In a long interview with Corriere della Sera, Roberto Alagna, triumphant after the massive sales of his Sicilian folk songs CD, the other day let the readers know a few interesting, lesser-known facts:
- He always sings in the shower; Angela Gheorghiu never does.
- A French/Italian dual citizen, he has never voted in his life, not even once.
- He describes his relationship with Scala GM Stéphane Lissner, the same guy he fought a legal battle with after leaving the stage mid-performance and then getting fired from la Scala's 2006 Aida (all the info about the sad story here in Opera Chic's archives under the "Alagna walk-off" tag) as "ottima", "excellent".
He has been offered, he says, by la Scala, parts in the upcoming Carmen (the 2009-2010 season opener conducted by Barenboim) and in Simon Boccanegra (where he would have appeared alongside a Placido Domingo in full baritonal mode) but the turned Lissner down.
Because, he told the Milanese paper, "I still feel a lot of hostility. In Italy, I've never sung with Angela, not once. They said too many mean things about us, people in the end will believe them".
Interestingly, he was supposed to sing in Italy with his wife in a pretty high-profile situation, Pagliacci under Muti in Ravenna, 1998 -- when Muti asked a badly-prepared Gheorghiu to go study the score, she walked off (technically, she suddendly got sick, sending a doctor's note) and quite magically Alagna got immediately sick, too -- sending in another doctor's note.
To replace the then-newlyweds, Muti had to call in Sergey Larin from Salzburg where he was rehearsing another opera, and a young Svetla Vassileva to replace Gheorghiu. The snubbed Italian maestro, in a story that has remained famous, got so angry about the whole situation that he was struck with kidney stones and was taken to the emergency room by an ambulance the morning before la prima.
He was regularly on the podium, as per his contract, that very night.