Luciano Pavarotti created an opera of his own on Saturday, keeping fans at the Metro-politan Opera guessing until the last moment – before crying off with flu. With his career already fading, he is unlikely to be invited back again.
"It is really the end," Joseph Volpe, the Met's general manager said on a night that had given suspense not just to those with tickets for seats inside but also for 3,000 expecting to watch the maestro on a simultaneous telecast on the Lincoln Centre plaza outside.
Pavarotti, 66, who has sung 375 times at the Met over 33 years, had similarly ducked the role of Mario Cavaradossi on Wednesday. That brought hisses and boos when Mr Volpe was forced to announce the cancellation on stage.
There had been some hope that he would be mended by Saturday night, billed as his last performance in New York. But as the audience hushed for the start, it was Mr Volpe who came out once more with bad news. Pavarotti was replaced by Salvatore Licitra, an Italian tenor half his age.
Pavarotti had decided at 5.15pm that he would be able to sing. But just 40 minutes before curtain up, he changed his mind. When Mr Volpe asked him to come to the stage to apologise, Pavarotti said: "I cannot do that."
Showing his frustration, Mr Volpe told the audience – some of whom had paid $1,500 (£1,020) for their seats at what was the Met's season-ending gala – that he had said to Pavarotti: "This is a hell of a way to end a beautiful career."Reuse content