The New York Times, APRIL 18, 2016
Tosca’ Pauses When a Diva Misses Her Cue on Vienna Stage
Was it a stunning diva moment or an innocent mishap?

Angela Gheorghiu, the Romanian soprano, was singing the title role in Puccini’s “Tosca” in a starry production at the Vienna State Opera on Saturday when she very conspicuously missed her entrance in the third act. That left her co-star, Jonas Kaufmann, perhaps the most sought-after tenor in the world, awkwardly alone onstage as minutes ticked by.

“Non abbiamo il soprano,” or, “We don’t have a soprano,” Mr. Kaufmann sang in Puccini-like strains before the opera ground to halt and he broke character and asked the audience to excuse them, in German. The opera began again, and Ms. Gheorghiu entered.

But the back story was intriguing. Mr. Kaufmann had gotten such rapturous applause at an earlier performance in the run that he sang a rare encore of the aria “E lucevan le stelle,” something Ms. Gheorghiu has indicated in the past that she disapproves of. It was right after Mr. Kaufmann sang another encore of the aria on Saturday that she left him alone onstage.

André Comploi, a spokesman for the opera house, said in an email that it did not appear to be an intentional slight. He said that when Ms. Gheorghiu realized that Mr. Kaufmann would be repeating the aria, she returned to her dressing room. The confusion, he said, stemmed from the fact that there was no pause for applause after the encore, as there had been at the previous performance, and that apparently made Ms. Gheorghiu late for her entrance.

Representatives for Ms. Gheorghiu did not respond to an email seeking comment.

Ms. Gheorghiu has been accused of prima donna behavior in the past. She once balked at wearing a blond wig while singing the part of Micaela in Franco Zeffirelli’s production of Bizet’s “Carmen” during a Metropolitan Opera tour of Japan. That led Joseph Volpe, who was then the company’s general manager, to tell her that “the wig goes on, with or without you.”

In the next performance the wig went on without her. But for the following performances, she and the wig both appeared.

 back top