Exclusive: Rome fires soprano for not singing out at rehearsal

Exclusive: Rome fires soprano for not singing out at rehearsal


norman lebrecht

January 20, 2019

Jessica Nuccio is a rising Italian soprano on the international circuit.

Last week, she was due to sing four Violettas in La traviata at Rome Opera. At the general rehearsal, she obtained permission from the conductor to ‘mark’ her part, not singing out in full voice because it was just 36 hours before the opening.

This did not please the company’s artistic director, Alessio Vlad, who launched into a tirade against Jessica in front of the whole company, an assault so severe that she suffered a panic attack and an ambulance had to be called.

She was then fired from the production. The next day, the theatre demanded that she present a doctor’s note to pretend that she had invalided herself out of the production, which was absolutely not the case. She was fit to sing.

There is no union protection for singers in Italy and no forum in which they can speak out.

Friends of Jessica contacted Slipped Disc without her knowledge to share her experience as a warning to all.


UPDATE: Here’s what Rome Opera says.



  • Max says:

    Wow, with friends like these…

  • Harrumph says:

    Alessio Vlad is a malignant horse’s ass and I hope Nuccio sues him to shreds, as well as Rome Opera if they support him.

    • Viola da Bracchio says:

      A quick squint at the Rome Opera’s website reveals a News Update – that #metoo litigant and veteran abuser Daniele Gatti has just been appointed Music Director! It would be hard to imagine a better-qualified team to stage an opera about a baselessly vilified woman than Gatti & Vlad – they can channel their own professional experience of abusing women, in true Stanislavskian method. Act III, in the casino, will never have been as faithfully rendered as at Vlad’s psychotic inquisition in front of the entire opera company.

      • Caravaggio says:

        Yes it is incredible and disgusting that the other pig at Rome Opera, DG, was appointed and also getting hired to conduct in other cities, even after Amsterdam rightfully gave him the boot. At the end of the day and after all is said and done, these two pigs will never rise to footnote status in the annals (no pun intended) of music.

  • Caravaggio says:

    She needs to sue the bastard for abuse and negligence to say the least. And I hope she does.

    • Rgiarola says:

      However if she doesn’t sue? Can we start affirming that she was wrong?

      • Saxon Broken says:

        No, we can not conclude that. She has not made any kind of statement about what happened. And there can be good reasons why people don’t want to sue.

  • Viola da Bracchio says:

    Rome may be the nation’s capital – but the reputation of Rome Opera has been in the doldrums for many a long year – almost certainly due to Vlad the Impaler. A small portfolio of well-worn crowd-pullers, in revivals that have seen better days. Their new Traviata was to have pressed the re-set button (directed by an invited Sofia di Coppola) – but the Neanderthal Vlad has pulled the rug from under its feet, scuppering his theatre’s reputation yet again, at the eleventh hour. It’s appalling that this socially inadequate thug rules the Rome Opera like a private fiefdom. No doubt this vile individual is yet another appointment by the Lega Nord, and operates in their typically charmless and gormless manner. I feel sorry for their artists, most particularly for Nuccio. If the conductor (Rizzo) had any balls, he would have stood up for his artiste – but the gutless little weasel stepped aside, to let her take the drop for his psychopathic boss. I doubt anyone with so little moral fibre could conduct Traviata properly – he’s as guilty as The Impaler. Just when it seemed that Italy’s international reputation couldn’t dive any further, along comes Alessio Vlad to deliver the coup de grace. Hopefully Ms Nuccio and her colleagues will take the hint – and seek work elsewhere. Nothing good is ever going to happen at the Rome Opera – as we come up towards the dawn of the Year Of The Pig, they have their very own personal PIG in charge of the opera house – Alessio Vlad.

  • Sanity says:

    She has a contract. If she has been passed fit to sing then Rome has to pay her.

    End of story.

  • Brian says:

    There is clearly more to the story. No singer gets fired for marking at one rehearsal. The more likely scenario is that she didn’t sing out at any of the rehearsals and this was the last straw. It could also be that singing out at the final dress rehearsal is a requirement of the contract that she failed to fulfill. Whatever, it is impossible to judge without knowing both sides of the story.

    • Martain Smith says:

      Indeed, I’m afraid you might be right there. Who knows the details…?

    • Larry says:

      I agree with Brian 100% There must be more to this story.

    • Lilas Pastia says:

      Does Rome have an (invited/ticketed) audience at their general rehearsal?

    • Tito says:

      I know many singers in the chorus of that theater and I can assure that Jessica sang in full voice every day before the general reahearsal.
      It is impossible to behave in this horrible way with a serious and professional artist!
      I suppose there are other hidden interests and Jessica Nuccio was the unwitting victim of everything

    • Observer says:

      Exactly. I know very well one of the soloists of this Traviata, who told me the whole story. She arrived much later than the others at the rehearsals. She had a consistent un-collaborative behavior during all the previous rehearsals, never singing in full voice. The conductor himself was quite upset, it seems. When she refused to sing in full voice at the (open) dress rehearsal, it was fully legitimate from Alessio Vlad (an otherwise very mild and kind person) to ask her to sing in full voice. And to fire her after she aggressively refused to do it. Which artistic director would allow a singer to sing a premiere when she never sang in full voice during the rehearsals?
      It is quite laughable to read that Alessio Vlad was appointed by Lega Nord… people don’t even know their facts. He is there since many years, well before Lega got the power.

      • Tito says:

        I’m sorry, but all that you write in not true!!! Reliable voices inside the theatre told me that she arrived only 3 days later and just yesterday I heard two recordings of the rehearsals made by a chorist that points out that she wonderfully sang in full voice! Her behaviour was always collaborative with all and she was allowed by Vlad and the conductor to mark her part in the general rehearsal in order to preserve her voice for her first performance wich would have been only 36 hours later. We all know how hard and heavy is the role of violetta! All theaters have always to guarantee the soloists’ vocal health! During and after the rehearsal the conductor wasn’t absolutely upset.
        The fact that police, theatre doctor and ambulance have intervented, highlights that Vlad was as much as aggressive and threatening to cause a severe panic attack to poor Jessica!
        Vlad is Known in that theatre and outside to be an irascible and often aggressive man!

  • Cantantelirico says:

    Watch to see who will take her place and you will understand everything.

  • Tito says:

    I know many singers in the chorus of that theater and I can assure that Jessica sang in full voice every day before the general reahearsal.
    It is impossible to behave in this horrible way with a serious and professional artist!
    I suppose there are other hidden interests and Jessica Nuccio was the unwitting victim of everything!

  • Hanna Nahan says:

    Vlad is a nasty piece of work. He needs bringing down to size…

  • Tamino says:

    So who replaced her on short notice, prepared for the role and staging and all that?
    Occam’s razor would imply, we find the reason for Vlad’s mafioso stunt there.

  • BrianB says:

    If this is presented as it happened, union or no union, there is legal recourse here for her. Btw, the conductor should have protested. perhaps he did but it’s not in the article.

  • BrianB says:

    One note–“General rehearsal” is misleading as a translation of the Italian “prova generale.” In English the term connotes merely a rehearsal with orchestra, chorus and principals on stage. But in Italy the prova generale is the dress rehearsal and is or has often been considered practically a full performance.

    • Tamino says:

      …yes, and singers have only sung with half the power in it for centuries, to not stress the voice right before the Premiere. Not singing out fully some physically demanding parts in dress rehearsals is standard operating procedure in the opera world.

      • BrianB says:

        Oh, absolutely. My comment was not to imply fault on Ms. Nuccio’s part in any way. Just to clarify terminology.

  • Nicola Cattò says:

    Dear Mr Lebrecht, I’m the editor of the Italian classical music magazine MUSICA. We’ve just published Alessio Vlad’s response to the article above. Here it is: http://www.rivistamusica.com/la-querelle-nuccio-opera-di-roma-parola-a-alessio-vlad/
    I hope you will pay attention to it.
    Best wishes
    Nicola Cattò

  • John Rook says:

    Let’s wait and get some more information from people who were there before continuing the slagfest.