The legendary Italian soprano Mirella Freni has withdrawn from the entire run of "Trilogy: Domingo and Guests in Three Acts," an evening-length gala showcase that will be presented by the Washington National Opera beginning Sept. 24. Freni will be replaced by Sylvie Valayre.
"Trilogy" -- one act apiece from Umberto Giordano's "Fedora," Giuseppe Verdi's "Otello" and Franz Lehar's "The Merry Widow," all featuring tenor Placido Domingo, the opera's general director, in leading roles -- had originally been scheduled for five performances, but another night was added to the roster this summer. It will run at the Kennedy Center Opera House through Oct. 9.
"When the number of performances of this triple bill was increased, it became obvious to her that the new schedule interfered too much with previous commitments -- commitments that had already been compromised, to a degree, by the original five performances in Washington," the opera said in a statement explaining Freni's decision. "Rather than singing only a partial number of performances, she persuaded the company to let her withdraw completely."
Valayre has sung in Washington before, most recently in the title role of "Tosca" last spring and also in the title role of "Salome" in 2002. She has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera and the Lyric Opera of Chicago and at La Scala and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, in London.
"Trilogy" will also include soprano Barbara Frittoli in her debut with the Washington company as Desdemona in "Otello," and the Broadway player Christiane Noll and soprano Leslie Mutchler in "The Merry Widow." The selections from "Fedora" and "The Merry Widow" will be conducted by Eugene Kohn; the act from "Otello" will be conducted by the opera's music director, Heinz Fricke.