Chosen extracts; "The careers of Alagna and Gheorghiu rocketed a decade ago. He was the hottest young tenor around, the destined successor to the Pavarotti-Domingo-Carreras generation, and was duly dubbed "the fourth tenor". She took the operatic world by storm in La Traviata under the late Georg Solti at Covent Garden in 1994 and seemed to be the lyric soprano the world had waited for since Sutherland's retirement. When the two married, they became the darlings of the opera houses, the record companies, opera-goers and the accountants. But they were rarely the darlings of the directors."
"Alagna's walkout from La Scala comes at a time when a lot of the glister has gone from the one-time golden couple. The previous Scala regime under Riccardo Muti fell out with Gheorghiu as early as 1997. The New York Met's recently retired general director, Joe Volpe, had a bust-up with her. Now it seems the soprano has fallen out with Covent Garden. Rumours that she was dropped from a coming production of Verdi's Don Carlos - because music director Antonio Pappano was so angered by her failure to turn up for rehearsals at this year's Tosca that he has declined to work with her again - have met flat denials. Covent Garden insists Gheorghiu decided to withdraw."
"Opera houses usually try to stop stories of demanding behaviour getting into the press. But the veil was lifted when Volpe fired the soprano Kathleen Battle from the Met in 1994, publicly citing her "unprofessional actions". (...) Battle's manager reminded Volpe that his predecessor was always known as the man who had fired Callas from the Met. Do you want to be known as the man who fired Battle, he demanded? Volpe had the perfect reply: "Kathy Battle is no Maria Callas.""
Thank you Martin Kettle. Very good article. And without drama. What a relief.