Iron Mezzo: Elizabeth Bishop to Sing Two Roles in One Day at Met

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Elizabeth Bishop is expected to join the few who have sung two major roles in a single day at the Metropolitan Opera.

On Saturday, after playing Mère Marie at a matinee performance of Poulenc’s Dialogues des Carmélites at the company, Bishop will not spend the evening resting her vocal cords. Instead, the American mezzo-soprano is to return to the Met to fill in as Fricka in an 8 pm performance of Wagner’s Das Rheingold. That role was to be played by Stephanie Blythe, who the Met said is ill; Bishop is her designated cover.

Bishop has swooped in as a last-minute replacement before, most recently for an ill Susan Graham as Dido in Berlioz’s Les Troyens in January.

A Met spokesman said that just a handful of singers have tackled two leading roles in a single day for the company. In 2008, Italian tenor Marcello Giordani sang a matinee of the title role in Berlioz’s La Damnation di Faust and an evening performance as Pinkerton in Madama Butterfly.

The era of general manager Rudolph Bing also saw a few double headers. In 1952, Eleanor Steber sang Desdemona in an Otello matinee and returned to sing Fiordiligi in a Così fan tutte evening performance. In 1962, the baritone Frank Guarrera began the day with Don Alfonso in a Così fan tutte matinee and capped it off with Ping in an evening Turandot. And the baritone Walter Cassel, in 1958, sang in Tristan und Isolde in the matinee and Salome in the evening.

Bishop's matinee performance in Dialogues des Carmélites will be broadcast live on WQXR.