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Friday, April 6, 2012

Natalie Dessay Out of Traviata Premiere

Hei-Kyung Hong gets the nod as Violetta.
by Paul Pelkonen
A trip to IKEA, on gossamer wings: Act I of La Traviata at the Met.
Photo by Marty Sohl © 2012 The Metropolitan Opera.
The saga of the Little Red Dress continues. 

Last night the Metropolitan Opera press office quietly announced that tonight's performance of La Traviata will be sung by soprano Hei-Kyung Hong. Ms. Hong will replace Natalie Dessay, who is ill.

It is not known at press time whether Ms. Dessay will be available to sing the remaining seven performances in the run, starting with next Tuesday night and leading up to the Met Live in HD broadcast on April 14. 

Willy Decker's production of La Traviata, which bowed at the Met on December 31, 2010, is more physical than most productions of this Verdi opera. Violetta is required to careen across a slanted, curved acting surface, to be hoisted on a red couch by the choristers, and to meet the physical challenges of the characters medical condition (she is dying of tubeculosis) head-on. 

The production, which was originally mounted at Salzburg with Anna Netrebko (currently singing Manon at the Met) premiered with Marina Poplavskaya making a splash in the title role. Ms. Hong was the "cover" for those performances, and also sang the dress rehearsal earlier this week when Ms. Dessay announced that she was ill.

Regulars at the Metropolitan Opera are familiar with this talented Korean soprano, who has been something of a fixture at the house over a long career. She has sung over 300 performances at the theater, starting in 1984. Her wide repertory includes Butterfly, Gilda, the Countess (in the Marriage of Figaro), Liu, and of course, Violetta.

Last season, Ms. Hong was thrust into the limelight as Juliette in Gounod's Roméo et Juliette  after soprano Angela Gheorghiu abruptly cancelled her entire run, claiming illness. 

This year's cast also features Matthew Polenzani as Alfredo Germont, and baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky as Giorgio Germont.
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Critical Thinking in the Cheap Seats

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Since 2007, Superconductor has grown from an occasional concert or CD review to a near-daily publication covering classical music, opera and the arts in and around NYC, with excursions to Boston, Philadelphia, and upstate NY. I am a freelance writer living and working in Brooklyn NY. And no, I'm not a conductor.