From Development server
28 September 2007

Lyric Opera of Chicago Fires Angela Gheorghiu from Upcoming Bohème Performances

Lyric Opera of Chicago has fired soprano Angela Gheorghiu, who was to have sung the role of Mimì for six of the company's upcoming performances of La Bohème, Lyric Opera general director William Mason announced today.

"Miss Gheorghiu has missed six of ten rehearsals, including the piano dress rehearsal and both staging rehearsals with the orchestra," Mason said. "She missed one of the most critical stage-orchestra rehearsals when she left the city for New York without permission, a direct violation of her contract," Mason said in a press release issued by the company today. Gheorghiu also reportedly failed to attend fittings for the new costumes that she had demanded for the performances.

"It is with tremendous regret and sadness that we are compelled to take this action," Mason said, "but Miss Gheorghiu's actions have shown total disregard for Lyric Opera's dedicated personnel and for her fellow artists. Were we to accommodate Miss Gheorghiu's behavior, we would be doing so at their expense, and at the cost of undermining Lyric's commitment to our patrons to produce only finely crafted performances of impeccable quality. We cannot and will not make those compromises."

For her part, Gheorghiu issued a response through her press representative today: "My husband Roberto is singing two major roles at the Metropolitan Opera.   I asked Lyric Opera to let me go to New York for two days to be with him and they said 'no,'" reads the statement. "But I needed to be by Roberto's side at this very important moment. I have sung Bohème hundreds of times, and thought missing a few rehearsals wouldn't be a tragedy. It was impossible to do the costume fitting at the same time I was in New York. Coming back from New York, I caught a cold - a most unfortunate coincidence. I saw the company doctor when I returned and he prescribed antibiotics.  I just wanted to get well.  My colleagues knew about this and were supportive. Of course, I'm very sad that this has happened as I was very eager to sing in Chicago."

Gheorghiu's husband, tenor Roberto Alagna, is currently performing the title role in Roméo et Juliette as well as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly at the Metropolitan Opera. Gheorghiu is scheduled to sing the role of Mimì in the Metropolitan Opera's production of La Bohème later this season.

Gheorghiu's understudy, Elaine Alvarez, will replace the Romanian soprano for the performances on October 1, 4, 7, 10, 13 and 16, in what will be her company debut.

Alvarez, a frequent performer at Oper Leipzig, will sing three leading roles at that company this season: Violetta in La Traviata, Corinna in a new production of Il Viaggio a Reims and Mimì in La Bohème. Stateside, Alvarez created the role of the Comtesse de Breville in the 2006 world premiere of Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good at Glimmerglass Opera, where she also appeared as Barena in Jenůfa. The Cuban-American soprano, who recently presented a recital under the aegis of the Marilyn Horne Foundation, also won an award at the Lotte Lenya Competition for Singers, was a national finalist in the 2004 and 2006 George London Foundation Awards and was recently a grand finalist in Plácido Domingo's Operalia competition. A graduate of Manhattan School of Music, Alvarez has also been a resident artist at Marilyn Horne's program at Santa Barbara's Music Academy of the West and Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts.

More information can be found at Lyric Opera of Chicago, the Chicago Tribune and AngelaGheorghiu.com

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