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  • Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo on 8 May

Cast change: Lianna Haroutounian to sing role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo on 8 May

Armenian soprano to replace Anja Harteros.

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

7 May 2013 at 1.13pm | 48 Comments

German soprano Anja Harteros has withdrawn from singing the role of Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo for the performance on 8 May due to acute tonsillitis.

The role of Elizabeth of Valois will now be sung by Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian, who makes her debut with The Royal Opera in this role. 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)

7 May 2013 at 1.13pm

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged cast change, Lianna Haroutounian

This article has 48 comments

  1. I can,t believe this !!! this woman Harteros is really a ...and I am polite.Who can really trust this woman, she is nothing , not an artist certainly not a diva , thousand HOU for her ,she can stay at home.

  2. John responded on 7 May 2013 at 1:54pm Reply

    What is the likelihood of Ms Harteros singing on the 11th? Tonsillitis doesn't normally disappear in a couple of days.

  3. Oliver responded on 7 May 2013 at 2:22pm Reply

    Travelling from Paris for Harteros ! It's presumably too soon to know if she'll sing on Saturday 11th. She's becoming a rather expensive "poule" as we say !

  4. Simon responded on 7 May 2013 at 3:08pm Reply

    Truely pathetic.

  5. Sue responded on 7 May 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

    Clearly this is deeply unfortunate and I have no doubt that if this cancellation were due to personal reasons, we would have been told, as on prior occasions. I'm very sorry she's ill and having to cancel. That said, her cancellation record is a joke. Why can't we be offered a proper apology by her agent? No one expects private details, but isn't it disrespectful to cancel so frequently and not make any kind of acknowledgement of how she has disappointed audience members who have travelled and paid good money to see her?

  6. Stephen Cutler responded on 7 May 2013 at 3:20pm Reply

    The question is not why she cancelled, but why ROH persists in hiring her. We all know this is going to happen. The only surprise is that she sang the first night.

  7. David responded on 7 May 2013 at 3:22pm Reply

    I took the precaution of booking for the first performance (that always increases ones chances of seeing her, assuming she hasn't already cancelled the whole run!) She was in stunning voice on Saturday; no sign of incipient tonsillitis. One wonders if she just wanted to get home to her long-time, sick husband, in which case she shouldn't make engagements that she is not likely to keep. It has become a recurring pattern that disappoints hundreds of people.

  8. Karen responded on 7 May 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

    I am disappointed but not entirely surprised to be honest. Tonsilitis does seem to indicate that she will not be performing on the 11th either. Luckily that ROH have a fully rehearsed replacement who I am sure will be wonderful. I beleive Kaspar Holten confirmed recently that Ms Harteros is not currently booked for any future engagements here - perhaps just as well in the circumstances.

  9. I can only reiterate what Stephen Cutler wrote. Why does the ROH hire her, particularly in the light of Tony Pappano’s recent remarks about singers who cancel?
    Having booked operas twice in the past in hopes of hearing her, and been disappointed both times, I now make a point of not booking anything with her in. As John Cleese said in ‘Clockwise': “I can cope with despair; It’s the hope I can’t bear."

  10. David responded on 7 May 2013 at 5:03pm Reply

    I too was at the first performance, if you had been there you wouldn't ask why the Opera House persist in hiring her! Having said that for an artist of her calibre to have such an appalling record is truly astonishing. Since we are never told what the problem is with her husband any sympathy that I might have is dissipated. She needs to make a decision is she a nurse or an opera singer?

  11. Kasper Holten responded on 7 May 2013 at 5:15pm Reply

    We are really sorry to disappoint many of you. Anja Harteros is a wonderful artist and singer, and did give a stunning performance on Saturday. I know that we have been very unfortunate with Ms Harteros cancelling many performances over the last seasons, but that she has indeed been hit by acute tonsillitis is not something that she or The Royal Opera can help, although it is of course deeply unfortunate. I do hope you will enjoy Lianna Haroutounian, whom we are very excited about.

    • Stephen Cutler responded on 8 May 2013 at 9:52am

      If she is sick, why not put her medical certificate up on line so that we can at least see that? As it is, "Dear Mr Holten, Anja has a sore throat and can't come to school today" doesn't cut it. For myself, I simply don't believe it.

  12. EM responded on 7 May 2013 at 5:45pm Reply

    So will she or will she not be singing on Saturday?

    I will be very sorry if she is not. It will be very, very disappointing.

    • Ellen West (Head of Creative Studios and Digital Products) responded on 7 May 2013 at 6:16pm

      We will keep you posted about how well Anja Harteros is recovering from acute tonsillitis, but we are unable to say whether she will be well enough to perform on Saturday.

  13. Stephen Diviani responded on 7 May 2013 at 6:13pm Reply

    So I guess that Ms Harteros will not be singing the role on 11th May either. Why would she? Ah well, I'm trying to keep an open mind about Ms Haroutounian and wish her well but the great Harteros is a hard act to follow.

  14. Michael Haringman responded on 7 May 2013 at 6:33pm Reply

    This has become farcical and totally unaccepatable. That's four times in a season and a half that she's withdrawn from performances that we've booked for - La Boheme, Suor Angelica, Otello and now Don Carlo - absurd. Antonio Pappano's remarks were entirely justified.

  15. MR responded on 7 May 2013 at 6:55pm Reply

    Just gutted - I share Tony Pappano's pain over these habitual cancellers but at least he got to hear this one once. I have forked out a fortune on stalls seats and dinner which I would never have done for someone making their house debut and (according to her website), her role debut here. I guess the House will be saving a lot on her fee compared to Harteros and its really not good enough that the pain is all ours.

  16. Guy Craft responded on 7 May 2013 at 8:09pm Reply

    "but we are unable to say whether she will be well enough to perform on Saturday."

    If Ms Harteros does indeed have "acute tonsillitis" then the chances of her being able to sing on Saturday are remote indeed, as the Royal Opera know only to well.

  17. Mary Josefina Cade responded on 7 May 2013 at 9:33pm Reply

    Ms. Harteros cancelled her appearances in two performances I was due to attend. I was hoping for third time lucky..... Looks like I won't ever be hearing her perform live.
    Lianna Haroutounian I will be supporting you all the way. It's going to be hard to perform for so many disappointed people.

  18. Lianna Haroutounian is an amazing singer and actress...
    You won't regret listening to her, you can be sure about that... !!! :)

  19. It is disappointing when a cast member that audiences want to see pulls out but people should support the replacement. She has a good CV and opera history is littered with stellar debuts by last minute stand-ins; indeed, those attending tonight may well be able to say "I was there when...." Good luck Miss Haroutounian.

  20. Adina responded on 8 May 2013 at 10:23am Reply

    I only hope that she didn't spit her tonsillitis on the tenor.

  21. Leonore responded on 8 May 2013 at 12:12pm Reply

    If the ROH did not engage Harteros, they would be constantly asked, 'Why are you not booking the foremost Verdi soprano of today?' It is not the same as with Battle - a totally different level of singer. Artists are booked up to 5 years ahead, and illness happens. It's sad, but it's only opera - and the lady singing the part on the 8th may well be a great discovery.

  22. stephen ratcliffe responded on 8 May 2013 at 12:19pm Reply

    When I saw Harteros in SImon Boccanegra I thought she was wonderful and am really disappointed that since the she has cancelled on me four times in a row. But to be honest I never expected her to show and II have high hopes for Ms Haroutounian - and really hope she is as exciting as Mr Holten says. Still looking forward to this evening

  23. Mark responded on 8 May 2013 at 1:51pm Reply

    I'm a bit puzzled by all of this. Obviously it's disappointing when someone cancels but when I book for Don Carlos, it certainly isn't only to hear the Elisabeth. We have Kaufmann, Kwiecen, Furlanetto Halfvarson and Pappano to listen to as well and an Eboli that I'm curious to hear. I am hugely looking forward to all of them, together with what may be a special replacement for Harteros. In any case, it's a fabulous opera. It has to be a very special singer indeed for me cross the channel simply to hear them, given the risks that all singers face (I've been bitten twice by Domingo cancelling and at one point thought that I was Anna Netrebko's personal jinx). Given her record and her moderate Desdemona last year, if Harteros had been the only reason for coming, I'd have saved my money. I'll be rooting for Ms Haroutounian.

  24. Richard Butler responded on 8 May 2013 at 2:03pm Reply

    Do we remember when Joyce Di Donato broke a leg a few years back and gave a brilliant performance of Rosina in a wheelchair..?

  25. Very sad for Anja Harteros to have got acute tonsillitis as my wife is going tonight - we couldn't get a ticket for me due to failure of the booking system!

    Presumably the BBC didn't record Saturday's performance, so it looks unlikely that we will hear the broadcast, whenever it is, with Harteros as she probably won't be able to recover in the next 3 days.

    Still we did see her in Otello last July, so that's a plus!

  26. Gerald responded on 8 May 2013 at 3:42pm Reply

    Unbelievable. First night rave reviews, in perfect voice, second performance, acute tonsilitis. If AH hadn't a track record for letting audiences down, we might have believed her, but this is stretching the our credulity too far. When I remember Sutherland who NEVER cancelled...

    • You are absolutely right !!

    • Peter responded on 10 May 2013 at 9:21am

      Sutherland did cancel. I remember that she cancelled at least one of her performances of Esclamonde at covent garden in the 80s. There was no cover and we were treated to a performance of Madame butterfly instead.

  27. Robert responded on 8 May 2013 at 11:41pm Reply

    Well that is you Mark, but when I book for Don Carlo in a production I personally find unappealing the reason I do so is to hear Anja Harteros AND Jonas Kaufmann. That is also why I am content to blow my budget by paying £220 per ticket for that privilege when normally I would pay £78 to sit in the side stalls circle. But such was the demand, I was unable to get tickets at this price for any performance in this run. Having originally secured tickets for the 18th May, we were informed that Ms Harteros had pulled out of the final four performances of the run (which included the 18th), causing me to spend hours and hours over several days checking the website for returns. My efforts paid off, as I was fortunate to obtain a couple of returns for one a Harteros performance on the 8th May only to discover on the evening of the 7th that she had now pulled out of that performance having contracted "severe tonsillitis" within two days of receiving ecstatic notices for her opening night. I would also add that, over the last several years, I have booked for every single one of the 6 productions in which Ms Harteros has been slated to appear at Covent Garden, yet despite this I have managed to see her precisely ONCE - in Otello last year. In other words, this is the 5th time she has cancelled across 6 different productions, and even in the Otello I understand she cancelled the last performance of the run. If I were her agent/manager, the least I would done by now was to issue a warm, personal and sincere note of apology, recognising the huge disappointment caused by these cancellations, so that as dedicated and knowledgeable opera-goers we are left with some faith that she continues to have a vestige of respect for us as her London public.

    • John responded on 9 May 2013 at 10:17am

      Harteros has only been booked for 5 operas at Covent Garden but you're correct that she has cancelled roughly 70% of her performances. No one is expecting her to start revealing private details but I do find it extraordinary that her agent has not had the common sense to issue an apology. Managers of opera houses may be receiving statements of regret, but we THE PAYING PUBLIC on whom her career depends have received absolutely nothing in the way of apology from her. Why? Doesn't she have any concern for her reputation or her long-term relationship with audiences in the UK?

    • Robert,I am agree with you, thanks for your clever comment.

  28. Michael de Navarro responded on 8 May 2013 at 11:43pm Reply

    Haroutounian did very well, certainly one of the better Elizabeth's I have heard, even if she could not quite match the extraordinary subtlety of Furlanetto's and Kaufmann's singing and acting (in particular the latter's pianissimo singing in Act 5, the like of which I have not heard in over 50 years at ROH and elsewhere). A privilege to be there this evening. As for Miss Harteros, if there is a long term problem, she really shouldn't be engaged again until it is over. That is either 3 or 4 times in a row for me and one begins to become very sceptical about the excuses when they are trotted out so often. She ought to take a leaf out of Joyce di Donato's book. The show should go on.

  29. Cool! Harteros has taken revenge for being dumped from Boheme last year. Good on her!

  30. Cade responded on 9 May 2013 at 12:24am Reply

    No need to feel any loss about the cast change for the role of Elisabetta. This is a great opera, and with this wonderful cast of great contemporary singers it really is not to be missed if you love opera and have the chance of attending.
    Jonas Kaufmann is a remarkable artist.
    Ms Haroutounian's debut in the role of Elisabetta on Wednesday was a resounding success.

  31. Michael responded on 9 May 2013 at 3:32am Reply

    I am a huge Harteros fan. Anyone who has had the chance to hear her live will tell you that she is an incredible soprano. Probably one of the finnest in the world at the moment. She also appears to be a caring and devoted person to her sick husband. It is quite unfortunate that these cancellations seemed to be happening a lot at the ROH but do you know what people... GET OVER IT... I much prefer having the chance that she will show up for a few performances that not seeing her at all the ROH . So yes MR Holten keep booking her we need superb artist like Mrs Harteros.
    I was there the first night Grigolo sang Des Grieux as a replacement for Villazon. I was also there when the incredible Monastyrka was a last minute replacement in Aida. Both were absolutely incredible.
    So I am looking forward to hear Miss Haroutounian on the 15 and I am also looking forward to hear Mrs Harteros in the near future I hope at the ROH.

  32. Barrie Scott responded on 9 May 2013 at 8:03am Reply

    So do tell us - what was Haroutounian like last night? Harteros was quite superb on Saturday (at that performance we forgave her all her cancellations!), but when a friend texted me last night to say she had seen Haroutounian instead, I only slightly interpolated an eyebrow-raise! I wonder what the audience reaction was to the announcement too!

  33. Matteo responded on 9 May 2013 at 9:46am Reply

    She should stop singing on stage . She cancels non stop everywhere, she did cancel most of Lohengrin's performances in Milan in December, verdi's requiem on Easter in Berlin and almost every scheduled performance in London.

  34. mark bennett responded on 9 May 2013 at 10:19am Reply

    If Kasper had been 'upstairs' when he made his announcement last night, he'd have heard the boos - not because Harteros wasn't there, but because ROH persists in engaging her.

    I was honoured to hear Lianna Haroutounian sing Elizabeth of Valois; it was a night like no other.


  35. stephen ratcliffe responded on 9 May 2013 at 10:24am Reply

    Haroutounian was superb - especially in the last Act when I felt her voice had really warmed up and all the nerves had gone away. She was confident from the word go but it was only towards the end that she sang softly and we could appreciate all the colours in her voice. In hope I will book for Harteros again but I will also pay money to see Haroutounian. She deserved the ovation she got at the end

  36. John B responded on 9 May 2013 at 10:41am Reply

    Harteros who? Last night was brilliant. Well done, ROH. Great cast.

  37. Thomas responded on 9 May 2013 at 12:23pm Reply

    Last night , 8 May 2013 , Lianna Haroutounian as Elisabetta was excellent , amazing , gorgeous ....what a Voice , a REAL VOICE to sing Verdi inthe Italian Style , like Mirella Freni - I hope to see Haroutounian again and again here at the ROH , 'cause she's absolutely AMAZING ! I'll pay a fortune to see her again !!! Well done Kasper , where did you get Mrs Haroutounian ?
    You've engaged a wonderfull Soprano ......thanks a lot !!! Tommy .

  38. Andrew responded on 9 May 2013 at 3:33pm Reply

    Last night's performance was one to remember for a very long time. Lianna Haroutounian was magnificent: a very good voice and a convincing actress. But what made it a special night was that all the other singers, the orchestra and chorus were in excellent form and the production was moving and convincing. Any one who decided not to come because of one cast change would have missed something special

  39. Nicholas Hawkins responded on 9 May 2013 at 4:05pm Reply

    I only hope that all replacement artists are as good as Lianna Haroutounian - I was bowled over by her singing and acting. Eat your heart out Anja Harteros!
    On a more disturbing note, I hear from a friend who lives near Bologna that Jonas Kauffmann is scheduled to accept a prize at the Teatro Communale in Bologno on 18th May. Since he is supposed to be singing at Covent Garden that night, how will he do that? Anyone got any ideas?

  40. Susan responded on 9 May 2013 at 8:17pm Reply

    Maybe we should all be grateful to Ms Harteros for providing so many opportunities for other sopranos to advance their careers by taking over from her.

  41. Leonore responded on 10 May 2013 at 10:36am Reply

    Michael de Navarro - Agreed about Kaufmann's soft singing in Act 5 - on Saturday I was some distance away in the Balcony but I still heard every syllable despite his singing so very quietly - and with matchless legato line. Whoever is singing Elisabeth, it is worth going just to hear Kaufmann.

  42. hugh brigstocke responded on 10 May 2013 at 11:49am Reply

    In my view, Harteros is totally and shamefully unprofessional in her conduct, regardless of her personal circumstances. I can think of no other profession where it would be tolerated. Given her ROH attendance record, few will have much sympathy for her present 'indisposition' with so-called tonsillitis. Surely the ROH management, instead of being mocked and bullied,or simply complaining through the chief conductor, should take proper control and firmly blacklist notoriously unreliable performers. Even great singers may live to regret that.ROH were extremely lucky to have a fully rehearsed replacement on May 8 and she was truly glorious. Sad that she had to make her debut, unreviewed, as understudy. Management should not waste taxpayers' and patrons' money chasing the butt of fragile prima-donnas.

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