DIARY

The Royal Opera House in Covent Garden is not having the best of luck with its stars. At the weekend, the leading Swedish soprano, Sophie Von Otter, had to drop out of Der Rosenkavalier because of a cold. Causing more bewilderment to many ROH fans, however, is the absence of America's top diva, Aprile Millo, who, according to my 1994/1995 catalogue, was due to sing opposite Luciano Pavarotti in the Opera House's biggest event this year - Verdi's Ballo in Maschera (the better seats are a trifling£267 each). Ballo starts on 13 April, but Ms Millo has been replaced by an up-and-coming fellow American, Deborah Voigt - not necessarily a disappointment, my cultural friends assure me.

But still, many among the older generation of opera lovers are not pleased. Ms Voigt is young enough to sing here again, but Ms Millo is coming to the end of her career and has still, peculiarly, never sung at the Opera House. Why? The Opera House, admitting her loss is a pity, can only cite "scheduling problems''.

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