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Cast change: Franco Vassallo to sing in La traviata on 28 May and 3 June 2015

Italian baritone Franco Vassallo to replace Plácido Domingo in the role of Giorgio Germont.

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

26 May 2015 at 12.23pm | 37 Comments

Update: Cast change also in effect for 3 June 2015 in addition to earlier change for 28 May 2015 [amended 1 June 2015]

Due to serious family and personal reasons, Plácido Domingo has withdrawn from singing the role of Giorgio Germont in La traviata on 28 May and 3 June. The role will now be sung by Italian baritone Franco Vassallo.

Franco Vassallo has previously sung the role of Giorgio Germont for Bavarian State Opera, Hamburg State Opera, Opera di Verona, Berlin State Opera and Vienna State Opera. He made his Royal Opera debut in 2008 as Marcello in La bohème. His other recent appearances include Rigoletto in Geneva and Munich, Count di Luna in Il trovatore and Macbeth for La Scala, Milan, and Guido di Monforte in I vespri siciliani for Teatro Real, Madrid.

The rest of the cast for this performance remains unchanged.

If you have a ticket please see terms and conditions of sale.

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

26 May 2015 at 12.23pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged

This article has 37 comments

  1. Cathy responded on 28 May 2015 at 9:30am Reply

    I logged on to see the running time for tonight and only then discovered that not only were we not getting the soprano we booked to hear, but Domingo had also backed out.
    My question is how there are now 100+ tickets available on this previously sold out performance since the terms and conditions - helpfully posted in this news article - say no refunds in the event of a cast change.
    Are these people all prepared to throw the tickets away, or are some people in fact given refunds? And if so, why am I paying many hundreds of pounds for 4 tickets to sit in a half- empty house to hear singers I didn't book for? Will the ROH take responsibility for allowing so many to return their tickets that it will affect the atmosphere for the rest of us?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 28 May 2015 at 11:57am

      Hi Cathy,

      Thanks for your comments. A member of our Box Office team has emailed you.


      ROH Content Producer

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 May 2015 at 1:46pm

      Dear Cathy, George and Stephen

      Thank you for your comments. It is understandable that you are disappointed that Plácido Domingo has had to withdraw from the performance but tonight's La traviata will still be of the highest standard. Do have a look at the responses to the run so far, in particular Marina Rebeka's performance as Violetta:

      We do not offer refunds, but we do allow exchange of tickets up to three days prior to a performance. Due to the cancellation coming through just after this deadline we have extended this facility and emailed those attending to allow them to exchange their ticket. Many have done so, as you can see from the number of tickets that are now available for tonight, but the auditorium will still be very busy.

      Although you may be disappointed not to see Domingo, Franco Vassallo is a very experienced Giorgio Germont who is singing the role later in the run. I hope you enjoy the performance.

      Best wishes


  2. George responded on 28 May 2015 at 12:09pm Reply

    I could not agree more with the comments made by Cathy!
    A show that was sold out immediately and was sold out for months, it has not 100+ seats available all around the house.
    Was ROH withholding tickets?

  3. STEPHEN WORSWICK responded on 28 May 2015 at 12:10pm Reply


  4. John Ludlow responded on 28 May 2015 at 12:17pm Reply

    I don't see how ensuring Cathy has a positive experience is a responsibility of any other paying patron. I don't know the names of other audience members who buy tickets to the same performance as me and frankly, I don't care either way as long as they sit quietly and stay in their space. Implying that ROH owes anyone "an atmosphere" by selling a certain amount of tickets is preposterous.

  5. Heidi responded on 28 May 2015 at 2:05pm Reply

    I dont mind how many other people are in the audience.

    I do mind that ROH has sold me one thing (La Traviata with Domingo and Yoncheva) and now want me to accept something else without offering a refund.

    I didn't buy Vassalo and Rebeka. I bought Domingo and Yoncheva.

    The fact that so many tickets have been offered for resale suggests that I am not the only one who bought a ticket on this basis.

    (If I bought and paid for a book on amazon and it were sold out by the time the order was processed, ebay wouldnt send me a different book, refuse to give me a refund and say, effectively, "this is what we have in stock". In all other circumstances, a refusal to give a refund would be known as 'breach of contract', whatever the terms say. Domingo is not "substitutable".)

    Both singers have withdrawn for "personal" reasons and of course their fans are sympathetic. But surely it is not unreasonable to ask why Domingo has withdrawn at such short notice? When I miss work, that's what I have to do. If they allow me to miss work at all.

    I would *not* have spent so much on a seat in the orchestra stalls in the knowledge that there were 100+ significantly less expensive tickets for tonight's cast for every performance a few weeks later.

    Finally, it is absolutely misleading in the press release to state "The rest of the cast remains unchanged". Violetta was changed last week.

    ROH, I would like a refund because you are not selling me what I have paid for.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 May 2015 at 2:53pm

      Dear Heidi

      Thank you for your comment. There is quite a difference between something fixed - like a book - and a live performance that is subject to so many different variables. While we of course sympathise with disappointment over cast changes we are unable to offer refunds unless a performance is cancelled - you will find the same is true of the Met in New York or the National Theatre in London.

      Placido Domingo has had to withdraw for serious personal reasons - you can see a message from him on his Facebook page.

      Again, we understand how important it is for audience members to see individual performers but I would stress the quality of the overall experience. The performance of La traviata will be world-class, and we very much hope that you will still enjoy it.

      Best wishes


    • Mona responded on 1 June 2015 at 4:04pm

      Hi Heidi
      While I understand all of your disappointment . Please please understand how our beloved Placido must feel. He never backs out of a performance..

      His sister is very ill and he must be at her side with his family. This is a hard time of him.. because of his sister and I believe also because he cannot be there to perform for you... He would be there for sure and everyone knows this.

      He would be very proud to know that you are all supporting the stand in for him and going to see this wonderful Opera.

  6. STEPHEN WORSWICK responded on 28 May 2015 at 2:32pm Reply

    Regarding tonight's performance of La Traviata, I have just been informed that I can exchange the tickets for another performance - fine, but why not one of the performances in next seasons' run ??

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 May 2015 at 2:54pm

      Dear Stephen

      Next Season's run is not yet for sale, and we only ever offer exchanges within the current Season.

      Sorry if that is disappointing.

      Best wishes


  7. Jeremy Fielding responded on 28 May 2015 at 3:00pm Reply

    When I brought my ticket in person back to the Box Office on Tuesday I wasn't offered an exchange or credit, only the possibility of a resale. You used to offer credits less a small admin charge - has this policy changed?

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 May 2015 at 4:47pm

      Dear Jeremy

      It may be that you arrived at box office before all of the staff had been briefed about the waiving of the usual rule about three days notice. If you would like to telephone the box office they should be able to discuss the possibility of exchange with you.

      Credit notes are no longer available and were phased out about five years ago.

      Best wishes


  8. Heidi responded on 28 May 2015 at 3:36pm Reply

    Dear Emma

    If I paid to see the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger was replaced by Paul McCartney, would I be entitled to a refund? I think so. Or at least I would be offered the opportunity to see Mick Jagger with the Rolling Stones at a later date, or the offer of a full refund. Just because it is Covent Garden and not Wembley Stadium doesn't mean that @ROH's terms are not subject to the scrutiny of any "reasonable" test.

    I would still like a refund, or at the least a voucher to spend on something in the future that I *want* to see at that price, rather than giving me a choice of "this season's" run.


    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 28 May 2015 at 4:44pm

      Dear Heidi

      We perform La traviata with different casts on different nights, but it is still the same orchestra, chorus and production - it is still The Royal Opera's La traviata.

      If you join us tonight you will see a wonderful performance of Verdi's traviata presented by The Royal Opera and I hope that your disappointment in missing Plácido Domingo will be assuaged by the full experience.

      Very best wishes


    • Jeremy Fielding responded on 28 May 2015 at 5:38pm

      Heidi is absolutely right - isn't that exactly the point? This production of Traviata has had far too many performances scheduled yet again this season with unremarkable casts in the main, which is why so many tickets are available for the rest of the run and it's not even close to selling out. When we booked, we did so because of the artists performing, because many of us have already seen numerous performances of this production; as you have now changed two of the principal artists, the product you are offering is very different to that which was advertised. We all appreciate that artists cancel, but the inflexibility of your ticket policy is what needs to be looked at to improve customer service perhaps. There is so little left of the current season (and I've already bought tickets for the performances that I want to see) that offering an exchange is not really a valid offer for most of us, particularly if we don't live in London and have to plan our trips well in advance.
      Could you tell us why the credit note system was phased out?

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 3 June 2015 at 11:10am

      Hi Jeremy,

      The credit note system was phased out 5 years ago as it was extremely complex to administer. I've passed your comment on to the Box Office team about exchanging towards the end of a Season.


      ROH Content Producer

  9. Patricia Holroyd responded on 29 May 2015 at 9:09pm Reply

    Lovely performance of Traviata last night - I pity the very few people who didn't turn up, but their absence didn't spoil the acoustic- the only empty seats were in the downstairs area, anyway - the amphitheatre and slips were full, as alway.

    Although last night didn't prevent me thinking that that Mirella Freni in Visconti's ( much better ) production was the best Violetta ever at ROH, this was still a very good evening!!

  10. Victor Ellams responded on 31 May 2015 at 12:42pm Reply

    Just wondered if there was any news concerning next Wednesdays performance and if Placido is likely to be singing? Many thanks

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 1 June 2015 at 2:52pm

      Dear Victor

      Unfortunately, Plácido Domingo has had to withdraw from the performance on 3 June.

      Best wishes


  11. I wonder how many people who claim to be disappointed at Domingo's absence are really just disappointed at not seeing him rather than not hearing him. I mean no disrespect to him but really, Domingo singing baritone roles is eminently missable.

  12. Lorraine responded on 1 June 2015 at 3:52pm Reply

    I realize that many people are upset and disappointed that Domingo had to withdraw. The 'personal reason' is explained on his facebook page. His sister is critically ill in a Boston hospital and is still in unstable condition in the Intensive Care Unit. I'm sure most people can understand why he chose to remain with her.

  13. Barbara Dovey responded on 1 June 2015 at 3:54pm Reply

    Like others commenting on here I too bought my tickets (stalls circle) for Wednesday based on the fact that Maestro Domingo was due to sing. The very fact that a man, who is renowned for not cancelling, has had to cancel, ( both here and at at least one other house) speaks volumes about the seriousness of the reason. His sister is seriously ill in USA & he & all the family are with her. The cost of the visit to London is doubled at least for me as I have to add on train fares/ hotel etc, but I will still be there on Wednesday & I know I and my Husband will have a lovely evening. We are looking forward to it!

  14. Mona responded on 1 June 2015 at 3:57pm Reply

    While I understand all of your disappointment . Please please understand how our beloved Placido must feel. He never backs out of a performance..

    His sister is very ill and he must be at her side with his family. This is a hard time of him.. because of his sister and I believe also because he cannot be there to perform for you... He would be there for sure and everyone knows this.

    He would be very proud to know that you are all supporting the stand in for him and going to see this wonderful Opera.

  15. Stefanie responded on 1 June 2015 at 5:17pm Reply

    Like many others commenting here I had my Traviata-ticket (28th of may, orchestra stalls) bought to see Plácido Domingo. I understand the disappointment in some comments. But you all know that Maestro Domingo is well known for not cancelling, so if he had to cancel, there are very serious reasons. His only sister is very ill and in Intensive Care Unit - I understand very well that he wants and has to stay at her side. (When some years ago one of my family members was in ICU, the world could have tumbled down, I wouldn't have even noticed, I was at his side). So please show some understanding and respect for his decision. I decided to support him, who does so much for the whole world of opera, in the only way that was possible for me : I went to London and saw the performance. Of course I missed his voice and his acting - but it was the right decision. I saw a beautiful !!! staging and a lovely Traviata. So go, enjoy the beautiful opera and think of Maestro Domingo, who needs all our support right now.

  16. Carol Smith responded on 1 June 2015 at 5:23pm Reply

    I understand how devastated people must feel when they have eagerly waited for this performance only to find different singers but imagine how devastated Placido Domingo must feel when his sister is seriously ill in hospital and he also feels the responsibility of letting down fans. His Facebook page keeps fans updated regularly. We have to remember that even Opera singers are human beings first and foremost. Best wishes to him and all his family.

  17. I'm forever grateful to Maestro Domingo and the Royal Opera for having given us so much joy through so many performances for so many years. I myself have travelld to London to see Maestro in the two performances of Traviata but I fully understand and suppprt his decison to withdraw which must be extremely difficult for him, knowing how much he always wants to give his best to his fans. My prayers go to Maestro, his sister and his entire family. I also look forward to his returning to the Royal Opera next month to conduct Boheme and lead the Operalia, as well as Nabucco next season. Maestro, we love you forever. Thank you ROH.

  18. Peter responded on 1 June 2015 at 7:13pm Reply

    Obviously this is the right decision for Placido to take, family must come first. It is always a known risk that a star name may withdraw but the the production goes on. So be it. My only gripe is the premium prices the big names attract and normally the Royal Opera does not refund the difference when there is a 'so called' downgrade. Other than that, it's the luck of the dice. I'll be there on Wednesday no matter what.

  19. victoria vargas responded on 2 June 2015 at 3:17am Reply

    Franco Vasallo is a wonderful baritone so do not feel disappointed because is going to replace Domingo... Vasallo has a beautiful & tender voice and nice presence!!!!

  20. Fedora responded on 2 June 2015 at 9:45am Reply

    Hello everyone,
    I feel like some never came to operas?
    I've been a opera goer since 25 years now. I know many operas and many opera houses.
    First of all, have you read precisely the sales' condition before purchasing? Cast changes, tickets' exchange, etc...all is written.
    The opera is a "living" art. The singers in good condition, bad condition, cancelling...all are human things. And that's why the opera is fascinating.
    Even if Mr. Domingo sings, he can be wonderful one day, but another time can be not...all is "living" thing.
    Of course I am disappointed, too, on May 28th, but I came with my friend from abroad, as we couldn't cancel air/hotel.
    But finally the evening was just amazing. Why? Because it's Royal Opera House.
    In the beginning our seats were separated, as you know, the booking was very difficult when Mr. Domingo was scheduled.
    Once we arrive at ROH, we asked to put us together as we knew that there were many return tickets. The box office kindly accepted to arrange this, and not only we could have 2 seats together better than our original seating, with the price difference, we could even get Champagne vouchers.
    Do you know that there is no Opera House in the world who do that?
    Box Office people are very helpful and polite. They listen to you and respond to you. Once I was almost late for the rehearsal (I was Friend) , the lady was waiting for me to guide me to my seat as soon as possible! Amazing!
    Do you know Vienna, New York, and Paris? Cast change? Seats' or tickets' changing? Forget about it. They are not even polite always...
    Milano and Naples don't even respond you.
    ROH is wonderful for me. Please don't accuse this wonderful human opera house. And please know that the opera is a "living human" art. And there is often a wonderful surprise, as on May 28th, the evening was amazing. But actually it is not a surprise for ROH, as it is just a great opera house who can replace singers in high standard not to disappoint the audience.
    Always a great pleasure to come back to ROH. Many thanks!

  21. Barbara Dovey responded on 4 June 2015 at 1:28pm Reply

    Following on to my comments above, we are now back home after a wonderful two days in London. The performance yesterday evening was simply fantastic. Yes, Maestro Domingo was very much missed, but everyone who took part was superb. Thank you, all of you @ ROH, you are the best!

  22. Patience Humphries responded on 4 June 2015 at 3:34pm Reply

    We so enjoyed La Traviata last night in spite of missing the first act, our fault! Franco Vassallo was a superb Germont and received well -deserved tumultuous applause. Naturally it was disappointing not to see Placido Domingo but no one is irreplaceable, not even Domingo. Yoncheva was a dream Well done ROH.

  23. Margaret Walker responded on 4 June 2015 at 11:22pm Reply

    I was desperately disappointed when I arrived at ROH on Wednesday to learn that Placido Domingo could not sing- could not I stress not would not. I am certain that had it been possible he would have been there. Within the first minutes of the production opening my negative thoughts had begun to die down and by the end of the first act the superb singing of Yoncheva had won me and the rest of the audience over. Yes it would have been wonderful to have heard Domingo but no one could rate Vassallo as anything but a first class singer who won over an audience possibly disposed against him. I live out In the 'sticks' and getting to London is a difficult and expensive business. I wonder how many of the negative comments come from people who are fortunate enough to be able to visit ROH on a regular basis without really realising how lucky they are. I just know that last nights performance will stay in my memory for a very long time

  24. Chantal CHAIGNEAU responded on 5 June 2015 at 12:35am Reply

    First of all I would like to say that I am not English but French. I understand that most of the people who had bought tickets for La traviata by Verdi in which they looked forward to Maestro Domingo's performance must have been deeply disappointed at Placido's withdrawal. But do these people know the reason why Domingo felt he had to cancel his performances ? I am not quite sure. Can they understand that our beloved Placido is going
    through one of the most difficult moments in his whole life ? Indeed , as Carol Smith put it , I am
    convinced that he must have been extremely grieved at making such a hard decision , he who hates
    cancelling performances , especially at Covent Garden , he who has always shown so much respect for his fans ?
    I do believe that he is feeling awfully sorry for all his fans whom he had to let down. Yet we should keep in mind that our dear Placido is but a human being and that he considers his duty to stay by his sister 's side in Boston as long as her health state does not improve. We , his fans , should respect his decision
    even if it arouses some disappointment at his withdrawals from performances for a while.
    Let us send our loving thoughts to him who gives us so much through his wonderful singing and acting instead of moaning over his absence on stage.
    This is my comment.

    for his fans?
    I do believe that he is feeling awfully sorry for his fans who he has to

  25. David Boylan responded on 5 June 2015 at 11:03pm Reply

    Disappointed not to have seen Placido on Wednsday however every performance at the ROH is a wonderful experience and La Traviata was thoroughly enjoyed by my friends and I.

  26. Alan Gallagher responded on 6 June 2015 at 10:21pm Reply

    I think that Margaret Walker has hit the nail on the head. My visits to the ROH involve a long journey from Tyneside and an overnight stay in London. Nor am I a fan of Domingo singing baritone roles, which is why I ruled out his two appearances when booking. In the event I consider myself very lucky to have heard Vassallo, who was for me a wonderful Germont (22 May.) Count your blessings, you Southerners. You don't know how lucky you are.

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