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  • Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo for 4 performances

Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo for 4 performances

Armenian soprano to replace Anja Harteros on 15, 18, 21, and 25 May.

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

26 February 2013 at 2.00pm | 39 Comments

German soprano Anja Harteros has withdrawn from singing the role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo for the final four performances in May (15, 18, 21, and 25 May).  Anja is not able at this point to stay abroad for an extended period of time as originally planned.

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

Lianna's recent roles include Desdemona in Otello for Opéra-Bastille in Paris, Leonora in Il trovatore in Marseille, Amelia in Simon Boccanegra in Lille, Mimì in La bohème for the Grand Théâtre in Tours and Amelia in Un ballo in maschera at the Stadttheater in Bern and the Grand Théâtre in Tours.  Her roles during the 2012–13 season include Elena (I vespri siciliani) at the Megaron Concert Hall, Athens; and Vitellia (La clemenza di Tito) for Opéra de Marseille.

The rest of the cast remains unchanged.


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

26 February 2013 at 2.00pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Lianna Haroutounian, The Bob and Tamar Manoukian Production Workshop

This article has 39 comments

  1. romano responded on 26 February 2013 at 2:22pm Reply

    This comes as no surprise

  2. James responded on 26 February 2013 at 2:24pm Reply

    What a shame! At least we have been given a more detailed explanation this time, rather than just 'personal reasons'. I wish her all the best.

  3. Ian Greenwood responded on 26 February 2013 at 3:31pm Reply

    Perhaps it's time to stop booking this woman. She just cannot be relied upon , no matter what the reason.

  4. Peter Erdos responded on 26 February 2013 at 3:42pm Reply

    It would have been a miracle if she turned up. Why bother to engage her at all?

  5. James responded on 26 February 2013 at 4:15pm Reply

    Given how predicable this announcement is, why has the Royal Opera secured a more established performer to sing alongside some of the greatest Verdi singers in the world? Surely most sopranos would kill off a few relatives to sing opposite Kaufmann?

  6. James responded on 26 February 2013 at 4:16pm Reply

    To clarify - I meant why has the house NOT secured a more established performer. I bet no one in the audience will ever have heard of Haroutounian.

  7. Karen responded on 26 February 2013 at 4:33pm Reply

    While being understanding of Ms Harteros personal situation and the dilemma of the ROH, isn't it about time both parties bowed to reality and stopped booking her until her personal situation allows?

  8. marco magnani responded on 26 February 2013 at 5:25pm Reply

    Harteros did not do very well in Munich !!
    In bocca al lupo to this new soprano

  9. This is precisely why I booked for the First Night.

  10. Thomas responded on 26 February 2013 at 7:36pm Reply

    I was in Bilbao a few days ago for Les vêpres Siciliennes : Miss Haroutounian has been an amazing Hélène , beside Gregory Kunde in a gorgeous shape !
    I'm so glad Miss Haroutounian makes her Covent Garden Debut in Don Carlos : she deserves it .
    I guess she's born to sing Verdi .

  11. There are several recordings of Haroutounian on YouTube and she is extremely impressive. I'd be happy to hear her in any Verdi but I do understand the disappointment of audience members who have bought tickets hoping to see Harteros. I don't imagine she will be re-employed at the house anytime soon.

  12. shenrich responded on 27 February 2013 at 1:38pm Reply

    I couldn't agree more - the ROH should end their unlucky relationship with Ms. Harteros until she is capable of managing her life and engagements.


  14. Maria Maher responded on 27 February 2013 at 3:45pm Reply

    I agree, ROH should stop booking her. Unfortunately she does have a velvet voice and it is a please to hear her when she shows up. I'm surprised the ROH wasn't able to secure someone more established to sing opposite Kaufmann, but given the positive comments on Haroutounian, I am looking forward to hearing her and wish her all the best in her debut at ROH - lucky chance for her and to sing opposite Kaufmann! Now I'm just waiting to see if the other prima donna Gheorghiu will show up for La Rondine...

  15. Peter Hadden responded on 27 February 2013 at 4:35pm Reply

    Please stop booking people who keep letting you

  16. Albert responded on 27 February 2013 at 11:53pm Reply

    Whitouth Kaufmann and Harteros performances on 21 and 25 May would need a reduction on the price of tickets. At least, ROH could offer a free cup of champagne to everybody that evenings, as a kind of compensation.
    Except in case of illnesses, somebody know if ROH impose economycal punishsment for singers that withdrawn?
    Last year in La Scala Netrebko accepted to sung Massenet's Manon when other singer withdraw. So, waiting more than two months for the performances in this case, ROH still have time enough to find somebody well known, apart from the provably cover of Harteros.

  17. Jonathan responded on 28 February 2013 at 10:48am Reply

    How many times has this woman cancelled? It's about time the ROH gave its audiences some credit and arranged decent replacements instead of going for the cheapest option. This action is, once again, utterly disgraceful.

  18. Merlin responded on 28 February 2013 at 10:55am Reply

    A free glass of champagne to compensate? As the Opera House is a charity, where is the funding for this to come from ... the sponsors? Not what I'd call a good idea. Or are they meant to approach Anja and ask her to cover the cost? And has no one listened to the comment from Thomas... maybe she will surprise you all.

  19. I take your point, Merlin, but the Royal Opera's policy of not offering a discount when major performers pull out (claiming they charge for the show, not any individual performer) flies in the face of ticket sales: just look at how quickly Domingo's Nabucco tickets sold, likewise Kaufmann's Don Carlo and surely Gheorghiu's Rondine too. This is how the business works and it would be fair to audiences to acknowledge it financially.

  20. Kasper Holten responded on 28 February 2013 at 1:30pm Reply

    Dear all,

    Thank you for your comments. We are of course very sorry for the disappointment this has caused. However, I can assure you Ms Harteros has very good and serious reasons for this decision - reasons that she has asked us not to disclose, but which we understand and respect. Ms Harteros was booked for this part a very long time ago, and it would have been impossible to foresee this situation back then.

    Based on Lianna Haroutounian's latest appearances, not least in Bilbao as mentioned in a comment, we are very excited to be presenting her, and I do hope she will be well liked by you all. We are very grateful that she was available with such short notice, as it is certainly not always an easy task to find a replacement singer with very short notice.

    We do not reduce the ticket prices for the performances without Kaufmann and/or Harteros - but similarly we do not charge more for performances with well known singers. If we started charging more for performances with star names, then of course we should also offer a discount if they withdraw, but that is not the case. We still do offer an exchange policy, where audiences can exchange tickets for another opera in the booking period, which is something most opera houses do not offer, even when casts change.

    It is inevitable that casts change sometimes. We are dealing with humans, and things happen. We do all we can to avoid it, and it has generally happened much less this season so far than last season, but we are of course very sorry to disappoint you.

    Best wishes

  21. Thanks for your reply, Kasper. Whilst I would be very as not to hear Harteros again at the Royal Opera House, it seems it would be unwise for her to commit to further contracts given the circumstances. Does the Royal Opera have plans with her for future seasons?

  22. Kasper Holten responded on 28 February 2013 at 5:20pm Reply

    @Sue, there are currently no firm plans for Ms Harteros to appear with us in the future after Don Carlo, no.

  23. Roy responded on 1 March 2013 at 7:52am Reply

    'we do not charge more for performances with well known singers '

    Oh come now Kasper, of course you do!

    Would you really be charging top whack for revival of a very old production of the relatively unpopular Rondine with any casting other than Ms Angela G ?
    Clearly you price according to star power, but seek to deny this by also charging top price for the star free performances in the same run, which then fail to sell well, as in Nabucco, priced for Mr Domingo's presence in half of them.

  24. Jon responded on 1 March 2013 at 12:09pm Reply

    I agree with Roy...audiences are being penalized by being charged higher prices for lower star performers.

  25. Sue responded on 1 March 2013 at 1:12pm Reply

    I'm afraid I totally agree with Roy as well. There's no way you'd be charging that much for La Rondine if it weren't for Gheorghiu. Stars sell the house - it was ever thus. Perhaps Harteros can be persuaded to step in occasionally when there is a cancellation (say in Boheme or Traviata) since this would require minimum rehearsal and give us a chance to hear her?

  26. Albert responded on 1 March 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

    Then, if do not reduce ticket prices, can be assumed that the exciting newcomer singer would be paid as well as the withdraw one?

    • bogdi responded on 8 March 2013 at 11:44pm

      they should, you know! if it's true we pay for the show and not for the performer (ehehehe!), they should equally distribute the gains.

  27. Denise responded on 3 March 2013 at 7:56am Reply

    "It is inevitiable that casts change sometimes. We are dealing with humans, and things happen."

    Accepted and I understand and can sympathise with the singer who takes ill unexpectedly. The present case is different. Ms Harteros has a history of cancellations arising from what I understand to be an ongoing difficult situation that she has to manage. This is not something that has happened "overnight". She and the Royal Opera House should have faced up to it and addressed the cast change before booking opened.

  28. John Morley responded on 3 March 2013 at 6:26pm Reply

    What a disappointment for people! On reading the announcement I instantly checked that my evening was an earlier performance. Relief! - for me, though obviously not for many others. We get frustrated because we want so much to hear a singer in a specific role or in a specific pairing. Harteros/Kaufmann were wonderful together in Don Carlo in Munich. I am looking foward to the new Trovatore there with them Harteros is a special singer (Desdemona and Amelia B. here and many roles in Munich and Vienna). I have no idea what her reasons are for leaving early, nor are they any of my business. I am sad that there are no future roles slated for her here as that means we won't hear her at all. We all have our disappointments. Netrebko cancelled as Giulietta because of being exhausted after childbirth - the comments from women in the audience the night that was announced were very interesting! Eri Nakamura replaced her well but I bet she didn't get anywhere near the fee. Perhaps it will be the same for this new lady? If she is so good, maybe she should be the Helene in the new Vepres Siciliennes - I have heard rumours that it's Ms Poplavskaya (huge personal disappointment for me). I have just heard Barbara Frittoli as a lovely Elisabeth in Don Carlo in the same production at the Met. Was she approached? Not available? Too expensive? Too well known? Oh to be a fly on the wall when those decisions are made and contracts drawn up! Let's hope things go well for the new lady - this could be a big step for her. Harteros will live to fight another day. Oh, and one last thing - we don't charge more for big names, or whatever. Tosh. How do you cover their fees? Or is it the cost of programmes which covers it?

  29. romano responded on 4 March 2013 at 6:21pm Reply

    Sometimes less well know singers are just waiting for the opportunity to step in and show us how good and committed to the character they are! It has happen to me in the past that an unknown singer actually performed way better than the "ill" one. And to me this is the beauty of Opera

  30. Sue responded on 7 March 2013 at 2:39pm Reply

    It will be a great pity if Harteros doesn't return to the Royal Opera House in the future, as she is one of the finest (an artistically most reliable) singers in the world, who was inexplicably ignored by the management for years when she was the best Mozart soprano around. We hear some wonderful singers in London, but the casting can be perplexing - no Garanca, Damrau, Netrebko or Fleming for years at a time yet Poplavskaya comes back every season. Perhaps they just don't pay enough in London?

  31. Christopher responded on 10 March 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

    I'm glad Mlle HAROUTOUNIAN get such a good opportuniity to perform at ROH COVENT GARDEN as I saw her in YOU TUBE and seems to me a very good Artist .
    Every year I go on vacation in Italy and attend some Performances at the ARENA di VERONA : there are a few young Artists I'd like to see at the COVENT GARDEN very much like Marco VINCO , a great Leporello in 2012 under the baton of Daniel OREN or the nice french mezzo Géraldine CHAUVET , a gorgeous CARMEN in 2009 & 2010 ,conducted by Placido DOMINGO , staged by Franco ZEFFIRELLI ; in december 2012 she also did her METROPOLITAN debut as Sesto in La CLEMENZA di TITO getting a personal achievement .
    Many good "young" Artists are wayting for a chance on the Stage of the ROH .... just give them an opportunity and again I'd like to remember Anna Samuil ,a fresh and dramatic Donna Anna in 2012 in Verona and the Indian-american Tenor Andrew Richards , many times appearing in Verona .......
    Anyway I want to say I trust the Artistic Management of Covent Garden : I mean I'm sure before they engage an Artist to replace Mrs Harteros they went anywhere to listen live Performances , to choose the best One available in the world !
    COVENT GARDEN always delivers : I've never heard a bad Singer on ROH's Stage .......always the best Ones !
    I want to thank the Artistic Direction of Covent Garden for all their effort to give us the best !

  32. Phillip Arnold responded on 11 March 2013 at 8:52am Reply

    They should get Gheorghiu to attempt to sing her first Elisabetta. Then she could cancel too, as she probably will some of her Rondines.

  33. guerin marie responded on 16 March 2013 at 1:19pm Reply

    Lianna Haroutounian est assurément une magnifique soprane interprétant la musique de G. Verdi avec sensibilité,agilité et talent...Elle l'a interprétée sur les scènes françaises de nombreuses fois et sa voix a conquis le public et les critiques.Il faut se réjouir de la voir sur les scènes européennes

  34. Ron Pollard responded on 5 May 2013 at 8:14pm Reply

    When was Christine Rice replaced as Eboli..and Ms Uria-Monzon was the BEST you could do??

  35. Nigel responded on 6 May 2013 at 9:55am Reply

    I was at Don Carlo on 4th May - Harteros was magnificent - a true Verdian soprano with supreme purity of voice and heart melting softening of the voice to triple forte in the last act - the sound of a pure broken heart - she may cancel often just as Callas - but unlike Callas she not only senses what musical perfection is but can deliver that perfection - Harteros communicates the tragic character that is tidal of the great Verdi soprano roles - the character of a strong woman who can fight injustice from within her heart - Leonora, Violetta and of course Elizabetta. I do not know what causes Harteros to have to cancel but it is obvious that she cannot stay far from home for some vital reason - I believe that ROH should bring her back as soon as possible to share runs of Traviata and Trovatore - and ensure that these are relayed HD performances in the style of the Met - why should London be deprived of one of the greatest opera stars of all time? Harteros outshone all the other greats on stage on 4th May because she is still young enough and is possibly rationing her voice - I believe no one should complain - just listen and experience a great and sublime voice

  36. Sara Phillips responded on 8 May 2013 at 2:31pm Reply

    Sick Note Harteros strikes again! (May 8th). She may be brilliant (how would I know?) but this artist has severe reliability problems. I have never heard her live, because of the three times I have booked to hear her, she has canx three times.

  37. Leonore responded on 8 May 2013 at 6:38pm Reply

    Can't agree, Nigel. She has a great voice, her actual instrument is on the same level as Kaufmann's but dramatically she is nowhere near. There is no comparison. As one critic said (Independent? Guardian?), someone had maybe not told her she was required to act.

    BTW, what is 'softening of the voice to triple forte?'

  38. Stewart Rigby responded on 10 May 2013 at 6:29pm Reply

    I attended the 8 May performance, expecting to hear Harteros etc. Mr Holten appeared on stage to say she could not sing due to tonsilitis, and that Haroutounian would take her place. My heart sank, but I need not have worried. Hartounian was superb!

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