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Injury thwarts opera debut

Giorgio Caoduro replaces recuperating Ruggero Raimondi in the L.A.

September 05, 2009|Karen Wada

Those who've been awaiting the L.A. debut of Ruggero Raimondi will have to wait a little longer.

The venerable Italian bass was supposed to make his first appearance with the Los Angeles Opera as Doctor Dulcamara on Sept. 12 in the season opener, Donizetti's "L'Elisir d'Amore" ("The Elixir of Love"). But the company has just announced that the 67-year-old singer ruptured an Achilles tendon during rehearsal and must withdraw from the production.

In his place, Italian baritone Giorgio Caoduro will assume the role of Dulcamara.

"Ruggero Raimondi, one of the great Italian basses of all time, has been a treasured colleague and friend of mine for several decades," Placido Domingo, the general director of L.A. Opera, said in a statement. "Naturally, we are very disappointed that an artist of his stature had to leave the production, but we wish him a speedy recovery and hope to re-engage him for his L.A. Opera debut in the future. In the meantime, we are fortunate to have been able to engage Giorgio Caoduro to make his company debut as Dulcamara."

Caoduro, 28, has sung at La Scala, Covent Garden and many of Europe's other major houses, as well as in San Francisco and Dallas.

The Dallas Morning News said of his performance as Figaro in a 2006 performance of "Il Barbiere di Siviglia" ("The Barber of Seville"): "The real discovery is Giorgio Caoduro . . . whose firm, forward tone is allied to a natural exuberance." Caoduro has won acclaim in several productions of "L'Elisir" as the dashing Sergeant Belcore, though he has also played the quack doctor.

Raimondi, who made his professional debut 45 years ago, is celebrated for his acting as well as his singing both on stage and on the big screen, where he reprised two of his notable roles: Don Giovanni and Scarpia in "Tosca."

In "L'Elisir" -- Stephen Lawless' revival of the rollicking production he created for L.A. Opera in 1996 -- Raimondi was to have played Dulcamara, the charlatan whose potion aids the bumpkin Nemorino (Giuseppe Filianoti -- himself a replacement for an ailing Rolando Villazon) in his quest to win the lovely, rich Adina (Nino Machaidze) from Belcore (Nathan Gunn).

"Everything was going so well," says Raimondi on the phone from the Fairfax area apartment where he is recovering from surgery. "The singers all have such beautiful voices. My old friend [music director] James Conlon was conducting. And then one stupid movement, and the dream was destroyed.

"Tell everyone I am so very sorry," he says. "But in life you must always have a smile -- even if a smile of regret."

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