Deborah Voigt: Covent Garden paid for my gastric bypass

Deborah Voigt: Covent Garden paid for my gastric bypass


norman lebrecht

January 15, 2015

First leaks from the soprano’s memoirs, out in the US in a fortnight, focus on her weight issues.

After being fired by the Royal Opera House in 2004 for failing to fit into its little black dress, she used the severance pay to fund stomach surgery that brought her down to size.

More trenchantly, she complains that fatness in opera is a feminist issue. ‘Why is it okay for the male opera stars to be big and not the women?’ she demands.

deborah voigt fat


deborah voigt



  • SVM says:

    I blame the critics (opera companies are notorious for being particularly frightened of negative reviews).

  • Will Moseng says:

    Ok, name multiple male stars (International fame only) who were of the size of Ms. Vogt, Marc, Sweet, etc. Marc topped 400 lbs at one point. Absurdly huge people for live theater, it looked more like a carnival sideshow than gripping theater.

  • Halldor says:

    This territory was all amply covered during “dumpygate” and it may be worth saying, pre-emptively, that plenty of critics have been equally judgemental about the physical appearance of (eg) Pavarotti, Johan Botha etc. Sizeist, not sexist.

  • Milka says:

    Looking like a beached whale is a problem , didn’t the first Traviata run
    into this with the audience laughing &
    cat calling the fat soprano dying
    of consumption.Watching Pavarotti
    drag around hundreds of lbs. while
    singing the duke stays with you for longer than one cares to remember.
    One thought Gilda must be out of her mind to take up with a whale hardly able to move.
    Once you have seen Sutherland as
    Traviata you can no longer take it seriously.You knew that the only thing to bring her Traviata down was not TB
    but a mack truck .There is a limit
    to suspension of reality even for opera .

  • Anonymous says:

    Three quick points:

    1) Covent Garden were fully aware of her weight when they hired her. Production designs are submitted a long time in advance and, if action needed to be taken, then it should have been taken then. The artist was left publicly humiliated.

    2) Female students at some conservatoires, who are far from being obese, are often strongly advised to lose weight, spend money on expensive hairdressers, and wear label garments to auditions.

    3) Even major opera houses now admit that they are having to cast as much on looks. Singers that they would have considered vocally substandard 20 years ago now get the career. And in an era of big orchestras and large auditoria, this is disastrous…