Mit dürren Worten kündigte Katharina Wagner an, dass Roberto Alagna, heißersehnter Tenor für den neuen Lohengrin in Bayreuth Ende Juli 2018, die Rolle zurückgegeben hat. Was Fans und Sachverständige schon vorher raunten: Er hat sich verkalkuliert. Eine lange Strecke von Samson und anderen Partien (zudem Filmaufnahmen für einen Otello) zuvor ließ nicht gerade auf eine ausreichend intensive Vorbereitung auf die Partie schließen, an der bislang vor allem in sprachlicher Hinsicht alle Südeuropäer und Latinos gescheitert sind (einschließlich Domingos hochdiskutablem Schwanenritter). Im französischen Rundfunk France Musique gab Alagna am 2. Juni 2018 dem Journalisten Stephane Grant ein Interview zu dieser Entscheidung, das wir in seiner englischen Übersetzung der facebook Seite des Sängers entnahmen. Mit Halévy möchte man sagen: Il ne chante pas (Lohengrin). Quel dommage! G. H.
What is your state of mind a few hours after the announcement of this cancellation? I’m sad, but relieved. I worked like crazy, the word is not exaggerated: I think I have never worn out a score as much as that of Lohengrin! But it’s true: I ran out of time, and I managed to memorize only half of the work. It was inconceivable for me to arrive in Bayreuth on Monday, for the first rehearsals, without knowing perfectly the whole role. This is not the role in itself that is the problem: with the score, I could sing it tomorrow! And I hope to be able to perform this Lohengrin as soon as possible, why not in concert version next season, in Paris, with a nice cast. I will propose it … I like the role; and even against all odds, I fell completely in love with this score. Believe me, I will make my utmost to succeed in singing it very quickly! I think I can even say that it should accompany me for several years. Today, giving up Bayreuth and this Lohengrin is a painful decision to make: I hate to cancel, and when I accept a project, I really become fully committed to carry it through. But I really think it’s the wisest decision.
You say „sad, but relieved“ … Is the share of sadness also due to having to give up your debut in Bayreuth? Of course! I had accepted this invitation to Bayreuth after declining it three times, and I was extremely honored by the confidence that the festival shown to me. I also spoke at length with Katharina Wagner, the co-director of the festival: she was very understanding with me, as well as Christian Thielemann who will conduct these performances. The door is not closed with Bayreuth, it is not impossible that I can sing it next year. I signed a three-year contract with the festival. If I really feel that the role suits me – as I think – and if I manage to master it perfectly, then yes, I’ll go to Bayreuth. Today, I feel sorry for putting them in trouble, but I really tried to go to the end of my strength, studying continuously, including during the intermission of the shows. And sometimes, perhaps, at the risk of endangering some of the performances I have sung in recent months, including my role in Samson et Dalila. With my friend conductor Frédéric Chaslin, we run through the score twice in a row … But if I tell you today that I am relieved, it is because the countdown had begun: and it was absolutely inconceivable to arrive in the Wagnerian temple knowing only half of the work, and putting in an tricky position all my partners – the conductor, of course, Anja Harteros too, who often sang the role of Elsa, and all the others. I simply admit it: the work that remains to be done is today beyond my strength …
You say you learn from it for the future: you have to reserve a lot of time – and certainly more than you have had during this season – to prepare such a heavy role-debut … Yes indeed. For twenty years, I have almost no break. My holidays were the Chorégies d’Orange! And so, it was not a real vacation for me, since I worked … and that I followed up with a new season! Today, I need to breathe. The break that I made last summer allowed me to make a fantastic season, including my first Samson in Vienna and Paris, the revival of Otello, Calaf in Turandot, Adriana Lecouvreur, the recording of a new album that will be released in the Autumn … And mid-August, I will be at the Metropolitan Opera in New York to start the rehearsals of Samson et Dalila, before a new season that also promises to be extremely intense. So, canceling this Lohengrin, I admit that I have overloaded my schedule. I probably also thought that I will memorize the role more easily …
A role and a score with which you say that you fell in love? Yes, and yet Wagner was not a repertoire that appealed to me especially. I did not „hear“ my voice, as in other works, and in other languages, where I immediately know how my voice could flow. But while studying it, I just realized the beauty of this music. I would almost say its beautiful simplicity. I was even surprised myself! It’s a Belcantist music … The words flow like gold in your mouth, and we hear that Wagner knew the tenor voice extremely well.
Do you regret making this decision to cancel a little late? No, because I went all the way. And the festival knows it. One of my mistakes may have been to get involved in these performances of Trouvère these last days at the Opéra Bastille. Not doing them would certainly have given me time to work. But I always try to please everyone, you know it’s a bit my weakness! No doubt it would be necessary sometimes to be more reasonable, or more selfish … To think more about myself. Today, once again, I very much regret having to cancel the Bayreuth debut. I’m sorry for the festival and the audience … But it’s the wisest decision.
(Foto oben: Roberto Alagna jüngst als Verdis Manrico an der Pariser Bastille/ Foto © Photo: Charles Duprat / Opéra National de Paris; in der Produktion von Alex Ollé und unter der Leitung von Maurizio Benini sangen im Juni/ Juli 2018/ zudem Sondra Radvanovsky, Ainita Rachvelishvilli, Zeliko Lucic und Marcelo Alvarez. In der Tenorpartie trat in späteren Vorstellungen Netrebko-Gatte Yusif Eyvazov auf.)