Last night I was idly browsing the Opera Australia website (as I do) and discovered, much to my alarm, that Cheryl Barker's name had disappeared from both the cast list and the publicity blurb for the upcoming Sydney season of Tosca. I feared the worst, and this morning, I'm afraid I have to announce that my fears have been confirmed: Cheryl has indeed withdrawn from Tosca.
From the OA press release:
Opera Australia announced today that Takesha Kizart, the acclaimed American soprano who performed the title role in the 2008 Opera North production of Tosca, will replace Cheryl Barker in the forthcoming Sydney Summer season. Miss Barker has withdrawn from the role for personal reasons. OA Artistic Director, Lyndon Terracini, said today: ‘Securing Takesha Kizart in this role is a real coup for the Company. Whilst we are disappointed that Miss Barker will not be performing, we are excited that Miss Kizart has agreed to perform at such short notice’.
Kizart has been an acclaimed Tosca overseas and, as mentioned abve, has even sung in this same Alden production. So she knows her stuff, and I suspect we'll be quite thrilled when she makes her Australian début. But it's of course a massive shame not to have Cheryl. My own devastation you can well imagine — although at least I hadn't started booking my ten tickets yet — and I know I'm far from the only person who was very keenly anticipating Cheryl's Tosca. However, these things happen. "Personal reasons" covers a lot of ground and I do hope that all is well with our prima donna; Toscas are lovely but health and wellbeing are much more important.
Single ticket sales open today. One can only hope the box office staff has been briefed and will warn those booking for Tosca of the change. As for me, I'd planned to celebrate the day with tickets for closing night — I think now I'll be booking for another Bliss instead.