Biz blues: Columbia gloom as Deborah Voigt quits

Biz blues: Columbia gloom as Deborah Voigt quits


norman lebrecht

July 10, 2019

The American mega-soprano has quit Columbia Artists for  Adam Cavagnaro’s San Francisco-based Promethean Artists.

Voigt aims to do less opera in the years ahead, more song recitals. Still, the walkout stings Columbia which is suffering a string of losses.

photo Heidi Gutman



  • anon says:

    She’s retired.

    Is there a market for retired Wagnerian sopranos?

    I want to book one to sing at my son’s bar mitzvah.

  • Sarah says:

    Surely you could have found far a more kinder up to date photo of Debbie than that! Ha!

    • Anonymous says:

      are you fat shaming? what is so unkind about a healthy singer in her prime?

      • Bone says:

        Maybe mega shaming?

      • CJ says:

        You are certainly joking, you know very well that being overweight is not healthy. And what is unkind is digging up an old photograph when you know that someone, after a huge effort, is now much more physically elegant.

        • Saxon Broken says:

          Being “slightly overweight” is actually very healthy. Being grossly overweight, on-the-other-hand is very bad for your health.

      • Emil says:

        What is unkind is that she has not looked like this for 20 years, and made a deliberate choice to change her appearance.

    • Nik says:

      Calling her a “mega-soprano” probably wasn’t strictly necessary either.

    • JPAULO says:

      The updated photo is beautiful, but she was lovely when larger too !! I applaud her taking steps to be healthy. Huge voices don’t stay the same forever. I hope her new direction in life brings her much happiness and that the weight loss doubles the length of her life. There is life after Wagner !!

  • Yes Addison says:

    I don’t think it would be possible for Voigt to do less opera in the years ahead than she has since 2014-15.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Her Operabase profile contains zero. This is a mega soprano?

  • Michelle Schulman says:

    I didn’t even think she could SING anymore…

  • Simon says:

    No sting. The agency hasn’t cared much for the opera business for a long time now and they’re right to abandon it. The margins are too slim.

  • Cantantelirico says:

    If you had the opportunity to stand within arms length of the brilliance of her sound, you would not be able to be so cruel or dismissive. This was one of the greatest voices the American conservatory system ever produced. Everyone retires. Do singers have to ask the public they served for permission to leave an ungrateful industry? I imagine that most of the ridiculous comments here are made by people who have never studied singing or placed a foot on the stage. As a result you speak from ignorance. Debbie deserves better.

    • John Sorel says:

      Remember that on SD they damn you if you don’t retire in a timely fashion – but also damn you if you do.

    • Martain Smith says:

      I agree totally! It was a voice of even, gleaming power and depth – an ideal Ariadne (and with so much more potential)! Everyone has their issues (not least singers) – but it seems the Covent Garden dilemma propelled decisions…whether or not other factors played a role.
      Significant is that it’s time singers per se. reclaim their significance and power!
      No house or director can do a show without them – and if you have a voice like Voigt – let alone a Tebaldi or Nilsson – then use your leverage – and damn them!
      As Jon Vickers said (in essence)…there are sufficient maestri and venues to choose from – NO capitulation to incompetence or ignorant fads!
      Why do people still buy Björling, Callas, Corelli, – despite inferior audio quality, etc? These singers had personality, training, artistic integrity and individuality which is generally lacking today!
      Of course there are good voices among this generation – but they must learn to claim their significance, and blossom accordingly!
      There’s just a chance they may actually become great – through their artistry, and not through PR!

  • Martain Smith says:

    With all this PC sh.. about rights here and rights there – no one appeared effectively worried about the significance of a silly black dress in London which this commanding soprano at her peak (alas) allowed to influence her future, and – as a result – ultimate vocal decline.
    In the past two decades only Lise Davidsen can rank with an instrument of this dimension and quality. She is not exactly “Twiggy”- so let’s hope she tells houses and so-called “Directors” where to go, and not compromise any aspect of her physique or instrument!

    • Yes Addison says:

      Voigt didn’t have gastric bypass because she was replaced in a revival of Ariadne auf Naxos, if that’s what you mean. She’s said many times that she had it for health reasons. She had tried and failed for years to lose weight, she was prediabetic, she was having trouble standing for any length of time because her knees were giving out, and she was not happy in that body.

      I agree that her singing was better in the first half of her career than the second, and I didn’t get pleasure from the performances of her last several seasons at the Met, but some things have to take precedence over others.

  • John Rook says:

    She’s certainly changed since this afternoon.