The nice people at the Verbier Festival in Switzerland cannot be happy about last minute changes to this past weekend’s concert schedule caused by late cancellations by James Levine and Renée Fleming. Maestro Levine, advertised for concerts on July 20 and 22, tendered his regrets on July 16, noting “My doctors have strongly advised me not to travel but to stay calm and collect my energies.” Also collecting her energies (or whatever) was La Fleming, who pulled out of the the July 22 performance on four days’ notice, i.e., July 18.
Barbara Bonney emerged from a mysterious year-long hiatus in her career to substitute for Fleming at the July 22 gala, where she sang the soprano part in the Mozart Requiem in d minor. The other soloists, all thankfully enjoying robust health, were Anne-Sofie von Otter, Kenneth Tarver and René Pape. In lieu of Ms. Fleming’s art song portion of the program, Thomas Quasthoff performed Schubert lieder. Wielding the baton for this program and the July 20 opener was Manfred Honeck, future Music Director of the Pittsburgh Symphony.