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  • Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo on 11 May

Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo on 11 May

Armenian soprano to replace Anja Harteros.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 May 2013 at 11.29am | 29 Comments

German soprano Anja Harteros has withdrawn from singing the role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo for the performance on 11 May due to acute tonsillitis.

The role of Elizabeth of Valois will now be sung by Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who made her debut with The Royal Opera in the role earlier this week. Lianna will also sing Elizabeth of Valois on 15, 18, 21 and 25 May.

Lianna’s recent appearances include Leonora in Il trovatore (Opéra de Marseille), Leonora in La forza del destino (Paris Opéra), Amelia in Un ballo in maschera (Stadttheater, Bern; and Grand Théâtre, Tours), Amelia in Simon Boccanegra and Mimì in La bohème (Grand Théâtre, Tours) and Violetta in La traviata (Festival de Sanxay). Her roles for the 2012-13 season include Elena (I vespri siciliani for the Athens Megaron and in Bilbao, and Cio-Cio-San (Madama Butterfly) for Festival de Sanxay.

By Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media)

10 May 2013 at 11.29am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged cast change

This article has 29 comments

  1. Mark Knowles responded on 10 May 2013 at 11:57am Reply


  2. John Morley responded on 10 May 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

    So at last the agony is over and the ROH confirms what we have known all week. Of course it is a disappointment. I have heard Ms Harteros on numerous occasions, mainly in Munich and Vienna, and she is a wonderful singer. However I am excited to hear Ms Haroutounian who is surrounded by a marvellous cast in a good production of a wonderful opera. I hope Ms Harteros recovers well; I am hoping to hear her in the Munich Trovatore and the Salzburg Don Carlo your bets .... And, of course, the excitement is not yet over; more than one serial canceller is still scheduled before the end of the season. I have survived cancellations by Netrebko, Villazon, Gheorghiu in the recent past; Harteros joins a not particularly exclusive club.

    • Pierre FRANCO responded on 13 May 2013 at 8:27pm

      Hello John, we are going to the ROH for our first time, as we are french and living in the center of France .... of course, maybe a little disapointing fact, but we are so much excinting to come to such an opera monument .... that we will be very patient ..... Hope our first visit will follow numbers ones .... Cheers

  3. John responded on 10 May 2013 at 12:51pm Reply

    No apology? No statement of regret? I suppose that's too much to expect from someone who has cancelled 2/3rds of her performances at Covent Garden since 2008. Everybody gets ill and no one can predict it, but there comes a point when someone has burnt all their bridges, no matter what the reason. What kind of professional representation does she employ that don't have the sense to apologise on her behalf?

  4. Leonore responded on 10 May 2013 at 1:08pm Reply

    As long as Kaufmann has not picked up her tonsillitis, it's still going to be a great night.

  5. It's ridiculous and pitiful. I don't understand why somebody continues to praise this woman, at least she is not a genius , simply an impostor. Maybe she thinks that to be a great artist this is the right behaviour to built a 'legend' ? I am disgusted .

  6. Darren Jones responded on 10 May 2013 at 2:14pm Reply

    Maybe Frau Harteros should give careful consideration to whether or not she has the stamina or physical fitness to perform at this level. In any job you want to employ people who can consistently perform and be at the top of their game. Giving the occasional stunning performance is not enough.

  7. Ruth responded on 10 May 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

    I've been thinking about this and something has just occurred to me. Unless I'm forgetting something, Anja Harteros's cancellation record has only been like this for the past two seasons - since her husband became unwell. It's a coincidence that this change in her circumstances happened at a time when she had four whole Covent Garden runs scheduled in the space of two seasons - the ROH had only used her once before, at short notice, and I believe she turned up every time (in the 2008 Boccanegra). It's everybody's rotten luck that the ROH should take a chance on scheduling one star in quite so many performances of so many roles at precisely the time when that person's circumstances take a turn for the worse and she finds herself forced to become hopelessly unreliable.

    She's been scheduled for 26 performances at the ROH in two seasons, by my reckoning (of Suor Angelica, Boheme, Otello, Don Carlo). I can't think of any other guest principal who's had that much work at ROH lined up in such a short period of time. Had she not had so much, we'd all have paid far less attention when she had to cancel it all. It's pretty common for a singer to cancel a whole run of something. Most never have the opportunity for cancelling nearly three out of four.

    Clearly opera houses book singers further than two years ahead of time. I don't believe there was any indication this time two years ago that booking Anja Harteros for four operas was anything other than a coup re securing a major artist.

    I would like to hope that the ROH will be circumspect in future about engaging her while her circumstances are as they are, but I don't believe there's any way they or she could have foreseen the current situation.

    I'm delighted that Haroutounian had such a successful debut this week, and booked specifically to hear her next weekend.

    • Chris Rhobert responded on 10 May 2013 at 5:09pm

      What a pity to become ill after having such success in the opening. I agree with your opinion. I think she became ill for Angelica, but in Boheme she would have done the performances with a shorter rehearsal period due to the circumstances, but the conducter insisted on an unusual long period. I saw her great Desdemona last season and now I was lucky to see Carlos. And not to forget her Amelia! I respect her responsible way for not singing with acute tonsillitis. Hope she will recover soon.

    • Koji Moriya responded on 10 May 2013 at 8:53pm

      Hello Ruth,

      Thank you for sharing your record of Ms Harteros's schedule at ROH. This reminds me of another German soprano who seemed to be a big name at ROH.

      Without knowing who she was, I attended an evening of Daphne which title role was sung by Ms Alexandra von der Welt. I was really moved by her singing and I was really looking forward to hearing her in Lucia, Mitridate and Don Giovanni at ROH. However, she cancelled all of her schedules.

      Unlike now, at that time, I didn't have any way to know the reasons why she suddenly disappeared from ROH. Some years after that, I heard that she had been sick and had had to give up singing for a long time.

      I have no intention to change the topic here and it doesn't seem that Ms Harteros is professional although i was really impressed by her performance on 4th.

      However, none of the singers can see what will happen to them when they agree to sing at ROH. What I would like ROH to do is to nurture some young singers instead of relying on the big names.

  8. Ruth responded on 10 May 2013 at 4:02pm Reply

    (It's also occurred to me that I've managed to be at every one of Harteros's ROH performances in the last two seasons (5 out of a scheduled 26). Even if that was mostly due to snapping up extra Otello tickets on a daily basis simply because she appeared to be going to last the course - which she almost did).

  9. John responded on 10 May 2013 at 5:04pm Reply

    I agree with much of what you say, Ruth - shame the opera house didn't put it so clearly. That said, it was pretty obvious after last season that she wouldn't be reliable for Don Carlo, yet the ROH went ahead and sold tickets on the back of her appearing - and look what happened. What still baffles me is that Harteros herself hasn't made an acknowledgement of her in creasing unreliability - who's going to book tickets for her now?

    • Chris Rhobert responded on 10 May 2013 at 7:27pm

      isn´t it more reliable to keep private things private? I think it could not be obvious after last season, nobody can look into the future.

  10. John B responded on 10 May 2013 at 6:48pm Reply

    Good news. I have a robin in the park that sings reliably well every day. Never cancels.

  11. Clive responded on 10 May 2013 at 7:00pm Reply

    In view of her history, am astonished that so many of you seem ready to accept Hatreros's "tonsilitis" excuse at face value. If I had an employee whu failed to attend work as often as she does, I would start taking their excuses with a pinch of salt.
    This is the second time in a year she has done this when i've bought tickets. I hope the ROH never book her again.

    • Chris Rhobert responded on 11 May 2013 at 5:53am

      the case that you don´t believe it does not mean that it is not true.

  12. To be fair the ROH didn't have much choice in going ahead and selling tickets - presumably they had a signed contract with the artist and until such time as they cancelled or renogotiated all they could do was plough ahead. Lessons to be learned on all sides I think.

    At least this wasn't a one-star show - even without Harteros the line-up is pretty impressive.

  13. Peter Erdos responded on 11 May 2013 at 10:25am Reply

    Interesting to read Ruth's long explanation in defence of Harteros. As a matter of interest I looked up AH's website and she has a great number of performances (Trovatore, Don Carlos and Forza) lined up in the the next few months in Salzburg, and Munich. It will be interesting to know how many of these performances will take place and how many are cancelled!.
    I was lucky enough to hear her on the 4th in superb voice and understand the great furore of the public on the "sudden" cancellations.
    I had similar experiences with Netrebko who cancelled a number of performances I had tickets for after singing on the first nights superbly (Traviata, Don Giovanni), so this is not a unique event.

    • Paul responded on 12 May 2013 at 10:26am

      Harteros is about 1/10th of Netrebko on the days she does show up so let's not get carried away here.

  14. John M responded on 12 May 2013 at 11:46am Reply

    I attended on the 11 May and thought it was a top night at Covent Garden. Ms Haroutounian was very good and deserved the warm reception and applause. A good replacement for Harteros? - certainly. As good as Harteros? - that is a different argument. I hope she is rewarded with other roles here. I thought Kaufmann was sensational as Carlo - such singing and detailed acting. He is certainly the best Carlo of my experience,, surpassing even his own previous performances of the role. A wonderful evening at Covent Garden, with and without Harteros.

  15. Chris Field responded on 12 May 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

    I was at last night's preformance of Don Carlo and it was superb! Jonas Kaufmann was the consummate artist as we have come to expect. I booked to see him in 2009 and was very disappointed when he was indisposed on the evening of the performance but I still managed to enjoy the experience. I have not heard Anja Harteros sing but am fully aware of her record of cancellations and therefore I have no wish to enter the current debate concerning her withdrawal after what was apparently an excellent first night. LIanna was quite outstanding in her role of Elisabeth de Valois and I am sure that she has a great international career ahead of her in all the major world opera houses.
    I would like to mention Mariuz Kwiecien singing the part of Rodrigo. I first heard him in the Glyndbourne production of Don Pasquale singing Dr Malatesta and was bowled over by his wonderful baritone and his brilliant characterisation of the part. He can certailnly pull out the stops when it comes to comedy. I then heard him at The Met in 2011 as Don Giovanni just after recovering from an unfortunate accident (he must have been in some pain) which had prevented him from singing on the opening night of the new production. Another fantastic experience. His performance last night as Rodrigo brought out the longest ovation at the curtain call and it was very well deserved. I cannot wait to see him in next season's new production of Don Giovanni here at the ROH. Make sure that you book your seats early. It is sure to be a sell-out!

  16. Dr Walsh responded on 12 May 2013 at 4:49pm Reply

    Forget Harteros - last night was magnificent.

  17. Stephen Diviani responded on 13 May 2013 at 9:04am Reply

    Well, Ms Haroutounian has a beautiful voice (and it was a fine evening of opera) but I do hope that despite all the controversy around Ms Harteros' cancellation record the ROH will continue to book this great singer for future engagements. It is a risk worth taking!

  18. Phillip Arnold responded on 14 May 2013 at 9:10am Reply

    Really - she cancelled 21 out of 26 appearances over 2 seasons???? Sounds more like a serious case of stage fright. And everyone mentions Harteros's singing, but not her acting - if it's anything like Gheorghiu's, I'm glad I never got to see her.

    • Stephen Diviani responded on 16 May 2013 at 12:02pm

      It's not a record of which to be proud I agree but she is up there with the greats. And she is also a great actor which is another reason her performances are special and remain with you.

  19. Jeffrey Karacs responded on 15 May 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

    After all that's been written, and a lot will be written Ms Harteros gave one of the best performances I had the pleasure of hearing. I already had the information that she had a lot of cancellations in front of her and her history with Covent Garden was checkered. All I can add Is that I hope she does return one day because it was a very special night on the 4th of May and sorry everyone else missed her.

  20. Saw an excellent performance of Don Carlo last night - first time we've heard Lianna Haroutounian and we loved her! Hope to see lots more of her. Really strong cast overall including the replacement for Eboli, Beatrice Uria-Monzon. Great evening!

  21. Heather Willson responded on 20 May 2013 at 9:32am Reply

    I agree- Don Carlo performance on 18th was fantastic.
    Lianna was wonderful and I hope this is a boost to her career and that she returns to ROH
    I was surprised by the diatribe against Anya Harteros and wish her well

  22. Michael responded on 23 May 2013 at 1:59am Reply

    Attended Don Carlo on may 15. Probably one of the finest night of singning I have heard at the ROH in the last few months. Of course Kauffman was absolutely superb. After Grigolo and Monastyrska another star was born with Haroutounian who gave us a wonderful Elysabeth. But for me the evening belonged to Kwiencien who sang one of the most beautiful and moving Posa I have heard. I have had the pleasure to hear Kwiencien at the Met In Elisir d'Amore and in Lucia and both times I was completely floored by the quality of his voice and convincing interpretation.Looking forward to see a lot more of him in the near future at the ROH.

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