Cher Public

Singin’ in the reine

reine“French mezzo-soprano Sophie Koch has withdrawn from [Lyric Opera of Chicago’s] premiere of Berlioz’s Les Troyens for personal reasons. Stepping into the role of Dido will be American mezzo-soprano Susan Graham, world-renowned as an interpreter of French repertoire, in general, with a special emphasis on the music of Berlioz.”

  • It seems that whenever I’m planning on seeing a Troyens, the Didon changes. But fortunately, I’ve been lucky with substitutions.

    I saw LHL in place of Borodina at the Met back in the early aughts. And though I love Borodina, I was glad for that singular opportunity to experience LHL’s art.

    I was rather looking forward to seeing and hearing Koch (and I wish her well). Graham’s Didon is a known quantity based on the Met HD but I’m not sorry with the replacement choice (though I would’ve still preferred to hear Koch in person for the first time).

    • PCally

      Graham seems to have something of a monopoly on the role as of late. I almost forget that Westbroek is the one who actually premiered the mcvicar production. She hasn’t sung it since, Garanca’s plans to sing it never took place, and now Koch has also cancelled the role.

      Lhl was unreal the night I went.

      • fletcher

        The only other current Didon I can think of is Elena Zhidkova -- I didn’t think she was very impressive in the webcast of Troyens from Berlin last year. Lots of blood though.

        • Ekaterina Semenchuk was absolutely extraordinary with Mariinsky/Gergiev back in October 2013. Also no cuts! All four glorious hours!

  • aulus agerius

    Too bad. I was looking forward to hearing her for the first time. I have a ticket 10/21. Have to say Jovanovich is the one I’m really interested in. He has to better than Hymel who was a noshow anyway for the SF performance I would’ve attended had I opted to go.

  • actfive

    I was singularly unimpressed with Koch in last season’s Rosenkavalier, so I think Graham is a much better choice.

  • Krunoslav

    I just don’t get Koch’s antiseptic timbre, so this is to me a step up.

    Michelle de Young has also sung Didon but not in a while.

    I think Clémentine Margaine, who will be at LOC in DON QUICHOTTE with Furlanetto in the same period, did it in concert in Geneva opposite the dulcet tones of Ian Storey.

  • I think Chicago has definitely lucked out to get Graham. She was in superb voice in Boston for the recent concert (Boston Symphony) Rosenkavalier and her Didon in the Chatelet DVD is very impressive. She does many things well but for me she has always made the greatest effect as a French mezzo.

  • berkeleygirl


  • empie arazza

    Graham herself canceled it at the Met the night I went (replaced by an able Elizabeth Bishop). Did Borodina ever sing it elsewhere? I thought she outsang Graham in Damnation of Faust at the Met (and Vargas and Abdrazakov were definite improvements over their predecessors).

  • chicagoing

    Interesting development given that this was to be a role debut for Ms. Koch in a rather high profile production. I am not disappointed however. Having made her American debut here as Charlotte and then returning recently as Octavian I found her lack of charisma on stage to be a significant minus. Although I told myself it was a plus to have a French speaker in this role the truth is I was not especially looking forward to spending a lot of time with her at this Troyens. Susan Graham has only appeared here in one staged role in the ten years I have been atttending opera at LOC and it was my general impression that she was downshifting her appearances, so I am very content and hope that she brings it.

    • Krunoslav

      Graham did very well in San Fran in June: the only scene that gave her problems (dynamics, not pitch) was the confrontation with Enee by the ships, just too heavy ( as it was for LHL).

  • Armerjacquino

    In among the general rejoicing over Ms Graham’s appearance, and the opinions on Ms Koch, let’s remember that ‘personal reasons’ (as opposed to ‘illness’ ‘not the right role at this time’ etc) usually means something horrible is happening.

    • DonCarloFanatic

      I hope not.

    • quoth the maven

      “personal reasons” might mean “we fired her.”

  • chicagoing

    Final dress for Les Troyen’s at LOC one week from tonight with the opening to follow on the 19th. It seems like just yesterday that Susan Graham jumped on board. A recent mailing suggests that there are discounted seats available for three of the performances which is a disappointment. There are only five scheduled. I spoke to one subscriber who was balking due to the length but I take the view that I am getting more opera for my dollar, in fact I regret not upgrading to a better seat given the amount of time I will be spending in it. I will be in attendance on the 26th.