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Alex Ross reviews last-minute cast changes in the Met Tristan

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I know that a number of us have seen the Met's Tristan und Isolde run, either at the theater or in their HD-Live simulcast last weekend. Rarely in opera history has there been so much last-minute difficulty with casting: 3 substitute Tristans, 2 Isoldes, and a dramatic switch in singers in the middle of Act II.

Alex Ross's wonderful review of all events appears in this week's New Yorker:


Whether or not [Gary] Lehman [the replacement Tristan] and [Janice] Baird [the middle-of-the-scene sub for Voight's Isolde] go on to have major careers at the Met, they joyously upended, for at least one evening, the company's carefully tended star system. As Gelb's Met lays greater emphasis on marketing stars, it shouldn't forget the primitive thrill of the unexpected, which causes the most devoted fans to return night after night.

Was anyone there? Have you experienced something similar?

P.S. The performance we saw last Saturday had Voight, back in good health and voice, and Robert Dean Smith, flown in from Europe for the occasion. Smith, especially, was wonderful, even though he did not know the production. (During one of the intermissions, we saw him being led through the staging of the next act by a stage director.

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