Why is Vienna being so nice to the Met?

Why is Vienna being so nice to the Met?


norman lebrecht

June 16, 2017

The Met got into a panic when Kristine Opolais pulled out of its new David McVicar production of Tosca, opening on New Year’s Day.

So it begged Vienna for the loan of Yoncheva, because no other big soprano will do.

And Vienna graciously obliged ‘as an act of solidarity and collegiality to the Metropolitan Opera.’

Two questions: what’s in it for Vienna?

And would the Met have been as gracious and collegial if, say, Vienna asked for the releae of Netrebko?




Here’s Vienna’s press release:

The management of the Wiener Staatsoper has released soprano Sonya
Yoncheva from her contract for three performances of Faust in
January/February 2018 as an act of solidarity and collegiality to the
Metropolitan Opera in order to enable her to take over the premiere and
long run of performances of Tosca in New York. The artist will instead
return to the Vienna State Opera as Tosca in the 2019/2020 season. Sonya
Yoncheva will be replaced by Anita Hartig as Marguerite on January 25th,
28th, and February 2nd, 2018. She in turn will be replaced by Olga
Bezsmertna as Micaëla in Carmen on January 23rd, 26th and 29th January.




  • Sue says:

    Netrebko is very over-rated. I cannot understand the fascination with this singer.

    • Mattia Battistini says:

      Agreed. But then again so many of the current “stars” are. And amongst these also Kristine Opolais, whose voice is now fibrous and raucous, probably due to years of strain on a so-so technique… and indeed she is pulling out of spinto roles such as the MET Tosca!

      • Sue says:

        Absolutely agreed about Mrs. Nelsons, also Mrs. Rattle! Have never heard anything from Kristine or Magdalena that I’ve been impressed about!!

    • Royer says:

      Maybe you are an armchair critic who knows very little? I am not offering an opinion but she is obviously popular.

    • Bruce says:

      I think NL’s point was that she’s big & famous & in demand, not that she’s good.

    • Ben says:

      God bless you. I am glad I ain’t the only one thinking of the same.

  • Quincy Liu says:

    Met released Yoncheva for the London Norma when Netrebko cancelled her commitment to Covent Garden.


  • Ungeheuer says:

    The explanation is quite simple: They are all desperate for stars. Or rather, desperate for the breadcrumbs remaining.

  • Hm says:

    If one house asks for a singer to be released from a contract at another one, this is done with the consent of the singer. So, if a houses refuses to do so, they will have a disgruntled singer who may decide to cancel eventually anyway, plus that the relationship between two opera houses will be soured.

  • theoperacritic says:

    Firstly, the Met new Tosca opens on New Year’s Eve not New Year’s Day.
    Secondly, there is a lot of camaraderie within the opera profession, and it is not unusual for companies to help each other out, or for singers to jump in at the last moment if a fellow singer becomes indisposed at the last moment. I doubt that Vienna expects anything in return – except for the same kind of co-operation if the situation is reversed.

  • mr oakmountain says:

    Since every opera house can find itself in a similair problem, they’d all be well advised to help each other when they can.
    Symphony orchestras do it all the time when a principal or section leader falls ill and the piece is especially taxing. English orchestras even seem to pool e.g. their principal brass players when playing Mahler 8 or Alpensinfonie.

  • Anne Blanc says:

    The reality is, if this Tosca is a success for Yoncheva (along with the HD) it will make her more famous. Thus Vienna, having a good relationship with her benefits Vienna in the long run. It’s called forward thinking Norman.

  • MacroV says:

    Professional courtesy.

  • Raymond says:

    And the release is from just 3 perfs and Marguerite is easy to cast.

  • Leon Levitt use Leon says:

    Netrebko is vivacious and provocative. She was beautiful ten years ago, not nearly so striking today. She has an impressive repertoire and does justice to every role she essays. She does not have the purity of tone of a Kathleen Battle, but who does? We are lucky to have her in this era of uncertainty among operatic singers amid the complication of shakiness at the box office.