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Friday, March 3, 2017

The Unreliable Aristocrat

Jonas Kaufmann ditches Tosca at the Met.
by Paul J. Pelkonen
He's moving on: Jonas Kaufmann, shown here in the Met staging of Parsifal
in 2012, will not be appearing in Tosca later this year.

It's all just a little bit of history repeating: Jonas Kaufmann will not be singing at the Met this year. The news dropped today from Michael Cooper at the New York Times.

In an interview in the Times, Met general manager Peter Gelb said that the star tenor was "rethinking his schedule because of his personal life and professional obligations" and would therefore not be available to rehearse and perform in the company's eagerly anticipated new Tosca opening December 31.

Mr. Kaufmann will be replaced by Vittorio Grigolo, who has drawn positive reviews this year for his portrayal of Romeo and Werther in operas by Gounod and Massenet. The change comes just two weeks after the Met announced its 2017-18 season.

The Met's new Tosca will be staged by Sir David McVicar, and is mounted along the lines of the company's classic Franco Zeffirelli production from the 1980s. It replaces the company's previous staging by Luc Bondy. The 2009 premiere of the Bondy Tosca was one of the shakiest of the Peter Gelb era. Ironically, it was Mr. Kaufmann who made his reputation in New York when he sang Cavaradossi in the aforementioned Bondy production in April of 2010.

This cancellation marks the fourth year that Mr. Kaufmann has recused himself from appearing at the Metropolitan Opera, where he last sang (in the company's new Werther) in 2014. He pulled out of a 2015 revival of Carmen and a 2016 staging of Manon Lescaut which had been designed specifically for his talents. He was not scheduled for the 2016-17 season.

The new McVicar Tosca will use monumental settings of actual Rome locations to create the grandeur of that city. Kristin Opolais is scheduled to sing the first run of performances, with her husband, Andris Nelsons in the orchestra pit and Bryn Terfel returning to the role of Scarpia. Later performances will feature Anna Netrebko singing her first portrayals of the Puccini heroine in New York. 

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