**To read the breaking news of tenor Giuseppe Filianoti's withdrawal from the lead in tomorrow (Sunday) night's premiere of Don Carlos at la Scala scroll down or click here.**
These last few months Opera Chic has been trying to keep an open mind re: how good a choice Giuseppe Filianoti was as Don Carlo for la Scala's premiere, despite her many serious doubts.
Why? OC is on the record as a Filianoti fan -- a beautiful voice, a sensitive interpretazione, intelligent phrasing, talent and heart (OC also couldn't find one colleague who spoke badly of Filianoti as a person, a rare occurence in this most backstabbing of businesses -- the man seems indeed to be a good man).
And only six months ago Opera Chic heard him live, as Tito -- not exactly Verdi Grand Opera -- and that's what she had to say:
"Filianoti is 33."
"He pushed hard his notes, all throat, and the sound became the kind of strained voice you'd think would make him bright red in the face. Act II, Scene XI, Tito's aria, "Se all'impero, amici Dei" was pretty scary on the arpeggio, and Abbado slowed down the orchestra. But Filianoti, hit each and every note, and made it strikingly obvious."
Why would la Scala, with all their troubles, choose someone not exactly equipped by nature -- vocally -- to tackle at least at this stage in his career and life, the role of Don Carlo, a very difficult beast to tame lately for lyric tenors in trouble.
Because a year ago La Scala did alienate -- then fight with -- a much more rational choice for the role, Marcelo Alvarez, who had agreed to do Chenier and Don Carlo here in Milan. Until he felt dissed, and canceled. Opening the door for the Filianoti casting.
So, is it all just an accident -- like, Filianoti caught the flu this morning?
Is it all Filianoti's fault, that he was maybe barely prepared? That's what those who need to leave the Scala management off the hook will tell you. For all his post-mid-2007 vocal problems, Filianoti comes prepared. He always has. And trying to blame all this on a simple "abbassamento di voce" when this kid has been in trouble throughout the rehearsals? Just bad form.
Was the Scala management prepared?
After barely escaping a strike that would have hit the 12/7 traditional prima for the first time since it's inception almost a half century ago, they now find themselves with an enormously embarrassing cancellation 24 hours before a premiere televised worldwide.
They can only pray that either Filianoti's understudy Neill is good -- a star is born? Maybe -- or that tomorrow night those snarky loggionisti up there decide to have mercy on the understudy who got shot out of obscurity like a human cannonball. A sold-out la Scala, viewers on two different European satellite channels -- Arte and Classica -- and people following the live feed in HD in cinemas all over the world will be watching, and listening.
Opera Chic, obviously, will be there in the opera house, and you won't.