Kozena cancels Melbourne, Rattle conducts sitting down

Kozena cancels Melbourne, Rattle conducts sitting down


norman lebrecht

August 01, 2015

Australia’s star visitors had a rough night in Melbourne, we hear from the musicians.

Magdalena Kozena had to withdraw from the concert at the last minute when her voice went faint and her husband went on stage with a raging temperature. He battled on through the performance, sitting down.

Brett Dean’s new orchestration of Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, was cancelled.

Apparently one of the kids has flu and both parents caught it.

rattle kozena dg

More details as we hear.



  • Sam says:

    I attended last night’s Melbourne concert. Rattle appeared on stage prior to the orchestra to announce Kozena’s withdrawal and that the part of the program she was to have featured in, a new orchestration of Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, was cancelled. Apparently there was no replacement artist. Consequently the first ‘half’ of the concert featured all 15 minutes of Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune. Ticket prices for this event ranged from AUD$99-$349.
    It is not uncommon for Australian audiences to be treated in this way. Last month, I attended A French Celebration with Susan Graham and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, billed to feature gems of the Belle Epoque. The program consisted of seventy minutes of under-rehearsed chamber music (Ravel’s piano trio, Frank’s piano quintet), Graham sang a very stressed Ravel Trois Poèmes de Stéphane Mallarmé (12 minutes), and an incomparably more secure (and less French) Respighi Il tramonto (17 minutes).
    Of course there is little by way of serious arts criticism in Australia, so all of this typically meets with gushing press, and artists and arts companies simply carry on.

    • John Borstlap says:

      I.e., treating Australia as a colony.

    • Jonathan Grieves-Smith says:

      “Not uncommon for Australian audiences to be treated this way” – so was the wonderful Kozena deliberately unwell, the exciting Australian World Orchestra in the know, perhaps even planned it?

      No! Simon and the AWO treated everyone respectfully and, considering how unwell he sounds to have been, with great generosity.

      This is common in Australia, from Australian orchestras & choirs, and their guest artists.

      • Sam says:

        It seems a phenomenon peculiar to classical music that it is acceptable to promote and sell tickets to a particular artist, but then later cancel or replace them without recompense.
        It simply wouldn’t pass in pop music – if one buys a ticket to see Madonna, one expects to see Madonna, not another singer and not just the support act/backing musicians.
        If one buys a ticket to an opera production it is understandable that casting changes may occur, it is the production one holds a ticket to see.
        But if one holds a ticket to see Magdalena Kozena, one doesn’t expect to have her portion of the program omitted.

  • Una says:

    The trouble now is that the whole orchestra are at risk of getting the flu and being ill … if it is flu …

  • MacroV says:

    What orchestra was Sir Simon conducting? It’s understandable that they couldn’t have a replacement singer ready to go, and also that they wouldn’t have rehearsed something else to cover this contingency. Guess they could have played something unrehearsed.

    • Dianne says:

      The orchestra was the Australian World Orchestra which comes together every two years for three performances. It is made up of Australians returning home from playing in leading world orchestras such as the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra as well as outstanding players from Australian orchestras. It represents over 50 orchestras.

      The concept gives a rare opportunity to showcase these talented players. Sir Simon Rattle was guest conductor this year. Zubin Mehta conducted Right of Spring and Mahler 1 in 2013.

      I was at the sold out Melbourne concert. Irrespective of the unavoidable change of program, the audience was very appreciative.

      • sceenname says:

        Preceded by two standing ovations in Sydney after which Sir Simon stated this orchestra deserves National Treasure status.

  • Pavel Dvorak says:

    I attended the concert and while was obviously very sorry to miss the one and only Magdalena, and had second thoughts about the price I paid for the tickets, it was a beautiful performance in all aspects and the Bruckner piece was completely extraordinary. The program was wonderfully constructed I realised and in the end felt like looking at a masterpiece painting with a corner cut off. Should you enjoy the rest of the canvas or feel sorry about the missing piece? Your choice.