Anna Netrebko, the glamorous Russian soprano, has cancelled her debut recital at Carnegie Hall on October 26, citing vocal fatigue from her recent string of performances in Anna Bolena at the Metropolitan Opera.
This is the second time Netrebko has called off her Carnegie Hall recital debut. The first was to take place in March 2006 but she cancelled it four months earlier, stating that she did not feel "artistically ready” to perform on the stage.
Netrebko gave seven performances as Donizetti’s ill-fated Tudor queen at the Met, the last on Tuesday -- eight days ahead of her recital. She was to have presented songs by Rimsky-Korsakov and Tchaikovsky, accompanied by the pianist Elena Bashkirova.
Earlier this month in The Greene Space, Netrebko told WQXR's Naomi Lewin that Anna Bolena was the toughest role she has yet taken on. When asked about her Carnegie recital, Netrebko expressed surprise. "Oh yeah, that's right," she said, laughing. "It's October, right? Oh, that's right now." She added: "This program I know very well. I have sung it in many countries and it's a very beautiful program."
In a statement issued by Carnegie Hall on Friday Netrebko said, “I love this program of music from my home country and no one is more disappointed and frustrated than me that I won’t be able to perform for New York audiences next week. I apologize for any inconvenience this has caused and am deeply appreciative of everyone’s understanding of this difficult situation.”
Joan Lader, a voice therapist who works with singers with injured voices, said that any number of factors might prompt a cancellation. Seven performances of Anna Bolena “could be fatiguing even if your technique is superb,” she said. “She could have felt that she was overcommitted. Maybe she was too hyper and couldn’t sleep. She’s a pretty strong steady singer.” Lader added that eight days is usually enough recovery time, though an ailment such as a cold could prolong fatigue.
Peak Woo, a professor of otolaryngology at the Mount Sinai Medical School who works with singers, concurred. "Singing at the Met is probably one of the most strenuous things on the vocal fold," he noted. "It’s a lot like running a marathon when you sing three to five hours like that. When I saw the schedule I thought, that’s pretty aggressive.
"If she’s been singing healthy perhaps a week [of recovery] is enough but if say it’s swollen and she’s been singing hard on it, sometimes a week is not enough."
Netbreko appears on some of the world's major opera stages and frequently tours a concert program with her husband, baritone Erwin Schrott. This spring, she cancelled a series of performances of Pergolesi's Stabat Mater which were to take place in France and Germany, citing illness.
Carnegie Hall said ticket buyers would receive refunds.