5. Leonard Slatkin’s attempt to conduct the Met’s 2010 production of La Traviata
On April 1, 2010, conductor Leonard Slatkin withdrew from the remaining performances of the Met’s La Traviata. His withdrawal was due to a disastrous opening night caused by his out of sync conducting. Slatkin, who was not even slightly familiar with La Traviata, was obviously aware that he was not prepared because he had earlier posted this statement on his website: “With more than two hours of music, perfection is not a goal. It never should be.” (let’s hope he never has to conduct any of Wagner’s five hour marathons!). However, the million dollar question is: How can a man who makes his living in the world of opera not be familiar with La Traviata?
4. The Met’s decision to revive Luc Bondy’s production of Tosca despite its disastrous premier
On the opening night of the Met’s 2009-2010 season, expectations were high for Luc Bondy’s new production of Tosca that would replace Franco Zeffirelli’s famous production. Bondy’s production was met with a chorus of boos so loud that the management was forced to bring down the curtain. All during the 2009-2010 season, the house’s management waffled over whether or not to scrap Bondy’s production and bring back Zeffirelli’s. However, the Met has announced that, during their 2010-2011 season, Bondy’s production will receive 12 more performances (some people never learn!).
3. Rolando Villazon’s decision to waste his talent and time working for Popstar to Operastar
When tenor Rolando Villazon finally recovered from his “vocal crisis”, he decided to make his comeback into the music world by working as a judge and mentor on the TV show Popstar to Operastar. For those who are fortunate enough to never have heard of it, Popstar to Operastar showcases attempts by Rolando Villazon and Katherine Jenkins to make pop singers sing opera. The show might as well change its name to “Cruel and Unusual Punishment“ because, not only does it cause permanent vision and hearing damage to any opera fans who watch it, but also, nearly every pop singer who has been on it has been visibly uncomfortable. If Mr. Villazon feels such a great call to help singers, one would think that he could try mentoring some of the world’s many young opera singers.
2. Dragana Jugovic’s attempt the sing Carmen despite having three sheets to the wind
Over the years, there have been many cases of opera singers trying to perform despite being a bit drunk. However, nobody will ever match mezzo-soprano Dragana Jugovic’s 2007 performance of Carmen where she was so drunk she could hardly keep standing. Unfortunately for her, the entire episode was caught on video: www.youtube.com/watch
1. Roberto Alagna’s unprofessional behavior at La Scala in December of 2006
Teatro alla Scala is the world’s most notoriously difficult opera house. Singers from Montserrat Caballe to Luciano Pavarotti to Renee Fleming have had their performances booed by the temperamental crowd. However, the singers typically behave in a professional manner by continuing the performance and later trying to correct their mistakes.
On December 7, 2006, professionalism went out the window when, after receiving a few boos, tenor Roberto Alagna shook his fist at the audience and walked off the stage. Oh, by the way, he was only 20 minutes into the performance. When he was later questioned about his actions, he claimed that he was suffering from hypoglycemia and he couldn’t understand why his understudy, Antonello Palombi, was allowed to sing the rest of the performance. Alagna later changed his story by saying he had no idea that La Scala was a difficult house. To this day, Alagna has never taken responsibility for his actions.