Alfie Boe may allege the Royal Opera and ENO use microphones, but other singers are inclined to dismiss his claim as Boellocks.
Malena Ernman, whose parallel opera and pop careers make her something of an authority on amplification says on Twitter "For special effects yes. But for singing? It would be impossible without being discovered. There would have to be "critical" place in the theatre where you would hear both the natural and the amplified voice.. So I d say impossible."
Christopher Maltman, also on Twitter, says "Also not sure what inside info Mr Boe has but personally after 17yrs in major opera houses I've seen ZERO evidence of it anywhere. Just think of the acoustic problems of live ambient microphones."
An anonymous commenter on the previous post says "I have appeared as a soloist for several years at the ROH, and I can assure you - no microphones."
And I've had a couple of private emails from established soloists to similar effect - they think it would be impossible to amplify voices discreetly, and they've never come across it themselves.
(UPDATE - Stuart Skelton, who shared the stage with Alfie himself in ENO's 2010 Katya Kabanova, adds via Twitter "Not sure about Boe's info but my experience at ENO, with AB one one occasion as well as other houses has always been mic free.")
(UPDATE 2 - Joseph Calleja has started a debate on his Facebook page. He says "This is my 15th year in this art form and I have never witnessed any "secret" or "discreet" amplification in any opera house around the world. If such claims were true why do we so often read about how singers were "drowned" out by the orchestra? Also if some singers are amplified and some are not, what happens in duets when two singers are close to one another? Why do different singers have different volumes? Ridiculous claims by a colleague who should know much, much better," adding "the FACT that in 15 years of singing I never witnessed any kind of "in house" amplification is not an opinion but a solid fact. Opera singers go through a lot of training, sacrifices and preperation to be able to project their voices in big auditoriums without the aid of amplification and it is just not fair that someone would come up with such an outrageous claim."
Alan Held responds to Joseph "This kind of stuff drives me nuts. I also, have NEVER witnessed amplification with the exception of someone being amplified from backstage. The microphones one sees in the house are for recording for broadcast. I have wore a microphone when something is being broadcast for HD or for a DVD---but this is not "pushed" into the house." "And let me add---with singing so much Wagner, it would have been nice to have been amplified every now and then--but thank goodness I wasn't!!!")
So will Alfie come up with some solid evidence - or at least some specific instances where he believes voices have been amplified at the ROH and ENO? Or has he burned his operatic bridges once and for all?