Breaking: More Paris chaos as Alagna drops out of Carmen

Breaking: More Paris chaos as Alagna drops out of Carmen


norman lebrecht

April 10, 2019

We hear that Roberto Alagna has pulled out of the first night of the new Calixto Bieito Carmen.

He is being replaced tonight as Don José by Jean-François Borras.

There has been no announcement, just a change to the website. They are trying to keep this as lowkey as possible.

Last week, Alagna bravely stepped in for the huge role of Otello after Pairs went into meltdown over a failing tenor. That may have been a stride too far for loyal Alagna.



Message from Roberto Alagna:

Dear Norman, Thanks to remember me sometimes for my greatest events ,like when I wasn’t wearing a tie in Wien and now a cancellation.Dont worry it’s just a simple human Bronchitis.Maybe some readers will also appreciate good news sometimes.All the best … Rob


  • Mike Schachter says:

    Surely Alagna did not find the production too dreadful to appear in?

    • Yes Addison says:

      Although Norman did describe it as new, I believe it’s only a new series of performances of the Bieito Carmen that has been going around the world since 1999…when Alagna was in it (Gheorghiu was Micaëla). He’s returned to it more than once since and has been filmed in it a couple times. So I doubt he minds it. It’s pretty tame for Bieito.

  • Stella Orion says:

    Mr. Lebrecht sorry to stop you in your attempt to launch hypothetical assumptions… It’s perfect to inform your readers about a cast change but sorry to disappoint you, it has just nothing to do with the last show of Otello, and with a supputed stride too far. From safe and reliable source, I inform you that Roberto Alagna is just suffering from a severe bronchitis, as does his wife, his two daughters and his grandson. Yet, they all did not sang one Otello too far, did they?

    You see, for once Roberto will not perform sick tomorrow. Many « bloggers » are used to raise his generous and courageous attitude against him, when he goes beyond himself to save the show and give, even ill, a memorable opera moment to his audience . So this time JF Borras will sing and Roberto Alagna will cure his bronchitis, as any human being and as plenty of singers are doing everywhere (you know the long list lately). No need to assume something else sorry 🙂

    And by the way I never read you highlighting the positive achievements of the French tenor. The last time you wrote about him, it was when he withdrew from one Samson’s show whereas he had allergic problems due to the fire on stage.
    Loyal Norman Lebrecht could also provide the positive information: maybe from time to time would it be welcome to notice the great energy and impetus of a singer who records and promotes a new CD, publishes a (very interesting) book on which he worked a lot, sang everywhere in a very tight schedule, and recently sang 10 successful Otellos in Paris just after returning from a run at the Met etc.

    Take care and keep healthy Mr Lebrecht, in Paris viruses are virulent!

  • Ms.Melody says:

    Best wishes to Roberto Alagna for a speedy, uneventful, recovery. Please take as long as you need and not a second less and ignore the critics until you are completely well. Also, in bocca al lupo to J.F.Borras. He has big shoes to fill

  • Anonymous says:

    What terrible luck to develop bronchitis just a short time after singing an Otello. And in April, as well!

    I do hope that Mr Alagna gets better very soon.

  • barry guerrero says:

    He and other artists would be wise to ignore what’s written here. Those who can, do; those you can’t, write blogs. I’m no exception.

  • Hornetsnest says:

    There are so many mistakes in these short lines it’s hard to know where to start. An article cobbled together from bits of tittle tattle and snippets overheard from a conversation in a cafe next to the Bastille probably..

    M. Borras and M. Alagna are sharing the role of José over the run, and M. Borras already sang the public dress rehearsal with distinction.

    M. Alagna stepped back into the Otello to replace an ailing tenor, having already sung a series of performances of this opera in February and March at the Bastille (6 at least). So his cancellation has nothing to do with Otello.

    Perlease.. These schadenfreude insinuations are just too much.

  • Carmencita says:

    What all these Alagna defenders here fail to understand is that this singer has built a horrible reputation as a professional over his career. This is nobody’s invention, snippet or envy: it is a fact. If he is really ill now, I don’t have a clue; but I do know that he could not care less about the commitments he takes. Norman has every right to doubt Alagna’s story. What he did to Bayreuth last year, for example, was beyond belief. And yet people in many big houses insist on inviting this totally unreliable (and, frankly, absolutely overrated!) artist. Pity! First because there are many singers out there who would do anything for the engagements he gets – and a much better job both on stage and off. And second because the (un)professional attitude that this gentleman demonstrates most of the time should end in pure ostracism – nothing else.

    • Hornetsnest says:

      I have no dog in this fight, and am not here to defend anyone.. I just can’t stand seeing nonsense and insinuations published and passed off as the truth. The insinuation here is that M. Alagna overdid it by jumping in for one Otello performance, and made himself sick for Carmen. He had already sung eight performances of Otello. Logically this would mean that he got worse over the run if ‘the stride too far’ allegation were correct. Or following the insinuation through to its conclusion, it would mean he couldn’t even have managed a second performance of Otello, let alone eight. He actually got stronger over the course of the performances..

      btw I was there for all eleven shows in the run..

  • Dana says:

    Sounds like la Scala 2007, without booed