On Tuesday (September 12), just a few hours before the Ring's opening night, the company announced Hunka's absence from the first two performances of the cycle, that night's Das Rheingold and last night's Die Walk‹re, because of laryngitis.
According to a statement from COC, Hunka's doctors have now directed him to take the next two months off from singing. "Due to the historic significance of the first Ring cycle in Canada, I feel strongly that it is crucial to have the very best performances for the COC and its public," the baritone said in the statement.
According to subsequent reports, the singer says that he has developed diabetes and needs to take time to stabilize his blood sugar and establish a dietary and health regimen before returning to traveling and performing. Hunka is also withdrawing from COC's October-November production of Mozart's CosÐ fan tutte, in which he was to play Don Alfonso.
Replacing Hunka as Wotan/the Wanderer in tomorrow night's performance of Siegfried is American baritone Peteris Eglitis, who also filled in for Hunka in last night's Walk‹re. Back in July, COC had announced Hunka as replacing Eglitis as Wotan for its Ring performances.
Casting of the role for the remaining two complete cycles, Sept. 19-24 and Sept. 26-Oct. 1, has not yet been finalized.
More information about the Canadian Opera Company Ring cycle can be found at www.coc.ca and www.ringcycle.ca. CBC Radio One and Two will be broadcasting (with live streaming audio over the Web) all four operas as well as related programming; for details, see http://www.cbc.ca/thering/schedule.html.