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  • Cast change: Marina Poplavskaya to replace Anja Harteros for Otello on 24 July

Cast change: Marina Poplavskaya to replace Anja Harteros for Otello on 24 July

German soprano withdraws with great regret.

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

24 July 2012 at 11.41am | 31 Comments

Due to personal reasons and with great regret, German soprano Anja Harteros is no longer able to perform the role of Desdemona in the performance of Otello tonight (24 July). The role will now be sung by Russian soprano Marina Poplavskaya.

Marina is a former Jette Parker Young Artist and recently sang the role of Desdemona (Act IV) at the Plácido Domingo Celebration earlier in the Season. Since making her Royal Opera debut in 2006, Marina has sung the roles of Donna Anna in Don Giovanni, Tatyana in Eugene Onegin, Elizabeth of Valois in Don Carlo and Violetta in La traviata. She will sing the role of Alice in Laurent Pelly's new production of Robert le diable next season.

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

24 July 2012 at 11.41am

This article has been categorised Opera and tagged Anja Harteros, cast change, Marina Poplavskya

This article has 31 comments

  1. NJM responded on 24 July 2012 at 12:04pm Reply

    Is there really no one better than Poplavskaya available? What a disappointment!

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 24 July 2012 at 12:17pm

      Sorry to hear you're disappointed. Marina has sung the role previously and we're sure you'll enjoy her performance this evening.

      As detailed in the above article, she's sung with The Royal Opera on a number of high-profile occasions and is a former Jette Parker Young Artist.

      Social Media Manager

  2. TJO responded on 24 July 2012 at 12:17pm Reply

    Renee Fleming was singing at the ROH Olympic event last night... It's a shame they couldn't have booked her.

  3. londonkings responded on 24 July 2012 at 12:33pm Reply

    Given the number of cancellations, the greatness of her regret cannot be taken for granted. Would it hurt for her to go on record and be quoted directly? Agree the opportunity to hear Renee instead would have been very welcome.

  4. James Flattery responded on 24 July 2012 at 12:47pm Reply

    I think Ms Harteros does have some serious personal difficulties which have been now documented. However it would be a gesture if the ROH could comment on the widely circulated rumours that she will now not be appearing in the Don Carlo next season.

    • Chris Shipman (Head of Brand Engagement and Social Media) responded on 24 July 2012 at 1:00pm

      Hi James,

      Anja Harteros will be appearing in Don Carlo next season as publicised.


      Social Media Manager

  5. I have seen Marina and regret the disparraging remarks made about her. Covent Garden is lucky to have her. She is delightful. Don't miss out.

  6. I totally agree that Poplavskaya is second best compared to Harteros. And I have seen her many times. I have now lost count of how many times I have booked and paid for a named star only to be given 2nd choice. And indeed why not Fleming? If ROH could get it together to re-cast with same standard singer or better the disappointment would be bearable.

  7. paco responded on 24 July 2012 at 2:57pm Reply

    Extremely, extremely disappointed. Cancellations of Miss Harteros at the ROH have been so systematic in the past years that I will never again book a seat for a performance where she is scheduled.

  8. Hariclea responded on 24 July 2012 at 3:53pm Reply

    Although it is very sad that Ms Harteros is experiencing personal problems that prevent her from singing (and that is indeed very sad for her:-() let's not forget this is called Otello and it has received great reviews, the orchestra and the chorus are in top form and have sounded wonderful and Antonenko is a fine Otello, there is much to enjoy in tonight's performance still :-)

  9. Peter Vandamme responded on 24 July 2012 at 4:01pm Reply

    Great regret ? In may she cancelled Boheme in London for personal reasons and she sang Contessa in Munich. Personal reasons.... Earn more money ?

  10. Kasper Holten responded on 24 July 2012 at 4:23pm Reply

    We are very sorry about Anja Harteros having to cancel tonight, and I am sorry that we have had many cancellations this season. We know it is always annoying to book for a cast and then to see it changed. We do all we can to avoid it, but singers are humans, not machines. Renee Fleming is - as far as I know - rehearsing for the scheduled Rosenkavalier in Munich and not available, but we are very happy for Marina to be available and to step in. She and Antonenko did Otello together in Salzburg, and we hope it will be exciting tonight.

    • James responded on 24 July 2012 at 8:51pm

      Im sorry Miss Harteros is having such difficulties and I understand performers are human. That said, it would be courteous to the audience for her to offer a personal apology for her many cancellations in London. We don't need details, merely an acknowledgment that she has disappointed many who have made a great effort (not least financial) to see her. Kaufmann did that and I'm sure she can too. Like Peter, I thought it was highly questionable of her to pull out of Boheme and then sing in Munich instead. Whatever the circumstances, I think audiences deserve an apology from her.

  11. Romano Endrighi responded on 24 July 2012 at 9:17pm Reply

    we shouldn't really complain, 4 out of 5 performances is not bad at all compared to say soprano Angela G.
    These days it is just how things are, singers do not care much about being professional but more about earning. Marina P is however a very good singer

  12. izabela responded on 25 July 2012 at 12:24am Reply

    Poplavskaya was magnificent !!! I attended Otello on Saturday with Harteros and last night and these were both excellent perfomances.

    And as far as I know Ms Polavskaya very often steps in for failed cast at a short notice ! Very unusual attitude for a diva :-)

  13. Richard G responded on 25 July 2012 at 1:56am Reply

    I was there. Marina was amazing and received thunderous applause for her performance.

  14. Malcolm Fawcett responded on 25 July 2012 at 7:57am Reply

    Last night was only night I COULD have booked for " Otello" !!
    Thank God I didnt as Poplavskaya was on !
    MIGHT have sold my ticket!???
    Why ROH keep using her is beyond me!! I
    Sadly I have to endure her again as I do want see " "Robert le Diable"so have tickets
    MAYBE her final ROH engagement???

    • Fay responded on 16 September 2012 at 7:40am

      Why are you so mean about Marina Poplavskaya? I saw her in 'Otello' and it was a very memorable evening. I have also just seen her in the opening night of 'I Due Foscari' in Los Angeles. She received thunderous applause (alongside the rest of the star cast which included Placido Domingo). Another great evening.

  15. paco responded on 25 July 2012 at 9:54am Reply

    Thanks for the very funny speech that you did yesterday night to indruce Miss Poplavskaya. It was a great way to start the evening in a better mood. The performance was globally excellent.

  16. Jeremy Cade responded on 25 July 2012 at 10:17am Reply

    Poplavskaya was so good last night. Poplavskaya is an artist worth listening to. Her thoughtfull interpretation and beautiful singing were the best thing about this performance. Thank goodness it wasn't Renee Flemming, Now, that would have been very very disappointing.

  17. TJO responded on 25 July 2012 at 10:54am Reply

    I echo what has been said above - Poplavskaya was fantastic, especially given minimal preparation time. I was lucky enough to have seen Harteros several times earlier in the run, and whilst I thought Harteros was superb vocally, I actually preferred Poplavskaya's characterisation and thought she was a most convincing Desdemona.
    I also thought Kasper Holten handled the situation very well at the start of last night and successfully made light of what must have been a difficult situation.

  18. UCT responded on 25 July 2012 at 11:08am Reply

    This seems to be turning into a battle-ground between the pro and anti Poplavskaya camps (with some mud slung at Anja Harteros for good measure). I was disappointed to miss Harteros (but I understand her reasons, and that she may not be in a position to make direct statements at the moment). I am not Poplavskaya's greatest fan, but thought that, for the most part, she put in a very compelling performance last night. Antonenko was quite simply astonishing; Gallo was a wonderfully insidious Iago. The whole thing worked as well as I've seen it since 1987. All credit to the tireless Tony Pappano and orchestra and chorus - after Troyens, what an achievement. And I agree with paco: thanks to Kasper Holten for a witty and tension-defusing speech. I look forward to your Eugene Onegin next season!

  19. Hariclea responded on 25 July 2012 at 11:57am Reply

    Just have to say how absolutely wonderful last night was! Marina was fabulous and her Willow song moved me to tears, which i can't say for this aria in general :-) Antonenko and Popy had amazing chemistry and finally that love duet felt like one :-) It was great she agreed to do it on such a short notice and they did wonderful work last night. One Otello i shall never forget, very very moving! And this is a brilliant season end for Pappano and the orchestra too and the chorus.They have outdone themselevs this end of season in Troyens and Otello and i could have gone on applauding them last night for hours and it wouldn't have been nearly thanks enough! Great great night from everyone!

    (And i do hope KH did fully refund Marina's ticket ;-))) appreciated the light note in the announcement.

    Did not appreciate the BRAVO shouter who couldn't let us enjoy the last seconds of the love duet music before he unleashed himself upon us. Understandable excitement, but just wish he'd let us cherish the moment a bit longer :-)

  20. Jenny Helfrecht responded on 25 July 2012 at 2:29pm Reply

    It was indeed a wonderful performance and Marina is a great singing actress and a real pro. even if she is less famous than the advertised diva. It was very noticeable last week at the Young Singers' performance of Il Viaggio a Reims that, unlike most of the cast, she did not have her nose in the score and actually acted her role (within the limitations of a concert performance. There was no suggestion in her very moving interpretation of Desdemona that she had stepped into the production to sing at the last minute and her rapport with the tenor and conductor was tremendous. In no way was this second best. Still I wish there were fewer cast changes than this season, which has ended spectacularly.

  21. UCT responded on 25 July 2012 at 2:40pm Reply

    Agreed re the bravo shouter. Utterly inconsiderate. That together with the mobile phone and some shocking coughers made for a bad audience. So disrespectful to the musicians. I think Tony Pappano could get away with saying something, rather as Simon Rattle did at the beginning of an act of Pelleas a few years ago.

  22. Michael de Navarro responded on 25 July 2012 at 4:47pm Reply

    My heart had been slightly in my boots on hearing of substitution, because I have seen Marina many times and whilst her performances are always intelligent and well sung, she has never produced the great as opposed to good performance which I have been awaiting since her Third Norn all those years ago, and her Act IV Desdemona in the Domingo celebration had left me cold. Last night she finally produced a great performance - a most moving beautifully sung and acted Desdemona - the best since Price and Riciarelli; add an Otello who is the real deal (best since Domingo and Vickers), an Iago in the Gobbi mould and a wonderfully conducted evening, up their (well almost) with Kleiber and we were very happy. It just shows one should never judge in advance. Looking forward to tonight's Operalia concert.

    • UCT responded on 25 July 2012 at 5:55pm

      Michael: if this were Facebook I would give your comment a 'like.' Spot-on, and I too am looking forward to tonight (Pappano really deserves a holiday afterwards!)

  23. Margaret Eccles responded on 26 July 2012 at 1:16am Reply

    If I'd been closer to that idiot guy who shouted "BRAVI!" at the top of his voice just as the first act's exquisite last notes were sounding, I'd have killed him. It shocked me, and I was close enough to see Tony's face - he didn't look happy.....

    I thought it was a wonderful performance - from everybody (and enjoyed Kaspar Holten's sincere yet lighthearted announcement about the cast change)

    The same guy of course had to yell out something similar at the end of the performance too, barely a nanosecond after it finished. Some people.....

  24. David Freedman responded on 26 July 2012 at 3:17pm Reply

    I think there is a huge problem with the number of cancellations that Harteros has made with the ROH this year. I was fortunate to get to see her in "Otello" and I was extremely happy with her performance (although she is a little over careful on stage) and she sang beautifully. The continued success of Poplavskya is a mystery to me; she has improved since she was a novice and was thrown into roles far too early for an major international house but her acting is still poor and very general, her voice is not pleasant although her singing has improved - I saw her perform Desdemona with Domingo and, yes, it was an improvement on her other work at the ROH but her singing was nowhere in Harteros's class. Whilst I have heard rumours as to why Harteros is cancelling such a lot I do think that we, the paying public, are entitled to an honest explanation. PS. I returned my tickets for "La Boheme" once she withdrew.

  25. David Lewis responded on 31 July 2012 at 6:14pm Reply

    We all have our favourites and it is indeed galling to book tickets to see one's favourite, only to find that he or she has had to cancel at short notice. But I at least book tickets for the artistic stimulation of the performance, rather than to see a particular singer. And this performance was undoubtedly the best I have seen of this opera. I became totally involved as never before, and left the ROH totally drained, and a large part of this was due to the singing of Desdemona. I shall look forward to her return to Covent Garden, and only hope that she will not be put off by so many negative comments.

  26. M s A responded on 6 November 2012 at 1:18am Reply

    Poplavskaya has incredible abilities to give such great performances in minimal preparation time. Her singing, emotional interpretations and performances are always at its best. Such a shame to read such negative comments. This almost feels like a children's playground. How truly very disappointing. ROH know what they're doing and how wonderful of them to always treat us with the worlds best performers. Keep up the good work

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