The Royal Opera House has a habit of couching its artist withdrawals in evasive terms. A spat with the director becomes 'sudden illness', an unforeseen inability to hit the high Cs is 'recovery from infection'.
But, credit where credit's due, they've come clean about Jennifer Rowley's unsuitability for the part of Isabelle in Robert le diable. Let's hope this heralds a new era of more honest cast change announcements.
But one big question remains. Why's it taken so long for them to find out? The change was made just four days before opening. Is that when the decision was made, or were they just waiting for Patrizia Ciofi, the replacement, to complete her previous booking before announcing a fait accompli?
If it really was a last-minute swap, then why? Had no-one at Covent Garden heard Rowley's Musetta in Stefan Herheim's recent Oslo La bohème? Broadcast and DVD'd, so no excuse. Even if not, surely the weeks of rehearsal had dropped the odd clue that her voice is now 'more dramatic' (as they put it), or less agile (as I would) than the role requires. Were the music and casting decision-makers actually listening to the rehearsals, or at least getting feedback? Or were they too busy elsewhere?
Some commenters on the post below imagine the ROH announcement is some sort of sinister cover-up for Machiavellian manoeuverings. But from where I'm sitting, it looks like the only thing being covered up is incompetence.