Exclusive: Mezzo sings both parts in Vienna after tenor falls sick

Exclusive: Mezzo sings both parts in Vienna after tenor falls sick


norman lebrecht

February 02, 2023

Amazing scenes at the Vienna Volksoper.

Shortly before curtain-up at Orpheus in the Underworld, the tenor Daniel Kluge pulled out, feeling sick.

No time to find a substitute, so the French mezzosoprano Katia Ledoux, singing the role of Venus, simply doubled up as Orpheus in the tenor role. She sang, played and did the chitchat for both roles switching wigs and costumes between scenes. The applause was deafening at the end.

Has anyone done this before?

UPDATE: Katia – how I did it


  • Zelda Macnamara says:

    Not commenting on how this young woman performed, but why wasn’t the understudy available?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    How wonderful she deserves an award.

  • RW2013 says:

    Gwyneth Jones in Die Frau ohne Schatten.

  • Birgit says:

    I was in the audience yesterday! She was absolutely amazing in both roles.

  • Anonymous Bosch says:

    The only planned doubling of roles that I can think of is Birgit Nilsson singing both Elisabeth and Venus in the same performances, which necessitated only a body double in the final scene.

  • Siegfried says:

    Memorably in Berlin in 2002, the wonderful Waltraud Meier was singing Sieglinde in Die Walkure and stepped in to sing Fricka in the same performance. To have a singer of that calibre do that was an absolute dream.

  • Jon Teske says:

    If this was the Offenbach “Orpheus”. it is usually done as a broad farce. I played violin in the pit for a run of this work about 20 years ago. I remember our production had a fight with squirt guns and the entire orchestra opened umbrellas. We used Kazoos to play the opening chords for Also Spracht Zarathustra. I have twice seen an indisposed singer with laryngitis mime his part while an ace sight reader did his part from the pit (once for a local production of Fledermaus -role of Eisenstein) and another for a Monteverdi opera (the world is not crawling with people who know that one) where a male role mimed his part and a local female music professor sang from the pit. The Monteverdi was at the Kennedy Center in Washington and I was an auditor.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    Puzzled by the down votes for the comments praising her. I enjoy the rough and tumble of this comments column but this singer seems to have volunteered for an awesome challenge and pulled it off remarkably well.

    I would be interested to hear of an explanation of the down votes for the comments praising her.

    No problem with any down votes for my comment.

    • Here’s Why says:

      @Paul – I had the EXACT same thought and would have commented as such, but you beat me to it! Some people are simply fatuous or bitter or both.

  • Nemorino's Uncle says:

    So many folk commenting regarding a lack of Understudy…same folk that have piped up regarding the recent Tannhäuser at ROH. Understudies on the whole are hired by various houses but tend to be released by lunchtime on the day of a performance, and with sizable gaps between performances and other work commitments can be a good few hundred miles away were a last minute call necessary…or…due to House logistics/availability of the necessary support staff…Understudy rehearsals often take place very late in the main production rehearsal process…and mostly the week after said production has opened, so the Understudy isn’t really fully prepared in all aspects of the production.
    To have a fully 2nd standby cast…at an expected High level would be excessive in cost and a little naïve to feel that such high calibre artists would be free and available to just “sit in the wings” in case someone were indisposed. You’re literally talking hundreds and hundreds of artists per company, per season being paid “just in case”. Who pays for all of this, and quite frankly, there just aren’t that many singers around…especially at the A House level.

  • drummerman says:

    Brava to her!

  • In bocca al lupo says:

    Patricia Bardon sang both Ruggiero and Bradamante on the same night in Drottningholm when Anne Sophie fell ill.