Anna Netrebko and Erwin Schrott have withdrawn from their long-booked 2011 New Year's Eve and 30 December concerts at Dresden Semperoper, citing insufficient preparation time.
Having successfully stepped into last year's Dresden concerts with less than a week's notice, the excuse is an unexpected one.
They apparently hope the programme of of Franz Lehar operetta highlights can be rescheduled at a later date. That's a grain of comfort to ticket holders for the long sold out shows.
But the solution won't help the ZDF channel. They're due to broadcast the New Year's Eve concert in fierce competition with rivals ARD, who've snaffled the Berlin Phil. It's not clear at this stage whether ZDF had finalised contractual arrangements with Netrebko and Schrott.
Their replacements are Angela Denoke and Ana Maria Labin.