Met opera stars skip tour of JapanTOKYO - Two of the biggest stars of New York’s Metropolitan Opera have bowed out of a Japan tour, citing fears of radioactive contamination and sending the company scrambling to find last-minute stand-ins.
Anna Netrebko and tenor Joseph Calleja announced just days before the opening show that they would not join the tour of Nagoya and Tokyo despite experts’ assurances they would be safe, forcing the Met to “scour the world” for replacements, general manager Peter Gelb said Tuesday.
Japan was hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami on March 11 that left about 25,000 people dead or missing and crippled a nuclear power station north of Tokyo, setting off radiation leaks. The plant remains unstable, though the leaks have declined substantially.
There was never any scientific concern of a radiation impact on Nagoya, which is much farther away.
The disaster and the uncertainty it spawned caused a spate of concert cancellations and the arts scene is only now returning to normal. Along with pop music and sports events, classical concerts by the Vienna Boys Choir, the Lyon Orchestra and the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra also were nixed, along with performances by violinists Hillary Hahn and Anne Sophie Mutter.
“Of course, Tokyo is safe,” said Momoko Serizawa, a spokeswoman for concert organizer Japan Arts. “But the visit by the Met comes at a very important and delicate time and we hope it will give impetus to others to follow soon.”
Not all artists have stayed away - last month, opera great Placido Domingo performed in Japan and later donated $200,000.
Even so, Gelb said Netrebko, who is Russian, chose not to go through with the tour because of radiation concerns and because, she said, she had friends who died of cancer after the Chernobyl disaster in 1989.
Gelb said the Met struggled with whether to go ahead with the performances, planned years in advance.
Last month, David Brenner, an expert on low-dose radiation, was brought in from Columbia University to meet with the company. He informed them that radiation levels in Tokyo had returned to their pre-tsunami norm and that the airplane trip or a simple X-ray would probably lead to greater exposure than the stay in Japan.
“There are cities in Europe with higher levels,” Gelb said Brenner told the performers.
한글 관련 기사 [연합]
세계적 성악가 2명, ‘피폭 우려’ 日공연 불참
이번 주말 일본에서 공연을 가질 예정이었던 뉴욕 메트로폴리탄 오페라 소속 세계적인 성악가 2명이 방사선 노출을 우려해 무대에 서지 않겠다는 뜻을 밝혔다.
31일 소프라노 안나 네트렙코와 테너 조세프 칼레야는 이런 이유로 다음 달 4일부터 시작되는 메트로폴리탄 오페라의 일본 순회공연에 참가하지 않겠다는 뜻을 밝혔다.
이에 따라 메트로폴리탄 오페라 측은 당장 이번 주말부터 시작되는 나고야-도쿄 순회공연에서 두 성악가를 대체할 인물 물색에 나선 상태다.
메트로폴리탄 오페라 극장의 총감독인 피터 겔브는 두 사람의 결정을 존중한다면서도 일본 공연이 위험하지 않을 것이라는 점을 분명히 했다.
또한 겔브는 두 사람의 공연 불참과 상관없이 메트로폴리탄 오페라의 일본 순회공연은 예정대로 진행될 것이라고 밝혔다.
한편 메트로폴리탄 오페라 극장은 밀라노 라 스칼라 극장, 빈 오페라 하우스와 함께 세계 3대 오페라 극장으로 꼽힌다.
네트렙코는 목소리와 외모를 모두 겸비한 러시아 출신의 소프라노이며, 칼레야는 몰타 출신의 테너로 지난 2003년 밀라노 카루소 대회에서 우승을 차지한 바 있다.