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ROH simply unlucky?


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I offer this post for discussion and take no particular viewpoint   I'm asking if ROH has been particularly unlucky this season re cast changes or are there other forces at work?  Here's the plot:

 

-  Two sets of tickets for RB Autumn Season to see Osipova.  She is injured and cannot perform in London but I can

   catch her if I travel

 

-  Snaffled one ticket to hear Jonas Kaufmann but he phones in sick two days before performance and we endure

   adequate replacement in below par staging of Carmen

 

-  Last night, Cavalleria Rusticana and I Pagliacci lose their male lead and we are only told at curtain up.  Replacements

   flown in from New York and Latvia.  Both okay (ish) but the substitution showed.

 

I have a ticket for Gheorgiu and am wonder what my chances of her materialising are?

 

 

Let me say that I have great sympathy for ROH.  I understand that artistes are human beings and subject to the same ailments as the rest of us and I would not under any circumstances want anyone to perform when they are below par.  I also get that in a perfect world we are meant to book for the performance and not the performers.

 

However, the reverse side of this is that ROH puts a lot of emphasis on its star names and, with opera, prices are sometimes adjusted accordingly.  Cav and Pag is this season's most expensive production and I paid and eye watering £224 for my ticket.  I ended up seeing an opera whose male leads had both been parachuted in the day before and so obviously lacked rehearsal time.  More importantly, the production had been created with another cast in mind which meant that in Cavalleria the full-throated Wesbroek totally dominated her partner.  Yes, the standard was good but it wasn't as it should have been.

 

The Kaufmann no-show was even more irritating.  I'm not the only person who had no desire to see this rather tired Carmen but I wanted to hear Kaufmann once before I die!  When you factor in the cost of tickets, train fare, dinner and, in my case, dog sitters, it's an expensive non-event.

 

I would like to hear views.  On balance my sympathy is with ROH but, at the end of the day, I'm getting tied of shelling out for something that isn't being delivered.

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It looks to me as though ROH has had a very unfortunate set of circumstances and that you personally have been extremely unlucky.

 

We've had discussions on various threads in the past and I have to say that over the years I have come to appreciate that the two companies I follow  only publish casting very late in the day so I always have to take pot luck on casting and sometimes book extra tickets to (hopefully) see casts that I particularly want to.  I am also very lucky in that, at the moment, tickets for the venues those companies appear at cost nothing like those at ROH!

 

You really have my sympathies over this one Penelope; I think I would be in despair by now.

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It looks to me as though ROH has had a very unfortunate set of circumstances and that you personally have been extremely unlucky.

 

We've had discussions on various threads in the past and I have to say that over the years I have come to appreciate that the two companies I follow  only publish casting very late in the day so I always have to take pot luck on casting and sometimes book extra tickets to (hopefully) see casts that I particularly want to.  I am also very lucky in that, at the moment, tickets for the venues those companies appear at cost nothing like those at ROH!

 

You really have my sympathies over this one Penelope; I think I would be in despair by now.

 

 

Yes, you begin to wonder if you're cursed or something!  Last night was my Christmas treat (from me to me!) and it was just so disappointing.  The audience were, as ever, generous to the replacement and he was in good voice but Cavalleria is a hugely emotional piece and the fact the new guy was short and of slight figure whilst Westbroek is powerfully built with a voice to match, meant that there was no balance in the arias.  Possibly with more rehearsal they could have sorted it out but it just didn't work.  I know its no-one's fault but it was a costly night.  I come from a long way off so had arranged a supper tray in the Hall which is pretty highly priced.  None of which I would mind if the central purpose of all the expenditure - the performance - was as billed!   

 

I think I'm going to send my Gheorgiu tickets back for re-sale.  I just can't take the risk anymore and will stick to ballet and hope Ms Osipova has had a chance to rest up and be ready for Giselle.

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To the list above one should perhaps add the absence (through injury?) of Matthew Golding and the injury to his initial replacement Federico Bonelli.

 

They may not be as high profile as the singers/dancer mentioned by penelopesimpson but their inability to perform will undoubtedly have caused headaches for the AD.

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If you lived in Paris, Munich, Vienna or New York do you think you would have better luck in seeing/hearing the casts of your choice? Or is the management of the ROH to be held particularly responsible for these cancellations? In the days when I used to be able to visit New York to see the NYCB I cannot recall one occasion when there was not a slip in the programme announcing one or more cast changes, and that was when casts were only posted at the beginning of the week of performance. I think that opera and ballet are art forms that make particularly heavy demands on performers, and injury, illness, and indeed temperament can all take their toll. I fear that these are hazards which we the paying public just have to accept, even though I can think of one brave artist who managed to perform in a wheelchair. 

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It looks to me as though ROH has had a very unfortunate set of circumstances and that you personally have been extremely unlucky.

 

It has to be said that it's not the first time the ROH has had a very unfortunate set of circumstances, by any means.  I seem to remember one a few years ago which was really bad.  Plus I gather there are certain singers who some people don't tend to book for any longer because they are always cancelling. 

 

But yes, you've obviously been very unfortunate, Penelope.

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If you lived in Paris, Munich, Vienna or New York do you think you would have better luck in seeing/hearing the casts of your choice? Or is the management of the ROH to be held particularly responsible for these cancellations? In the days when I used to be able to visit New York to see the NYCB I cannot recall one occasion when there was not a slip in the programme announcing one or more cast changes, and that was when casts were only posted at the beginning of the week of performance. I think that opera and ballet are art forms that make particularly heavy demands on performers, and injury, illness, and indeed temperament can all take their toll. I fear that these are hazards which we the paying public just have to accept, even though I can think of one brave artist who managed to perform in a wheelchair. 

I rather hoped I'd made it clear that I was not blaming ROH, simply putting the topic up to gain the benefit of others viewpoints.

 

Cast changes are, in my view, relatively few at ROH which is why this past season has appeared to be something of an anomaly.  However, there is a difference between 'cast changes' and losing the Principal on each occasion!  Yes, maybe I should be high-minded and say it doesn't matter but it does.  I can't visit as often as I would like both due to funds and the travel involved so, not surprisingly, I pick my performances carefully and it is disappointing when they don't pan out as advertised.

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Let me say first that I know nothing about opera but if it is reasonably common for singers to have to withdraw couldn't there be a better contingency plan than having to fly people in the day before? Couldn't they rehearse understudies within the company?

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Let me say first that I know nothing about opera but if it is reasonably common for singers to have to withdraw couldn't there be a better contingency plan than having to fly people in the day before? Couldn't they rehearse understudies within the company?

 

 

What company? Someone will doubtless correct me but I've always assumed that the Royal Opera had an orchestra and chorus and that everyone else was on an individual contract for the production, so no understudies. Perhaps now the Young Artists give them more flexibility in finding replacements.

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Penelope, you do seem to have been unlucky. If it is any comfort (probably not but I'll have a go) the attractions of this CavPag were imho mainly the orchestral playing and the production (and a couple of the smaller roles, which were really exceptionally well sung). The main singers were no more than just fine (albeit that I am no special fan of these particular works so probably not best placed to judge, although I did see Mario del Monaco in this repertoire) My point is that your CavPag evening might perhaps have not been all that much better if the original cast were on stage. Certainly not to be compared with losing Osipova or Kaufmann, who are currently in the absolute top league internationally.

 

There is a more general point, which is that sometimes the short notice replacement is better, most recently the ROH Traviata debut of Bakanova in July. Sadly I was not there for that performance but everyone who was backs this report:-

 

http://gu.com/p/4adm6

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Penelope, you do seem to have been unlucky. If it is any comfort (probably not but I'll have a go) the attractions of this CavPag were imho mainly the orchestral playing and the production (and a couple of the smaller roles, which were really exceptionally well sung). The main singers were no more than just fine (albeit that I am no special fan of these particular works so probably not best placed to judge, although I did see Mario del Monaco in this repertoire) My point is that your CavPag evening might perhaps have not been all that much better if the original cast were on stage. Certainly not to be compared with losing Osipova or Kaufmann, who are currently in the absolute top league internationally.

 

There is a more general point, which is that sometimes the short notice replacement is better, most recently the ROH Traviata debut of Bakanova in July. Sadly I was not there for that performance but everyone who was backs this report:-

 

http://gu.com/p/4adm6

 

 

You make some excellent points, Geoff.  Yes, the orchestra were sublime for Cav/Pag and for minutes at a time I closed my eyes and let Pappano's wonderful feel for the music wash over me.  Similarly, the supporting players were first-class.  Yes, there was a lot to like so I should have been more appreciative.  I suppose it was just the last one (I hope!) in a string of disappointments.  But I wouldn't have missed it for worlds whereas Carmen was really a grim experience.

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As far as seeing Jonas Kaufmann is concerned - which I thoroughly recommend! - you could try for one of his recital appearances, rather than a full on opera. I don't know when his next one is, but from your point of view, at least you know he will not be substituted at the last minute and if he did cancel for whatever reason, you would probably be able to get your money back, if only for the performance.

Edited to say my post almost sounds as though you should expect to be disappointed, which is not what I meant!  :wacko:

Edited by Jacqueline
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As far as seeing Jonas Kaufmann is concerned - which I thoroughly recommend! - you could try for one of his recital appearances, rather than a full on opera. I don't know when his next one is, but from your point of view, at least you know he will not be substituted at the last minute and if he did cancel for whatever reason, you would probably be able to get your money back, if only for the performance.

Edited to say my post almost sounds as though you should expect to be disappointed, which is not what I meant!  :wacko:

Thanks Jacqueline.  Excellent idea.  Is he fantastic?

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I know it's not the same as seeing him live but you could also try seeing him in the cinema for Jonas Kaufmann: An Evening with Puccini on 11 February. Find where it is being shown here: http://jonaskaufmannpuccinifilm.com

You are a star, Pulcinella.  Have found a cinema (Salisbury) and booked a ticket.  Many thanks.

 

Oh to have been there that night in Italy!

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To the list above one should perhaps add the absence (through injury?) of Matthew Golding and the injury to his initial replacement Federico Bonelli.

 

They may not be as high profile as the singers/dancer mentioned by penelopesimpson but their inability to perform will undoubtedly have caused headaches for the AD.

Pretty sure Golding has/is dancing with Roberto Bolle in his And Friends Galas been a few photos/video on Twitter unless I am very much mistaken.
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Perhaps now the Young Artists give them more flexibility in finding replacements.

 

I've been to several performances where major roles have ended up being sung by YA replacements.  It started making me less keen on going, now that you mention it.

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Roberto Bolle regularly organises "Roberto Bolle and Friends Galas".  From this website, it looks as though the performances were in Turin:

 

http://robertobollefansandfriends.com/en/index.php/schedule

 

A couple more dates for 2016 are also on the schedule plus his regular appearances.

 

And his official website: http://www.robertobolle.com

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You are a star, Pulcinella.  Have found a cinema (Salisbury) and booked a ticket.  Many thanks.

 

Oh to have been there that night in Italy!

 

For those interested in this but unable to see at the cinema, there is also a dvd/blu ray of this concert that is available for pre-order on Amazon with a release date of February 26th.  (Bizarrely, my pre-order of the blu ray placed in October was delivered to me at the end of November, but they seem to have taken it off the market and scheduled a new release date for the end of Feb; perhaps they rethought the timing when they decided to have a run of this in cinemas.)

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This is an opera comment rather than a ballet one, but very relevant to the original topic of this thread...

 

It's not just Covent Garden.  Take for example four current examples of my own: my last two, and my next two, planned overseas opera trips.

 

Trip no.1 last April: booked a trip to see a particular singer in Cast 3 of a show that was triple-cast.  Let's call her Soprano A.  At a month's notice, Soprano A's first-cast counterpart (let's call her Soprano B ) dropped out.  Rather than replace her with new Soprano C, they moved Soprano A into Soprano B's dates and booked a new Soprano C to back-fill the vacancy, meaning that Soprano A was now not in a performance on any of the dates of my trip.  Fortunately, though at not inconsiderable expense, I was able to extend my trip so I could still see Soprano A (without whom I wouldn't have booked the trip in the first place).

 

Trip no.2 last July: booked a trip to see a particular singer. At a couple of months' notice it was announced that she was no longer in the show at all.  Cancelled my whole trip as for various reasons (not that the replacement wasn't a good-quality one) it made it no longer worth my while.  Ended up giving away my front-row seat for free.

 

Trip no.3, end of this month: booked a six-night trip for a double-cast show in which both leading sopranos and one leading tenor were of particular interest, with the intention of seeing each cast twice. Last month, the interesting leading man dropped out.  A couple of weeks ago, one of the interesting leading ladies also dropped out, and was replaced by somebody I'm not familiar with. Presumably because her replacement wasn't available for all of the necessary dates, they then also partially shuffled which nights the remaining leading lady from the original cast will be appearing (let's call her Soprano A again as it is indeed the same person named as such in Trip no.1), leaving only one night of my stay on which any favourite singer will be appearing at all.  I've since done what I did with Trip no.1, above, and paid to go for longer so I at least get to see that person twice.

 

Trip no.4, next month: this one's mainly a weekend to see a friend, but they've just lost their tenor as well...

 

Then there was the occasion in 2014 when I lost basically the whole opera cast I travelled for.  Between season announcement and the performance, five people pulled out, including all of the top three principals.  I found out two weeks in advance, decided to go anyway, and it was OK, but you know...

 

If Covent Garden is unlucky, so is everybody else - or maybe it's just me! :rolleyes::unsure:

Edited by RuthE
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Opera cast changes can be annoying, but are they really so surprising when singers are booked years in advance?

 

My next overseas opera trip is next month when I go to see Bartoli in Monte Carlo.  If she goes down with a winter virus as I did last year (heaven forbid), I will be disappointed but it's always a gamble and I accept that.   

 

The last time I saw Bartoli was last month in a programme with Villazon.  Mr V. had a bad cold and departed a little from the advertised programme, though mostly he sang well.  S**t happens.

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On the basic question about the ROH specifically, perhaps it's worth adding that Cojocaru will not now be dancing her performances with the ENB next week (Corsaire at the Coliseum, see the separate thread about Corsaire casting). Injury. Hope she's better soon.

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