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24-Hour Met Double-Header: Soprano Kristine Opolais Sings (and Dies) in Two Major Roles, 'La Boheme' and 'Madama Butterfly'

By Ian Holubiak i.holubiak@classicalite.com on Apr 08, 2014 01:19 AM EDT

Kristine Opolais won't need to clean the dust under her eyelids this week. With her first Madama Butterfly in the pocket, the Latvian soprano (and wife of conductor Andris Nelsons) considered her day had been completed with grace.

Or so she thought.

Instead, Opolais would soon become the first singer in the Metropolitan Opera's 131-year existence to sing two major role debuts within a single day--the latter being Puccini's La Boheme.

The phone rang off the hook, Anita Hartig took ill and Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, was out of options.

Thus, Opolais, wife of incoming Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Andris Nelsons, who had not sung Mimi since the Vienna State Opera in April 2013, rose to a 5 a.m. phone call to don a lead role in a matter of two and a half hours.

Resident costume designer Sylvia Nolan said, "This is the kind of thing that makes our life exciting and actually makes the Met exciting."

"It is a moment when we get to swing into action and do what we do best because we have people here with extraordinary expertise. They not only have skill, but they have speed," she continued.

The web stream may have eluded her husband, who was in Switzerland at the time, and the weight of the singer's double-debut makes all the many recent cancellations of today's divas look sad.

In other words, your move Netrebko.

To wit, here is "Quando m'en vo" as done by Opolais from Puccini's La Boheme.

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TagsThe Metropolitan Opera, Kristine Opolais, La Boheme, Madama Butterfly, Sylvia Nolan, Andris Nelsons, Peter Gelb, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Anita Hartig