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Pavarotti Cancels Third ‘Daughter’

November 11, 1995

NEW YORK (AP) _ The common cold, no respecter of superstars, came between Luciano Pavarotti and his high-note-loving public Saturday afternoon.

The tenor and Metropolitan Opera president Joseph Volpe had hoped Friday that a miracle would clear up Pavarotti’s cold. But Saturday morning the cold was worse, Volpe told the audience seated to hear ``The Daughter of the Regiment,″ with its eight high Cs in the first-act tenor aria.

The audience groaned with dismay when a spotlight hit the still-closed gold curtain and Volpe walked out. But his announcement that Jean-Luc Viala, a tenor from Paris, would sing disarmed the audience.

``I know all of you are very, very disappointed about Luciano not singing but you are no more disappointed than he is,″ Volpe said.

A buzz, but not an angry one, followed the announcement. There was much applause all afternoon.

Audience interest had been especially high because Pavarotti had decided to try the high hurdles of ``The Daughter of the Regiment″ after not having sung it for 22 years. He was dazzling doing it at the Met in 1971 and 1973 opposite Joan Sutherland. To sing it at 60, which Pavarotti is now, would be phenomenal.

In rehearsals, Pavarotti decided to transpose Tonio’s aria down half a step, making the high notes Bs, for the first performance last Saturday night. At the second performance, on Wednesday, he had phlegm in his throat and missed one of the high notes.

Viala, the ``cover″ for the role, came on and sang the second act. It was his Metropolitan Opera debut.

Viala sang in both acts Saturday afternoon. He sang the ``Pour mes amis″ aria with the eight high Cs Donizetti wrote, hitting them squarely and cleanly. He also added a ninth high C at the end of the aria and held it, as tenors who can do that usually do.

However, Viala was in competition in listener’s minds with Pavarotti and memories and recordings of Pavarotti. He doesn’t stand or walk young and he does none of the cutely boyish things Pavarotti pulls off to add to the opera’s fun.

And while his technique and phrasing are excellent, his tone isn’t ravishingly beautiful, as Pavarotti’s still is most of the time.

It’s a bel canto opera, designed for dazzling vocal display not emotion. June Anderson, in the title role, sang it exactly that way.

Pavarotti hopes to sing the four remaining performances of the opera. The next one will be Wednesday. He will decide before each performance whether to sing Bs or Cs, said Met spokesman David Reuben.

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