Paris blues: Les Huguenots loses a second star

Paris blues: Les Huguenots loses a second star


norman lebrecht

September 21, 2018

It’s the first showing of Meyerbeer’s opera in Paris since its centenary in 1936, and bits keep falling off.

First Diana Damrau pulled out after saying how excited she was to be in it.

Now Bryan Hymel has called in sick. Yosep Kang will replace him in the role of Raoul de Nangis.



  • Olassus says:

    That *is* a loss. For the whole run? What’s the illness?

    • A Hogbin says:

      I dread to think what the production will be like! Hymel is a fine tenor in this repertoire (I enjoyed a splendid Robert le Diable in London a few years ago – although, again, an almost joke-like production) but recently he seems to be taking on heavier roles and I wonder if that has taken its toll. He apparently attended most of the rehearsals by the look of the Opera de Paris website but 10 performances of this great role would be a major undertaking for any singer I’d have thought.

      • Olassus says:

        Hmm. I agree with you, but the strain of a role is not an illness, and an illness that causes withdrawal from an entire — and in this case important — run needs éclaircissement.

      • Mike Schachter says:

        Certainly 10 performances of a work of this magnitude is asking a lot of anyone?

  • A Hogbin says:

    “Illness” has a number of diplomatic uses I think in the context of singers these days. and for that matter in the past too. Mr Hymel seems to me to be one of the few current singers to have a robust and secure technique so one does wonder. But of course singers are human too. I think we do sometimes forget that. It will be interesting to hear his replacement over the wonders of the internet.

    • Olassus says:

      Diplomats are allowed to fib. Public opera houses should tell the truth, or a polite version of it anyway.

      To Mike’s point, Raoul is a robust high role, but it’s not really all *that* long in relation to the opera itself. There are seven principals.

      I believe Paris is doing the thing uncut — as it damn well should — or nearly so, and it would be helpful to know if BH quit due to the amount of work, to strain on his voice, to some annoyance about the staging, or to real illness.

      Voices like his come along rarely, especially when accompanied by good French, and now instead of an overdue, first-rate documenting of this score, we will have something less.

  • Fred says:

    robust technique? Hullo??? The Cd recorded announced all this, scratchy technique, wrong repertoire…..

  • almaviva says:

    They should give Michael Spyres a try, he was exquisite as Raoul when I saw him a few years back.

    • A Hogbin says:

      Indeed, Spyres has a light and fluty French-sounding tenor. Good in Les Martyrs recently. I doubt whether he would have been available at such notice though.

  • Fred says:

    spyres? Heard him in Enée’s aria on youtube, he was struggling with the piece, so he will also struggle with raoul. Is he also past his best? All that tenor talent burnt out so quickly?

  • Mark Billen says:

    I have longed to see this opera for several decades. I booked as soon as possible. Imagine my horror as I read that two major singers who both are great in Meyerbeer roles have withdrawn due to illness. Fortunately the YouTube performances of the replacement singers look promising and the pre production pictures indicate that this astonishing work is being respected.

  • A Hogbin says:

    I too was looking forward to this major revival, although dubious about Damrau so rather pleased she was replaced. However, now I think I’ll try and follow it on the net. I’ve only once seen it staged and that in the equally ill-fated Covent Garden revival in the Jeremy Isaacs error. It was the bizarre staging from Berlin and patchily cast, as well as very heavily cut. John Dew saw fit to excise the entirety of Act III and if that is not disrespecting Meyerbeer, I don’t know what is!!! One of the horrors of Meyerbeer revivals today is the manner in which they are still so heavily mutilated. Yes, some of the music may not be absolutely top drawer (whose is?) but the composer constructed these pieces as vast tapestries and to remove whole sections here and there destroys the integrity of his genius. The recent Berlin Prophete was marvellous in giving the score (almost – some shortening of the ballet I think) complete.