- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Angela Gheorghiu is out of the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of Gounod’s “Faust” that shifts the opera to the 20th century, another cancellation in a tempestuous career following her withdrawal for an entire run of “Romeo et Juliette” that began last week.

The Met announced Monday that the soprano pulled out of Des McAnuff’s staging next season for “artistic reasons.” The production updates the action to the nuclear age between the world wars.

Met general manager Peter Gelb said Gheorghiu’s future Met contracts will be honored. Still, he said it would be hard to consider her for new productions.

“I’m not ruling it out, but I think Angela really has somehow limited her own future options,” Gelb said in a telephone interview. “We have some future plans still in place with Angela. … But you have to be there to sing.”

Marina Poplavskaya, who had been scheduled to perform Marguerite later in the run, will take over when the staging opens Nov. 29.

The timing of the announcement was unusual given that the staging, a co-production with the English National Opera, opened in September and the Met announced its 2011-12 season last month. The staging opened to mixed reviews in London.

“Were we not expecting a little more wow factor?” Edward Seckerson wrote in The Independent.

George Hall writing in The Guardian, said “his overall concept, showing Faust as a physicist disgusted by the nuclear destruction of Hiroshima, and returning to his own youth at the time of the first world war, works well enough.”

“It didn’t fit in with her conception of `Faust,’ more of a romantic French work,” said Jack Mastroianni of IMG Artists, who represents Gheorghiu. “She spoke with the stage director in the fall. She got fitted for the costumes. She was clear to me she respected him a lot and liked him a lot, but she kept saying, `I don’t see myself in the production.’ And I asked her to think about it some more. Artists, they don’t necessarily think on a timetable as a businessman.”

Mastroianni said Gheorghiu made her final decision Friday, saying, “I’m not feeling comfortable,” and adding “God knows what it does to my image?”

Gelb wouldn’t get into the timing or mechanics of the decision.

“This is obviously a delicate issue, one which I’m really not prepared to discuss in any greater deal,” he said. “I’m sorry that it has come to this and that Miss Gheorghiu will not be performing.”

Gheorghiu was to sing the title role _ a mezzo part _ in a new production of Bizet’s “Carmen” for the 2009-10 season but then withdrew, saying she needed more time to prepare for the role.

The production also starred her then-husband, tenor Roberto Alagna, but Gheorghiu said on her website in September 2009 that she had started divorce proceedings. The couple married on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera in April 1996 with then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani presiding.

In September 2007, the Lyric Opera of Chicago fired her from Mimi in Puccini’s “La Boheme,” with general director William Mason saying she missed six of 10 rehearsals.

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