The Alagna Affair

The internet is abuzz with comment and commentary about Roberto Alagna and his La Scala walkout. It’s all great fun. Here’s a selection of some of what’s being said (follow the links for the full article) —

From comments he made in interviews, Alagna gave indications he was well aware about what was being said about him online as well as in the press. So when he made his entrance Sunday night, he looked wary and nervous, very much like someone who wished he were somewhere else.
The Alagna Performance: An Eyewitness Account
MusicalAmerica.com

Alagna didn’t try very hard. At the second performance in the run the boos came early, just after his first aria, Celeste Aida. And Alagna’s only response was to give a sarcastic salute and walk off, leaving the understudy to leap into Franco Zeffirelli’s production wearing jeans and a T-shirt.
Outrageous behaviour from the Milanese mob? If you venture into the lions’ den, prepare to get bitten. For all Alagna’s sad back-pedalling since the explosion — “my throat was closed off . . . I couldn’t even speak a sound” — the overriding impression is that he just couldn’t cope with the criticism. And so he did the unforgivable: he fled.
Relax, Roberto. Boos are part of the game
The Times, London

Those who work […] with Roberto Alagna and Angela Gheorghiu [are] less [than] ecstatic. The couple, self-absorbed and acting as if by divine right, treated colleagues haughtily and assistants like dirt. They were banned twice from the Metropolitan Opera in New York and, backstage behaviour apart, never aroused a fervour to match their hype. Gheorghiu once walked out of a Carmen over a wig dispute; she cut Tosca rehearsals at Covent Garden last summer, ahead of an insipid performance. The pair have registered their names as trademarks to kill off independent fanzines. Associates refer to them as Posh and Becks or, in Jonathan Miller’s appellation, Bonny and Clyde. Some say the only opera they should be singing is Macbeth. This weekend the scales finally fell and the opera world turned its back on the crested pair.
Stop the opera, I want to get off
Norman Lebrecht, La Scena Musicale

So Roberto Alagna walked out on La Scala, writes Manuela Hoelterhoff. La Scala is hostile territory. “Baiting singers is part of the La Scala experience, though the recent makeover of the theater eliminated the standing room once occupied by La Scala’s polarizing claques.”
Bravo Alagna! Ban on Booed Star Is Absurd
Bloomberg

The world prefers its opera stars to be divine monsters. And opera’s so-called “golden couple”, Alagna and his wife Angela Gheorghiu, have become increasingly willing to oblige. Management are driven mad by the demands of the Burton and Taylor of the operatic world, but they know the duo are a bonanza at the box office. Both sides ramp up the process: the top houses compete furiously for the stars’ services; the stars become ever more outrageous in their behaviour. And so it goes on, until something snaps.
A tantrum too far
The Guardian

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