Desperately Seeking Divas: English National Opera's CosÏ Loses Two Sopranos to Maternity Leave
Wednesday, March 09, 2005
Evening Standard [London]
By Luke Leitch
For an opera company to lose one of its leading ladies just before rehearsals begin is unfortunate. To lose two is downright catastrophic.
Nevertheless, this is the fate that has befallen the English National Opera's upcoming production of perennial Mozart favourite CosÏ fan tutte. But the reason for this unhappy exodus is the happiest of all. Both divas are expecting babies ó and they're ecstatic.
Star sopranos Giselle Allen and Stephanie Marshall have both bowed out of their roles as fickle sisters Fiordiligi and Dorabella to take maternity leave. But sadly for the ENO they found out almost simultaneously ó 18 months after being cast in CosÏ fan tutte.
Now ENO's put-upon casting director John Berry is struggling to fill the roles. He said: "It really is a big headache. Casting any Mozart role is difficult ó but casting the two lead roles with two weeks' notice is well-nigh impossible." Both singers were unavailable for comment but Mr. Berry said: "They are incredibly disappointed they can't do the opera ó but are obviously thrilled about being pregnant."
The first performance of Matthew Warchus's acclaimed production is set for 26 May and tickets are already on sale. But a partial solution has come up ó young Irish mezzo soprano Anne Marie Gibbons seems likely now to open CosÏ fan tutte.
Mr. Berry added: "You can't blame the two girls ó we are all very, very happy for them."
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