The Metropolitan Opera announced yesterday afternoon that, due to illness, the 35-year-old tenor will be unable to make his December appearances as Romeo (opposite Anna Netrebko, his frequent onstage partner) in Gounod's Rom_o et Juliette; he had cancelled his September and October dates in the role last month. (The company announced another withdrawal from the seemingly ill-fated production only this morning.)
Just as the Met's statement went out, Carnegie Hall released the news that Villaz‹n has, "with great regret," postponed his Carnegie Hall recital debut on December 10. A rescheduled date for the concert will be announced at a later time.
This morning the Royal Opera House in London confirmed that Villaz‹n won't be appearing in the new production of Donizetti's L'elisir d'amore in November or in the company's fall gala concert on November 15. (No replacement has been announced, though tenor Stefano Secco, already scheduled to make his Covent Garden debut in the run's performances on November 19 and 24, could well be asked to fill in for his colleague.)
Alan Green, Villaz‹n's manager, told The New York Times that the timing of the tenor's return to the stage is "difficult to pin down right now ... I would hazard to guess certainly early in the new year." Villaz‹n's engagements for January 2008 include six performances at the Vienna State Opera, three each as Massenet's Werther and as Des Grieux in Massenet's Manon, as well as recitals at the Liceu in Barcelona and the Th_ê¢tre des Champs-Elys_es in Paris. According to those venues' respective websites, he currently remains on the schedule for all of those performances.
Asked about the nature of Villaz‹n's health problems, Green told the Times, "I can't say more than that. Health reasons, period."
With three operatic legends having died of cancer in this summer (and with memories of Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's untimely death from the disease last year after a long series of cancellations), concerns and speculation about the seriousness of Villaz‹n's condition can't help but arise. Green did try to calm such worries, telling the Times that the tenor's illness is "nothing grave at all, rest assured."