A statement released by the Festival today said that Villaz‹n withdrew due to a "long-term illness" ("einer l‹ngerfristigen Erkrankung"). Stepping in for him will be soprano Ana Mar‹a Mart‹nez, with whom Domingo performed just the night before last at the Ravinia Festival's annual fundraising gala. "I feel for Rolando," said Domingo in the Festival statement, "and it is my wish that he sing with us again soon. But I look forward to the concert with Ana Mar‹a Mart‹nez. It has always been my wish to sing with her one day in Salzburg."
Of Villaz‹n's withdrawal, Festival president Helga Rabl-Stadler told the Austrian national broadcaster ORF that the tenor "is suffering from an artistic crisis, and we are suffering along with him." And J‹rgen Fimm, the Festival's artistic director, told ORF, he wanted very much to sing with us and yesterday gave a concert in Trondheim [Norway] to see if [the voice] was working. Unfortunately, it wasn't working."
This is the second high-profile cancellation Villaz‹n has been obliged to make in less than a month: He was unable to sing in three performances of a gala program with Netrebko, Elina Garanca and Ludovic T_zier at the Festspielhaus in Baden-Baden on July 28 and 31 and August 3. (He was replaced by Ram‹n Vargas.) Villaz‹n did perform four gala concerts with Netrebko in the middle of July, however, in Hamburg, Rome, Mannheim and Munich. The pair — often referred to as "opera's dream couple" for their onstage chemistry — have four more concerts scheduled for later this month, in Cologne, Halle, Berlin and Stuttgart (the first two of those in stadiums). As of today, the website of those concerts' promoter, DEAG classics, shows no change in plans for those performances.