Director: Edoardo Müller
- Luciano Pavarotti (Tonio)
- June Anderson (Marie)
- Bernard Fitch (Hortentius)
- Sarah Walker (Marquise of Berkenfield)
- Michel Tremkpont (Sergeant Sulpice)
Metropolitan Opera House.November 9, 1995.IN HOUSE
Marquise of Berkenfield….Sarah Walker
Sergeant Sulpice………..Michel Trempont [Debut]
Duchesse of Krakentorp…..Muriel Costa-Greenspon [Debut]
Dancing Master………….Ralph Di Rienzo
Pavarotti Walks Out Before an Opera Ends
By NORIMITSU ONISHI
Published: November 09, 1995
When Luciano Pavarotti reclaimed the role of Tonio in Donizetti’s “Fille du
Regiment” — a part that carried him to stardom 22 years ago when he tossed
off nine high C’s at the end of Act I — it was a risky move. The role of
Tonio, the heartsick Tyrolean peasant who falls in love with Marie, is
considered a difficult role for any tenor, but especially so for someone
who just turned 60, as Mr. Pavarotti did last month.
Last night, at the Metropolitan Opera, the tenor stumbled on the role that
he had not sung since 1973.
In the aria “Pour Mes Amis,” Mr. Pavarotti missed the first high C,
eliciting some gasps from the audience. He then took the rest of the aria
down an octave.
He did not return for the Act I curtain call, and did not appear in Act II.
Joseph Volpe, the Met’s general manager, announced that Mr. Pavarotti had
begun last night’s performance with a low fever, and was unable to finish
the opera because of phlegm on his vocal chords.
Mr. Pavarotti is scheduled to sing the Saturday afternoon performance,
which is to be broadcast, as well as four other performances in the series,
said Charles C. Sheek, a spokesman for the Met.
Tonio’s aria at the end of Act I presents the toughest challenges in an
already difficult role. The aria includes nine high C’s, and many tenors do
not even attempt them, choosing a lower version written by Donizetti.
When Mr. Pavarotti sang the notes in 1973, driving Met audiences delirious,
he quickly became known as the “King of the High C’s.”
But most voices, including Mr. Pavarotti’s, lose their top notes with age.
So the question preceding the current run of “La Fille” was whether Mr.
Pavarotti still had the high C’s.
The tenor had described Tonio as a “role for a young man” with the “best of
his body and power” and a “wild animal voice.”
“I choose to sing this role again for my birthday because I think I am
crazy,” he said in an interview before the first performance on Saturday
evening. “I am a challenger. This is one of the reasons so many people come
to see my performances: they know I am on a high wire and I can always fall
At the Saturday evening performance, he was able to stay on the high wire.
But last night he tripped over the first high note.
But except for the few gasps, audience members were generous and
respectful. They remained quiet otherwise, and some even yelled bravo.
Mr. Pavarotti’s replacement, the French tenor Jean-Luc Viala, sang Act II.
In his solo curtain call, Mr. Viala flung his arms wide, shrugged his
shoulders and cocked his head to the right. Some audience members laughed,
many cheered bravo, and he received loud applause for almost two minutes.