Last-minute tenor switch at Covent Garden

Last-minute tenor switch at Covent Garden


norman lebrecht

January 22, 2019

The Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko, who has received terrible reviews as Gherman in a controversial ROH Queen of Spades, pulled out due to illness.

The Russian Sergey Polyakov, who has sung the role at the Mariinsky, flew in to sing the role fully on stage, despite having no time for rehearsal.

UPDATE: Antonenko returned to sing Gherman on the 19th and will sing again tonight.

UPDATE: This just in from ROH at 1830: Aleksandrs Antonenko is indisposed and not able to sing the performance of The Queen of Spades this evening. The role of Gherman will be performed by Sergey Polyakov


  • AB says:

    He has been a cover for Antonenko and rehearsed before the arrival of Antonenko and during some time when Antonenko was sick during the final rehearsals.

  • Robin Worth says:

    It won’t save this dire production : I was at the first performance and one could tell that the audience was underwhelmed by everything except Pappano, the chorus and the orchestra. Muted applause, boos for Herheim and not many curtain calls. Antonenko was not great, but even the greatest tenor would struggle in this vulgar and irritating distortion of a great work

    • Ms.Melody says:

      I have not seen this production, but if it is anything like the Salzburg ‘s 2018 horror show, then it is hopefully, doomed. Antonenko’s voice is in serious trouble. He was simply inadequate as Radames at the Met. The role of Gherman in the Queen of spades is extremely taxing both vocally and dramatically, so I anticipate that he will continue to have difficulties during this run.

      • Marshall says:

        You are being kind about Antonenko as Radames at the Met-he was horrible and so off pitch that I don’t know how Netrebko could sing with him. Her husband would have been much better.

      • Una says:

        Yes, if he has a bad cold like so many at the moment. Doomed if you cancel, doomed if you struggle on and get a bad review. Soprano last night sounded she was struggling too. It’s the nature of live music and fragile human voices.

        I got sick to death of Tchaikovsky being the lead in this opera, playing a dummy grand piano all the time and then conducting badly. No wonder there were plenty of seats left at ROH last night! Queen if Spades rewritten by the stage director. Yes, the best out of it all was Felicity Palmer at nearly 75 as living proof of how a good and stable singing technique can pay off, and what came from the pit. Ghastly production.

        • Ms.Melody says:

          The trailer is available on you tube and from a few minutes that I could see it looked a real mess. Covent Garden had another production with the composer being part of the action a few years ago. La Donna del Lago. It was also weird and confusing, but with Juan Diego Flores, Joyce di Donato and Daniela Barcelona the singing was so great that one could overlook the directorial failures.
          With suboptimal singing and bizarre staging it can well become intolerable.The only thing Antonenko has going for him is his ability to sing in Russian without an accent.
          Queen of spades is a beautiful opera, full of drama and wonderful melodies. I would recommend a DVD with Grigorian, Gulegina and Leiferkus from Mariinsky. The staging and singing are first class.

  • Edmund says:

    It was 16th January and not last night. Antonenko did the performance on 19th January.

  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    I decided not to go to the live cinema streaming of the opera this evening even though I really love all Tchaikovsky’s operas and see this one too seldom – partly because of the bad reviews of the production, but also because I really find this tenor hard to listen to.

  • Harry Levy says:

    He’s awful. Dreadful Rhadames at the Met this year.

  • Dobrogost Krole says:

    This opera will have to be renamed anyway to conform to contemporary intersectionality demands.
    Something like “The leading Gender-Fluid of Garden Tools”, perhaps