It would have just been an unfortunate accident.

  • DFMaestro says:

    I don’t know what all the fuss is about. This is part of the thrill of live performance. Things can go wrong. These are often the most memorable occasions and make the times that everything goes right even more extraordinary.

  • Claire Rutter says:

    Missed entrances are caused by a huge variety of reasons, more than you can imagine…. (a) not hearing your ‘call’ to stage – it can’t be blamed on stage management if you are not within earshot of a backstage monitor. Also, stage management have an opera to manage, not an individual singer. It’s most definitely the singer’s responsibility, sorry. If it’s the first night timings haven’t been set, so it’s even more crucial to listen out for calls. (b) Not knowing the music well enough (you’ve got confused as to where the orchestra are in the score) (c) Underestimating the time it takes to get to the stage (d) Complicated and long costume change. I’m guessing Damrau will have had a change of costume into something ‘grand’ for Flora’s party? There is of course about 15-18 minutes to make that change, from what I can remember, but a new frock, make-up, hair all takes time. It might be that the dressers will get it in the neck! From experience it’s costume changes that can often be blamed for late arrivals to stage. Designers take note!

    Dare I say it, I was late on stage for Act 2 of Tosca the other night because of a complicated costume change, and I was at performance 12. I should have known better.

  • Rica says:

    If i am not mistaken, the audience did not boo the conductor or the producer, but rather the young Russian director, and his modern interpretation

  • Michaela says:

    Well, Giorgio Armani didn’t like it.

    The celebrated fashion designer “admitted his perplexity with the version of the Russian director Tcherniakov”. In comments which have appeared in Spanish media, he says he felt “disillusioned” by this Traviata. “There is modernity and there is modernity” he explained

    “and this, specifically, I didn’t like very much”. He did express his admiration for the “courage” of director Tcherniakov.

    Italian president Giorgio Napolitano, however, proclaimed the production “Fantastic!”.


  • Jeffrey Levenson says:

    Seems like a real First World Problem!

  • Tim Moorey says:

    There was some mild booing for the tenor (couldn’t understand why as my wife and I thought he was excellent.) There was strong booing for the director which we took to be for the modern production (which we also didn’t like)

    A curious feature of the evening was on-off lighting at times. Can someone explain if this was intended or was it a technical fault?

    We watched it live at the Barbican incidentally and were struck by how much more professional Live from the Met productions are than this first effort from La Scala.

    • Yes Addison says:

      I saw Scala’s Don Giovanni season premiere live in the cinema two years ago, and I had the same reaction, Tim. Sorry to hear they have not gotten their act together. There were major audio dropouts, and we finally lost both picture and sound in the epilogue. It only came back in time for some of the curtain calls, at which point most in the theater had given up. Internet reaction suggested this was not simply a local glitch. In the future, I might wait for the re-broadcast rather than risking Scala live.

      By the way, Barenboim and the director Robert Carsen were booed on that occasion too (I liked Carsen’s production, although it was not his best), and Barenboim was heckled at the start of Act Two. The cast fared better.

  • Hyacinth says:

    So they did in fact boo because the staging was too modern?! I found it was old-fashioned, , dusty, boring, lacked of any ideas or interesting ascpects and was sometimes not even logical – especially the last act. Her death was out of nowhere, if she suffered from some sort of depression or bipolar disorder it wasn’t displayed very well from the director – Damrau’s acting was still superb.

    And with all due respect for the Met: I love opera for spontaneous events, little bits, which are different every night and the surprise and excitement that comes with it every time you watch it, live (which isn’t possible in Milan because most people don’t get tickets). So even when I watch opera on TV, I love if I have the feeling it is live and not some perfect performance edited for broadcasting.

    So for me it is hypercritical to discuss, wether it was Damrau’s or the stage manager’s fault. It happened, so what. It was the first performance. And actually it wasn’t so terrible – the oboe played its solo beautifully. And I always prefer a singer, who sings wonderful like Damrau and misses two or three phrases than one who catches every entry with mediocre vocal skills.

  • MarieTherese says:

    They had run several attended dress rehearsals, so any problems with costume changes/makeup/hair should have been worked out by the official opening night. At least one would hope so…

  • Mauricio says:

    Sadly no Italian singers for one of the most Italian operas of all times! Waht’s going on there, no teachers, no good schools or has the bunga bunga virus taken over the arts? Gatti is not for Verdi, he’s better in Wagner and Damrau is just fine, nothing else. Lucic wa havinf an off night, very poor intonation so Beczala was the only one who somehow did justice to the composer.

  • José Bergher says:

    Many years ago I attended Puccini’s “Triptych” at the Metropolitan Opera. At one point during “Suor Angelica” some nuns brought to the stage a black donkey loaded with food supplies. It so happens that the donkey began to defecate. The first portion of excreta was tiny but noticeably at once all the way up to the last row in the balcony (I was in the next-to-last row). The audience started to laugh. The donkey kept on contributing excreta but this time with an intensity most appropriate to the drama and music, thus depositing enough dark material to cover about 4 sq feet of stage floor. The audience laughter made it difficult for the singers to be heard. After almost one minute of this unexpected but innovative change of staging, the nuns managed to elegantly escort the noble quadruped towards the wings. The music had not stopped at all and the show went on. Then, curtain down, plenty of applause, intermission, and on with “Gianni Schichi.”

  • Let’s hope it is a first night glitch. TPoor Diana Damrau probably felt bed enough about it at the time if she missed her call/could not get her dress zipped up in time. At least the rest of her performance went down well.

  • stageman76 says:

    I have been a theatre stage manager for years and it always astonishes me how pampered opera singers are. Part of a performers job is to know when they should be on stage. There are monitors in nearly all theaters… certainly one of this level… so people can hear or even see what is happening on stage. I’ve worked with stars in theatre and they didn’t need to be brought to the stage. It is a ridiculous, antiquated, and disgustingly arrogant ritual. One would hope that Ms. Damrau’s tardiness to the stage was cause by a legitimate issue. Hopefully she wasn’t in her dressing room dozing.

  • Elly Winer says:

    Welcome to the age of electronics. The singer could have been distracted in her dressing room. I’ve played in the pit when the soprano missed her entry because she was watching the Simpsons on her Ipad! She didn’t hear the three calls from the stage manager.