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April 27, 2010

Washington National Opera's 'Hamlet' undergoes another cast change

And I thought the Scottish Play was the cursed one. Turns out that "Hamlet" can be a bad luck inducer, too -- at least in its operatic version by Ambroise Thomas.

When this infrequently staged work made it to the Metropolitan Opera in March -- the first time it was presented there since 1897 -- starry soprano Natalie Desay dropped out of the cast a couple weeks before the opening.

Washington National Opera, which opens a production of "Hamlet" May 19, has been through it's own to-sing-or-not-to-sing troubles.

First to go, several weeks ago, was baritone Carlos Alvarez, who was to have sung the title role; Liam Bonner and Michael Chioldi will share that assignment.

On Tuesday came word that

soprano Diana Damrau, now pregnant, has had to withdraw from the role of Ophelia. She will be replaced by Elizabeth Futral.

Oh yes, then there's company general director Placido Domingo, who was to have conducted all performances. After he underwent cancer surgery recently, he decided, quite understandably, to cut back on some of his activities; he relinquished three of the seven "Hamlet" performances to Patrick Fournillier.

Got all that?


Posted by Tim Smith at 3:40 PM | | Comments (1)


I'm afraid if I name the tenor who I'm really looking forward to hearing in this production, the curse will strike him, too. (He was a fine Don Ottavio in WNO's last Don Giovanni.)

Better to keep the name to yourself, just to be safe. TIM

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About Tim Smith
Born and raised in Washington, D.C., I couldn't help but develop a keen interest in politics, but music, theater and visual art also proved great attractions. Music became my main focus after high school. I thought about being a cocktail pianist, but I hated taking requests, so I studied music history instead, earning a B.A. in that field from Eisenhower College (Seneca Falls, N.Y.) and an M.A. from Occidental College (Los Angeles). I then landed in journalism. After freelancing for the Washington Post and others, I was classical music critic for the Sun-Sentinel in South Florida, where I also contributed to NPR. I've written for the New York Times, BBC Music Magazine and other publications, and I'm a longtime contributor to Opera News. My book, The NPR Curious Listener's Guide to Classical Music (Perigee, 2002), can be found on the most discerning remainder racks.

I joined the Baltimore Sun as classical music critic in 2000 and, in 2009, also became theater critic, giving me the opportunity to annoy a whole new audience. In 2010, my original Clef Notes blog expanded to encompass a theatrical component -- how could I resist calling it Drama Queens? I hope you'll find both sides of this blog coin worth exploring and reacting to; your own comments are always welcome and valued (well, most of them, at least).

Think of this as your open-all-hours, cyber green room, where there's always a performer or performance to discuss, some news to digest, or maybe just a little good gossip to share.
Note: Tim Smith now writes about the fine arts at This blog will be kept in place as an archive for an indefinite period. Please visit the new location to get the latest Mid-Atlantic arts coverage.
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