Just in: Alagna dumps Bayreuth

Just in: Alagna dumps Bayreuth


norman lebrecht

June 30, 2018

One of the more precarious pieces of Katharina Wagner casting has proved a risk too far.

The Festival announced today:

‘Roberto Alagna will not be singing the role of Lohengrin.

On 29 June 2018 the artist informed the festival through his agency: ‘Mr Alagna has to cancel the new production of Lohengrin because he wasn’t able to sufficiently study the part due to work overload.”

UPDATE: Bayreuth wants to sue Alagna.

UPDATE: Bayreuth cries: Lend us a tenor!



  • stan says:

    it not because of work he just is not right for the part and he has the wrong voice the part and he knows it

    • H Rosen says:

      What exactly is the “right voice”? He is a wonderful, Italianate tenor, the kind Wagner wrote the part for, because, you know what, there weren’t any “Wagnerian” tenors back then..and Mr Wagner wanted all his singers to sing in Italian style, so how, genius man, does he have to he wrong voice? He is a wonderful singer and would have done it wonderfully had it been right, just as Piotr Beclava in dresden that you can buy on DVD and Placido Domingo in his prime.

      • stan says:

        To H. Rosen,
        If you do not know what the right voice for Wagner is, give up opera. Maybe you should listen to Windgassen,to find out what the right voice is.

        • Yes Addison says:

          Windgassen seems an odd name to reach back into the annals of the departed to select as the ideal. I actually agree that he sustained Wagner roles well for a none-too-heroic tenor, better than some who followed him (e.g., Hofmann, Kollo, Jerusalem), but he was criticized too for not having “the right voice.” Which just goes to show that different generations have different ideas about this. And also that if we want to hear the operas, sometimes we have to make do with the best of what we’ve got.

      • Ruben Greenberg says:

        I agree that he would be perfect for the part. The only trouble is that I’m not sure whether he has ever sung in German. In French and Italian, his wonderful diction is such an important part of his art.

        • Ruben Greenberg says:

          …but then again, maybe there exists a French version of this opera and Alagna intended to sing it in French.

      • Razz Matazz says:

        Please – Beczala, Piotr Beczala … (sorry, don’t have the Polish ‘l’ with a slash on my keyboard)!

        • H Rosen says:

          To STAN.
          Wagner wrote for Singers w Italian rep at their core, there was no Wagner before Wagner..get it? After Wagner a certain type of singer emerged and sang his stuff in a certain way, but but how he conceived it. He sent all his singers to the most Italian voice teacher there was.

          • Bart Wauters says:

            That’s the smartest reply I’ve ever heard to the “Wagner Singer” nonsense. Thank you very much, I’ll use it.

  • ketzel says:

    I remember reading that Nicolai Gedda sang Lohengrin but withdrew early because it was darkening his voice. This was the right decision, ditto for Alagna. Singers have to take care of the instrument, they can’t do everything they want to do.

    • Arrighi says:

      He should have withdrawn earlier.That’s all. Three days before rehearsals begin.What a shame!

      • Elsa says:

        Exactly! He was absolutely unprofessional. He didn’t give a damn, simple as that! So many singers would have given EVERYTHING for a chance in Bayreuth! And yet they chose someone who did this. Now god knows who will they be able to cast in the very last minute… Total nightmare situation!

  • Vienna calling says:

    This rude and overly emotional conversation set to Wagner music would definitely result in the gods killing some dwarves.

  • Tamino says:

    ‚couldn‘t study the part, due to work overload.‘

    simply unprofessional. There are few professional groups, who have such a long preview on their schedules, than professional singers in the top league.

    Singers are not brain surgeons, who at the beginning of each day must be uncertain how long their work will last.

    If he still can not structure himself, that‘s just silly.

    • Elsa says:

      Agreed! Not to mention that he decided to cancel this engagement right before the start of the rehearsals. Absolutely inexcusable!!!

  • Elvira says:

    Simply panic attack!
    This is a mighty problem when you are at the top.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Facts: It’s too late for Alagna, as the voice is now too old and leathery for an italianate Lohengrin. The German language is non existent to him which would make it near impossible to memorize the lines let alone enunciate properly. Remember the fraudulent Elsa by Anna Netrebko which she could only get through teleprompted. Same thing: No knowledge of the German language.

  • Paul Thomason says:

    Who are the right voices for Lohengrin? I would suggest Franz Völker as being pretty ideal, based on his recordings, especially the incandescent excerpts of act 3 from Bayreuth in 1936 with Furtwängler conducting: true bel canto singing, creamy lyric sound, phrased intimately and beautifully, a reminder that there is a rich tradition of fairytale German Romantic knighthood. Sandor Konya is a more recent example of a superb Lohengrin.

  • Jenny B says:

    There is only one Lohengrin – Klaus Florian Vogt. With Solveig Kringelborn, Waltaude Meier and Tom Fox, produced by Nikolaus Lehnhoff at Baden-Baden in 2006. Forget the rest – this is stunning!!

    • Harry Levy says:

      Saw his Met debut in Lohengrin as well as in Bayreuth and I agree – supurb.

    • Robin Worth says:

      Vogt and Harteros in Berlin a couple of years ago were so good that the dire Holten production faded into the background. Is there anyone around today who can compare?

  • Whimbrel says:

    I heard Klaus Florian Vogt singing Lohengrin at Covent Garden three days ago (final performance tonight) and he was simply wonderful. Beautiful pianos, power when needed, no harshness at all.

    • Jenny B says:

      I’m very envious!!

    • Erich says:

      If you like his wide eyed, everybody’s favourite son-in-law, pushed up white voiced ersatz choirboy sound, that is…I hate it!

        • Rog says:

          …to which I would add that, whilst his intonation was ok at the general rehearsal, at the performance I attended early in the run he was very noticeably flat in the middle of his range.

      • Jenny B says:

        Lohengrin is a fairy prince. I want my fairy prince to be wide eyed and sound like a choir boy. They should not be down and dirty, but ethereal and above the fray.

  • Elsa says:

    The most important question to be asked here is: why on earth was he chosen to sing this in the first place? When will these casting managers and artistic directors ever learn??? Why do they insist on casting totally overrated, egofreak “superstars” who don’t give a damn about their engagements, even the most important ones? This man dumped Bayreuth, nothing less, and just before the start of the rehearsals. He wasn’t really worried about what his voice can do or not. Had this been the case, he would have withdrawn from this production much earlier. He was just hugely unprofessional! Period. Simply outrageous! The real superstars of this profession don’t do this sort of thing. Ever! I’m absolutely sure that Alagna would be a bad Lohengrin. But other singers who were also completely incompatible with this sort of repertoire and still were cast in Bayreuth and other places (like Plácido Domingo) prepared themselves as much as they could – and did a decent, correct job at the end. Roberto Alagna, on the other hand, doesn’t think he needs to bother. And gets away with it! Why isn’t this kind of posture severely punished? This man should be put in a black list, and not only in Bayreuth.

    • Nick2 says:

      “Simply outrageous! The real superstars of this profession don’t do this sort of thing. Ever!”

      I wonder what Elsa means by much earlier? Three months? Six months? Longer? I ask because no-one would ever claim that during her illustrious career Dame Janet Baker was anything but the consummate professional. In 1974 she was booked to sing at the Edinburgh Festival in her debut as Alceste with Scottish Opera. Performances had been advertised and all tickets sold. Some weeks beforehand – I am not sure of the exact timing but I believe it was not more than one month prior to the start of production rehearsals – Dame Janet spoke to the company to inform them that having learned the role and started to sing it through, she found the tessitura difficult for her voice and asked to withdraw. This was an artist who had earlier learned Dorabella, Octavian and Dido in The Trojans specifically for Scottish Opera.

      At very short notice she was replaced by Julia Varady who was magnificent in the role. Dame Janet’s voice gradually changed and she finally sang Alceste the year before her retirement from staged opera.

      So I take issue with Elsa’s “real superstars . . .don’t do this sort of thing. Ever!”

      • Elsa says:

        He announced his withdrawal last Friday. If I’m not mistaken, rehearsals started YESTERDAY. On Monday. Do you really think that what he did can be compared to this situation Janet Baker went through??? He didn’t jump out a month before. He dumped Bayreuth less than three days before rehearsals started! THREE DAYS. And with that allegation! How can anyone possibly defend or minimize what this man did?????

        • Nick2 says:

          I think it is relatively immaterial whether it is one day, one week, two weeks, a month or whatever, Any withdrawal at that stage will cause major problems, let alone major disappointment to audiences who have booked and paid for their tickets months ahead.

          I grant you one thing, though. To withdraw immediately prior to production rehearsals and trot out as a lame excuse “work overload” is indeed a disgrace.

          • Elsa says:

            Disgrace is surely the word here! But, although jump outs always cause problems, the later they happen the worse. Much worse! Finding another (and free!) Lohengrin six months before rehearsals start is one thing. A month before, another. Three days before, a nightmare!

    • M. Simon says:

      Your precious Kaufmann did the same thing at the Met (Manon) with only 2 1/2 weeks before opening nite
      Did all of you attack jim that dame way.

  • jan neckers says:

    Greatest Lohengrins on record: Fernando De Lucia, Aureliano Pertile and Sandor Konya. And what a pity nobody ever asked Carlo Bergonzi. In an interview he said he once studied the role in Italian but opera houses, even in Italy, more and more performed Wagner in German.

  • Andrew Matthews says:

    I Don’t buy Alagna’s version of events. He knew perfectly well what role he was taking on; he just saw lots of other engagements with fat fees coming along and took them instead of engaging a teacher to help him learn the role. Typical of his type, money first, money second and money third. Not Bayreuth’s fault, he wasn’t forces to agree a contract for the role.

  • Frances Henry says:

    I guess none of you are old enough or listen to re-mastered recordings to recognize the greatest Lohengrin of them all: Lauritz Melchior.

  • Eric Snodgrass says:

    People should be applauding those who take risks and try to expand horizons. It didn’t work out this time, and another experienced tenor is taking over. Not a big deal in that world.

  • Frances Henry says:

    Mystery solved: Piotr Beczala has been announced.