„Leider sind wir – für diese Jahreszeit nicht ungewöhnlich – von einer größeren Krankheitswelle betroffen, die zu mehreren Besetzungsänderungen geführt hat. So hat es auch Kammersänger Neil Shicoff erwischt – und wie sich heute Nachmittag herausgestellt hat, wird er bis Montag noch nicht fit sein, um die Vorstellung singen zu können. Unsere Bemühungen, einen entsprechenden Ersatz zu finden für diese schwere Partie, die nur wenige Tenöre beherrschen, haben letztlich leider zu keiner adäquaten und umsetzbaren Lösung geführt, sodass wir entschieden haben, den ‚Liebestrank‘ anstelle von ‚La Juive‘ anzusetzen. Wir wünschen Neil Shicoff eine gute Besserung und hoffen, dass er für die Vorstellung am Freitag, 27. Februar wieder gesund ist“, so Staatsoperndirektor Dominique Meyer.
No adequate and feasible replacement was to be found for this difficult role, which only few tenors have in their repertory. Knowing that Shicoff has always been famous for cancelling easily and that his voice has become even more „sensitive“ one might have thought about a cover for him before hand… But „La Juive“ was changed to „L´Elisir d´Amore“. So in „celebration“ of the cancelled „Juive“ in Vienna on Feb. 23rd we would like to honour Enrico Caruso, whose Éleazar was his last – some say also his greatest – new role. This is his performance schedule of his last season. Moving from Eleazar to Nemorino within 3 days, then Samson, Forza and, again, Juive all within a week. Then moving from Canio back to Nemorino (where he had to stop after the 1st act) and to Forza just two days later. Then his last two performances and seven months later he was dead.
La Juive Metropolitan Opera House; 11/15/1920 Opening Night
L’Elisir d’Amore Metropolitan Opera House; 11/18/1920
Samson et Dalila Metropolitan Opera House; 11/24/1920
La Forza del Destino Metropolitan Opera House; 11/27/1920
La Juive American Academy of Music, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; 11/30/1920
Samson et Dalila Metropolitan Opera House; 12/3/1920
Pagliacci Il Carillon Magico Metropolitan Opera House; 12/8/1920
L’Elisir D’Amore: Act I Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York; 12/11/1920 perf. not finished
La Forza del Destino Metropolitan Opera House; 12/13/1920
Samson et Dalila Metropolitan Opera House; 12/16/1920
La Juive Metropolitan Opera House; 12/24/1920 Enrico Caruso’s last performance
Caruso worked like a horse. He trusted his padrone, Gatti-Casazza, in every choice and let himself be used when and where he was needed. – And Gatti made ample use of that… He knew, whenever Caruso was cast the house would be full. This kind of schedule over years and years cannot be mastered without a solid technique and vocal control and probably – sad to say – without endamiging one´s health… Though the voice seems to have gotten heavy (he´s almost darker than De Luca though he tries to keep the voice light) for Nemorino in 1919 and one hears frequent and heavy breathing and some effort in the top, he still does justice to the part and meets the role´s vocal demands and shows some technical skill one sometimes missed in his earlier recordings. Although one might wish for more nuance, he is still much more nuanced than any average Nemorino on today´s stages.
update: update: For the second performance tonight, Neil Shicoff will be replaced by John Uhlenhopp……