Cher Public

Hunch confirmed

George Gagnidze and Zeljko Lucic will share the title role of Verdi’s Rigoletto at the Met this fall, replacing Simon Keenlyside, who is taking a necessary period of vocal rest for much of the year and temporarily removing the role of Rigoletto from his repertoire. Gagnidze will sing the first seven performances of the opera, while Lucic—already scheduled to sing the December performances of the run—will also sing Rigoletto on November 13, 16, and 19.” So says the Met’s press office.  

What’s more, this year the Met will not simulcast opening night in Lincoln Center Plaza for the first time in human memory. The festivities will still be viewable in Times Square, or, for that matter from inside the house, since the company will offer discounted rush tickets ($25 in orchestra) for the gala.

  • If you are surprised by this raise your hand…..

    Just as I thought. I hope Keenlyside will have a speedy recovery and a prompt return to the repertoire where is is superb.

    • Milly Grazie

      I agree, and wish this wonderfully gifted and special artist a full vocal recovery. Am saddened that he has been misguided (and made choices) to venture into repertoire well beyond his vocal skill (Macbeth, Rigoletto etc).

      • armerjacquino

        I wish him the best, too. And we shouldn’t assume that rep choices were the reason for his problems. Plenty of singers of his vocal weight have sung Macbeth and Rigoletto with no problems.

        • Milly Grazie

          Allow me to clarify. I didn’t intend to state that his unwise choice of rep was to blame for his vocal difficulties, but am sure the heavier rep, which his voice and skills are most definitely not suited to didn’t help the situation. It’s easy to say that “plenty of singers blah blah blah” but they have their pipes and their skills. He has his, and every voice has its limitations. Am not alone in believing he has pushed his instrument unwisely.

          • armerjacquino

            No, understood, and hope I didn’t come across as combative. But none of us knows why this has happened, and speculation probably isn’t helpful. It’s all too easy for these conversations to solidify into ‘fact’. ‘Remember when Voigt was sacked because of a dress?’ ‘Remember when Dessay slagged off Sutherland?’ etc.

  • Chimene


  • steveac10

    Pity they couldn’t have given a few to Quinn Kelsey. He appears to have a bit of a gap during the run. I’m getting rather bored with their over-reliance on Lucic and Gagnidze in this rep for the last decade.

    Also -- they can find Rigolettos on short notice, but they’re still selling tickets to 6 Mimi-less Bohemes. Can it be that hard (especially when the Musetta is an accomplished Mimi and Hong is the likely cover)?

    • laddie

      Kelsey’s performance of Rigoletto BY FAR the best of Santa Fe so far this summer (Cold Mountain doesn’t open until this Saturday).

      • 98rsd

        LOVE Kelsey!

    • Gualtier M

      Those Mimi’s are being set aside for the projected return of Marina Poplavskaya who recently had her first child, a boy. The TBA Amelia Boccanegras are also for her but Haroutounian is covering and can take over. Other major theaters are not bothering to keep Poplavskaya in their short or long range planning.

      • LT

        That’s just great for Haroutounian. Keeping the seat warm for a lesser singer just because the other is supposedly a star. Typical Met philosophy.

        • Gualtier M

          Except that Haroutounian may well end up singing the entire run if Popsy cancels. And get the broadcast. Meanwhile the next announcement will concern the Fall Trovatore run -- will Hvorostovsky be well enough in three months to sing Di Luna? The Met might want to look at Juan Jesus Rodriguez who sang Di Luna very well in Naples this past February.

          • Donna Anna

            Stephen Powell was a superb di Luna in Cincinnati (the cast included Jamie Barton making her debut as Azucena, Russell Thomas as Manrico and Juliana Di Giacomo as Leonora.)

      • steveac10

        I feared that might be the case and that’s just insane from a planning perspective. Sell a season with a TBA in a major role just in case a singer, who when last treading the boards had major vocal issues, might be able to sing them. It’s not like she’s a box office draw that the public is demanding return to the house.

        It makes one wonder who they’re holding the Pedrillo open for.

        • parpignol


          • Krunoslav


            • Often admonished

              It would be a stretch for him.

        • la vociaccia

          For La Boheme there really isn’t much risk. People planningNYC visits who want to catch an opera will probably be happy to get a ticket for Boheme at the Met even if they aren’t sure who the Mimi is.

    • degan

      Angie has nothing to do after her performances of Tosca in November so she could jump in, especially if (again) Vargas is replaced by Fabiano….

      • tatiana

        They should move Ana Maria Martinez over to Mimi and leave the Musettas as TBA.

        • la vociaccia

          That’s what I would prefer, but I’ve already been whining about AMM being absent from the Met long enough so I suppose I should take what’s offered *shrugs.*

    • Buster

      i just read Barbara Frittoli will sing those Mimis.

  • Jungfer Marianne Leitmetzerin

    As far as I know, Keenlyside’s next scheduled performance is in “Ballo” at Wiener Staatsoper in January.

  • Gualtier M

    Here are some clips of Juan Jesus Rodriguez:
    Di Provenza al Mar:

    Pari Siamo (Rigoletto):


    Rodriguez is booked most of this Fall but someone to look into for the future.

  • Chenier631

    I applaud Keenlyside for his decision. At least he knows when to back out of a role that doesn’t suit his voice.
    I predict that the upcoming Met season will awash in cancellations. Will AG show up for her 2 Toscas?
    Will Nina Stemme attempt Turandot? I would be extremely surpised if she went anywhere near the role again after her disastrous attempt at the role at La Scala recently.
    Will Domingo do the Boccanegras?
    Who knows…..

  • I don’t think the TBA’s are being held for Poplavskaya. If they were then they’d be announced as such to sell tickets as Poplavskaya might not be a hot ticket but she’s a hotter ticket than “TBA.” I think they just haven’t finalized casting yet. The Keenlyside cancellation actually occurred well before yesterday’s announcement. They just didn’t announce anything until casting replacements were finalized.

    • messa di voce

      TBA is out; Fritolli is in.

      • manou

        In yet another substitution, Frittoli replaces Fritolli.

        • I’m waiting for Vargas to drop as well. He hasn’t sung anything, anywhere, in like over a year. He canceled everything last season.

      • Hippolyte

        It’s hard to think of anyone I’d rather hear less as Mimi at this point than Frittoli.

        • Gualtier M

          I mean Anna Maria Martinez is right there -- I really wonder who she pissed off at the Met? Her Micaela debut was quite fine. However there is a lot of repeats and tired blood in those “Boheme” performances. Yes Agresta is debuting as Mimi but you have Hymel and Vargas returning as Rodolfo -- Hymel is not a Puccini tenor and Vargas is past his freshest vocal estate if he sings at all. Hymel should be singing heroic French grand opera. Quinn Kelsey returns as Marcello when he should be Rigoletto (or Simon Boccanegra). You have a great Mimi, Anna Maria Martinez singing Musetta to another sing past their best, Barbara Frittoli as Mimi. Later in the run you have the return of Dan Ettinger, who has conductor hair but no conducting ability.

          • 98rsd

            GM…you are so right. The casting at the Met is so crappy that instead of my usual 15 or 20 performances, this year I ordered 5. The singers are around, but we’re offered the once-wonderful Frittoli and a host of other over-exposed people.

          • manou

            Ah -- Dan Ettinger. To plagiarize myself from another platform, Dan Ettinger is to conducting as Bocelli is to interior design.

          • oscar

            And another thing … Why is Haroutounian understudying TBA? i hear she was a wonderful Elisabetta in her one performance last year in Don Carlos.

  • phillyoperalover

    1) I called Kelsey dropping out since the very beginning when they said he was going to do it. He needs time to rest, recover, and start fresh again. I wish him the best.

    2) The whole TBA thing.
    Ana Maria should sing the Mimi’s! I love her Mimi, or have Perez some.

    3) I see that Hei Kyung Hong is now performing Butterfly. Was that always the case?

    4) I foresee The MET getting someone else to do Amelia to do Popys Suppose dates and not Harou.

    5) Is James Morris REALLY doing Scarpia?? Can he handle it?

    • steveac10

      Morris is only scheduled for Timur and Lodovico. I’ve noticed the artist pages on the new site are still a mess. He might be covering though -- some of the cover assignments are showing up on the artist page in the “who we are section”.

    • No, Hong is replacing Racette, who;s dropped Cio Cio San from her repertoire.

      • phillyoperalover

        Why did she drop Cio Cio San from her rep? She was very good in it. Going into heavier rep?

        • Just a wild guess: she can no longer sing it to please her own standards.

          • chicagoing

            There was an interesting sidebar to a longer article about Waltraud Meier singing her final Isoldes in last Sunday’s New York Times. The subject was artists giving up beloved roles and it would have been more topical had they included Ms. Racette. Instead it touched briefly on Susan Graham’s Octavian and included Adrainne Pieczonka stating that she did not so much give up Arabella as “I’m just not asked now.”

        • parpignol

          did you hear Racette’s top notes in Pagliacci?

    • LT

      Yeah, I wouldn’t be surprised if they got Dyka or some other walking mediocrity for Amelia.

  • Salome Where She Danced

    Tempus fugit. Hard as it is to believe, SK is 57 this year, and I used to think singers of that age should retire. That is, when I was 20 something . . .

    • Hippolyte

      And Hong will be nearly 57 when she undertakes her first Butterfly next year--surely a not irrelevant detail in the discussion about her suitability for the role?

      • steveac10

        Except Hong reads younger on stage than most sopranos in their 40’s. To say she is aging well is an understatement.

  • phillyoperalover

    Well here’s my thing, can Hong handle Butterfly? She has chosen her roles so carefully. I know she has done Dialogues the new prioress, but I think she hasn’t done anything slightly heavier. I may be wrong.

    • steveac10

      Butterfly has been done successfully by lighter voices since it premiered. Hong knows her way around a Puccini heroine, having sung countless Mimis and Lius. She has never been all that adventurous with her role choices and her only real misfire was Eva back at the end of the Volpe years.

      • phillyoperalover

        Thanks steveac10 :)

  • ML

    What is “temporarily removing the role of Rigoletto from his repertoire”?

    Some momentary invocation of a established legal loophole?

    • armerjacquino

      I think it means that he’s not going to sing Rigoletto for a while but might do later on. Occam’s Razor and all that.

      • ML

        I always thought “removing the role” got you out of contract commitments like an ejector seat. This Met press office statement is the first time I’ve seen the idea that you could use it and go back.

  • Well I’m sad that this seems to be curtains for Popsy’s career. I always did like her a lot. Very problematic voice, but interesting artist.

  • LT

    So this year there won’t be any broadcast at Lincoln center on opening night in order to save money. Only at Times Square

  • phillyoperalover

    SO the Mimi’s are filled in. Barbara Fartoli and Hei kyung Hong are filling in.