In the Tosca performance on April 16th, which was streamed around the world, Angela Gheorghiu made a very late entrance after Jonas Kaufmann had repeated „E lucevan le stelle“. The video has been circulating around the internet in the past two days. One can see Kaufmann´s look of bewilderment and hear his hesitant attack of „AH! (getting ready to sing „franchigia a Floria Tosca“) – instead he sang sottovoce „ah non abbiamo soprano“. Then a short silence, then Kaufmann adressing the audience almost amusedly: „I am speechless, but… right now, I am getting a sign that we now are „allowed“ to go on… sorry…“
These are the facts. All kinds of speculations about why and how are circulating in the internet.
– She did it on purpouse, because already after the first performance, where Kaufmann had repeated the aria, too – she was fuming.
– She missed her entrance unintentionally, it was no more than a mishap, because she counted on another ovation for Kaufmann after his encore, not thinking that Lopez-Cobos (who had replaced Mikko Franck in the last minute) would move right on after the encore…
– This was a kind of „publicity-gag“ – either calculated or provoked by the Wiener Staatsoper or at least deliberately taking the risk of letting it happen (maybe following some kind of ultimatum by Gheorghiu?) – knowing that this would be streamed worldwide and getting some attention…
This last version seems to me the least plausible one.
Version two would mean, that once Kaufmann had granted the „bis“ (which to tell the truth, the public was not exactly FORCING on him: There were some single cries of „bis“, but far from many. The public just did not stop applauding), she would have walked SO FAR far away from the point where she´d have to enter the stage, that she was not able to hear, that
– Kaufmann had finished his encore
– that there was no applause following it
– and that the orchestra had continued to play?
Plus knowing that this will be a live-stream, she is taking the risk of missing her entrance in order to have a short break? Come on….. That does not fit Gheorghiu´s sense of professionalism – provided everything is well for her. – Which it was not……
… and which brings us to version one: that she was fuming after Kaufmann´s „bis“ in the first performance is a fact. She even is said to have stated, that for this one time she would tolerate this, but… My theory goes like this: Maybe she stated some kind of ultimatum regarding a potential „bis“ in the upcoming performance – maybe not.
Fact is, that she in the performance on Saturday – I was in the house – she was not good. While Kaufmann was not in his best vocal condition, but still solid and all in all secure and Terfel´s singing was loud and VERY much on the rough side, Gheorghiu sounded tight and nervous. Already in the first act there were several strage changes of tempi. She missed several cues, came in early or late and especially in the second act (when she was conversing with Cavaradossi through closed doors, for example) sounded unconcentrated and unfocussed. Then followed a strangely hurried „Vissi d´arte“. She also was drowned more than once by the full orchestra and Terfel´s roaring Scarpia. I am sure, she knew that she was far from her best. – Apart from the fact, that Tosca is not really for her, exposing her weakness in the lower register and lack of an expansive, full top. Was she offended beforehand, that while Covent Garden gave her a premiere (with exactly the same cast in 2011), here, she had to put up with a prodction dating from 1958? In any case, in my opinion, she knew, that she was not singing well. Kaufmann again repeating the aria probably finished her off – also given that there was not exactly a storm of „bis“-calls. She probably stamped off to her dressing room – or wherever. Probably she either relied on somebody to call her in time for her entrance (which maybe did not happen) or in her rage refused to go back on stage until somebody succedeed in bringing her back. Once she was back on stage, however, she did try to make up for the incident by singing passionately in the duet and at the curtain call ostentatiously embracing Kaufmann in front of the public.
So – how much Diva-behaviour can a Diva afford? What is still tolerable and where is the limit?