Russian soprano Anna Netrebko has bowed out of an upcoming production of Faust at London's Royal Opera House, insisting she isn't the right fit for the role. The opera star, who recently performed at the Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in Sochi, Russia, has been rehearsing to play Marguerite in a revival of Charles Gounod's show in preparation of April's (13) opening.
However, the singer has since stepped down from the job and apologised for her withdrawal.
A statement released on Friday (28Feb14) reads: "I am so sorry to have to withdraw from the role of Marguerite in Faust. After much consideration and intensive preparation, I have come to the conclusion that the role is not right for me.
"I had been very much looking forward to debuting this role at the Royal Opera House and following it with further performances in Vienna (Austria) and Baden-Baden (Germany). Unfortunately, I must now withdraw from all these productions. I am very sad to be disappointing my fans in these cities and hope they will understand the difficult decision that I have had to make. However, I am very much looking forward to returning to The Royal Opera to perform with the company again in 2015."
A replacement for Netrebko has yet to be announced, although the rest of the line-up remains unchanged, with tenor Joseph Calleja in the title role and Bryn Terfel as Mephistopheles.
Russian leader Vladimir Putin's reported girlfriend, retired Olympic rhythmic gymnast Alina Kabaeva, was among the torchbearers who helped kickstart the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Winter Olympics on Friday (07Feb14). Other torchbearers included tennis star Maria Sharapova, wrestler Alexander Karelin and ice hockey icon Vladislav Tretiak. Opera diva Anna Netrebko performed the Olympic Anthem at the big launch.
Opera stars Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott have separated after six years together. The Russian soprano revealed on Monday (25Nov13) that she and bass-baritone Schrott had agreed to "amicably" end their romance, blaming "demanding schedules and the resulting constant time apart" for the break-up.
The couple has a five-year-old son, called Tiago.
Gay rights activists halted a performance of a Russian opera in New York City on Monday night (23Sep13) to protest in front of a star-studded opening night crowd which included Brooke Shields, Heather Graham and Diane Kruger. The Big Apple's Metropolitan Opera company launched the new season with a performance of Tchaikovsky's Eugene Onegin, but the show at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan was targeted by campaigners.
A picket line formed outside the Metropolitan Opera House, with activists protesting against anti-gay laws in Russia, and the demonstration continued inside the building when around 12 activists burst into the auditorium during the performance.
The group singled out Russian performer Anna Netrebko and conductor Valery Gergiev for particular criticism, shouting, "Anna, your silence is killing Russian gays! Valery, your silence is killing Russian gays!"
An opera-goer tells New York Post gossip column Page Six, "Eight to 12 protesters (started yelling from the balconies,) 'Down with (Russian President Vladimir) Putin' and, 'Free Russian gays!'... No one expected it. There was screaming and yelling coming from multiple balconies. People started booing... They stopped the opera and guards had to rush in."
The show restarted after the protesters were removed. No arrests were made.
Peter Gelb, the general manager of the Metropolitan Opera, previously commented on plans to picket the company's opening night: "We respect the right of activists to picket our opening night and we realise that we've provided them with a platform to further raise awareness about serious human rights issues abroad."
Opera great Placido Domingo returned to the stage for the first time since his recent hospitalisation on Tuesday (06Aug13). The tenor underwent treatment in his native Spain in July (13) after suffering a pulmonary embolism, but the 72 year old performed in a concert version of Verdi's Giovanna d'Arco at the Salzburg Festival in Austria, alongside soprano Anna Netrebko.