Just in: Covent Garden replaces absent star with ex-trainee

Just in: Covent Garden replaces absent star with ex-trainee


norman lebrecht

May 08, 2018

The Royal Opera House has announced Kristine Opolais’ replacement as Elsa in next month’s Lohengrin.

She is the Irish soprano Jennifer Davis.

Until last year, Jennifer was a member of the ROH Jette Parker training programme.

That’s a big step up to Elsa.



  • Cynical Bystander says:

    I assume that ROH know what they doing and Ms Davis may deliver a Sutherland style breakthrough. But, given the ‘noise’ surrounding the original casting of Elsa, it does seem slightly perplexing that at the highest prices for a non ring opera, they should be taking such a risk and placing a great deal of undue pressure on Ms Davis’ larynx. I wish her well, but it seems that we might all need it given the thought of David Alden and the likliehood of a stage full of grey coats and rubble.

    • Yes Addison says:

      I don’t really look at the name David Alden and think “gray/dirty.” The recent Semiramide was gorgeous, and the Met Ballo was striking too. But beyond that, his productions are usually very thoughtful. He’s not just a paint-by-numbers hack.

    • Lewis H says:

      I went tonight. The set is a bit grey and it’s certainly not a meadow on the banks of the river Scheldt but it works well enough. Jennifer Davis was sensational and it was worth the risk. I hope she goes on to even greater things. Christine Goerke (also a former “trainer” but this time at the Met) was equally excellent.

  • Rog says:

    It’s called the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme. And your use of the term ‘ex-trainee’ is inapposite, misleading and disrespectful. But, again, why should we be surprised?

  • Nik says:

    Wow. ‘In at the deep end’ doesn’t begin to cover it. Couldn’t they find anyone with a bit of experience? Someone who’s sung anything other than light repertoire?
    Ticket sales have been less than impressive so far. This is unlikely to help.

  • Brian Walsh says:

    In the history of all musical theatre, there are quite a few instances where the “stand in” has taken their chance eagerly and gone on to better things. Good Luck to Jennifer D.

  • Anon says:

    What a lazy, dismissive and snide little article. All the best to Jennifer Davis, an accomplished and talented soprano – so much more than the “ex-trainee” you try to describe her as.

    • Nik says:

      How much Wagner has she done, and where?

      • Vladislav says:

        There was a time when Melchoir sang his first Siegmund.

        Be open minded.

      • Stuart says:

        I had done no Wagner at all, until I did my first (Erik, Age 28 and Lohengrin before my 30th birthday). Some 25 years later, still at it, for good or bad.

        We ALL did our first Wagner at some point and we’re ALLL ex-trainees of somewhere.

        Best of to Jennifer. ROH would not have asked her to step up unless they had complete confidence that she was more than ready to acquit herself with honour.

  • Bill Worley says:

    For all the people who are moaning about this, please ask yourselves:

    I. How many sopranos actually know Elsa?” and

    i. Of those how many would actually be free at less than a month’s notice?

    All I can say is good luck to Jennifer Davis

  • Marcus Clayton says:

    The Royal Opera House must have good reason to put in Jennifer Davis as Elsa.
    I wonder if she was the official cover for the role?
    There aren’t many “big-name” sopranos who sing the role, and the ones who do are likely engaged elsewhere.
    Since this is a new production there are likely several weeks of rehearsal, and they may have wanted to make sure they got a soprano who could fully rehearse the opera.
    This is a big break for Ms. Davis, and I for one, wish her all the best.

  • Barry says:

    Better than Oppolais.

  • Rob says:

    Good luck to the gal!

  • Anna Barry says:

    Jenny is a stunning soprano. Her Donna Anna at Opera North was glorious. You

  • Vladislav says:

    Every professional is an ex-trainee.

    But enough of semantics.

    Good for her that she is not a perpetual ‘young artist’ and has actually broken into this toxic opera world and bagged the role of Elsa.

    We shall see how she does- in the mean time, toi toi toi!

  • Dominic Stafford says:

    Oh, for God’s sake. It’s Elsa. Don’t compare it to other Wagner roles. It’s a lyric role. She’s already sung Adina, which arguably has far greater perils than Elsa. She’s also sung Donna Anna.

  • Tony O Dalaigh says:

    What a wonderful chance for this soprano – one of the many good Irish female singers now making their names on the international opera circuit

  • Jenny B says:

    I thought Christine Opolais would pull out, given who the conductor is. Utterly predictable.

  • EricB says:

    “ex-trainee” ?
    Haven’t we ALL been ex-trainees ? Some of us have a career now…

  • Ger Lawlor says:

    Every opera singer in the world is an ‘ex-trainee’ Stupid description of a wonderful young soprano.

  • Peter Smith says:

    I heard Ms Davis at the matinee today. She was terrific. All the crits I have seen agree.

    ROH 1 Lebrecht 0

    • Rog says:

      I heard her in the general rehearsal and she was indeed terrific. Looking forward to seeing and hearing her again on Wednesday. ROH has got this SO right and Lebrecht (and all the moaners here and on the ROH website) SO wrong.

  • David Gifford says:

    She was terrific, and I’m sure couldn’t care less about your mean-spirited article.

  • Richard France says:

    I hope that those snide critics above are eating their words. I have been going to Lohengrin for 67 years all over Europe and I have never heard Elsa better sung or better acted. At last the Royal Opera may have shed their habit of casting ‘names’ who are past their best. Bravissima Jennifer Davis!