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David Lister

Allegations of domestic violence will change not just Roberto Alagna's but Angela Gheorghiu’s image forever


Angela Gheorghiu is  everyone’s idea of the  superstar opera singer: a hugely gifted soprano with electric stage presence, who also happens to be beautiful, full of star quality and something of a diva to boot.

On that last point, stories have been swapped among opera-goers for years of delightfully divaesque moments, like asking for hair and make-up for a radio interview or talking about herself in the third person.

But her radiance and talent always ensured excitement when she was performing, with the gods full of Angela devotees ready to throw flowers on stage as she took one of her many curtain calls.

Now her image is for ever changed. Not only has she revealed a history of suffering domestic violence, but it was, she alleges, at the hands of an opera star no less celebrated than she, the renowned tenor Roberto Alagna.

The news will be a lot to take in for fans of the couple, whose massive popularity extends far beyond these shores – to Italy, Germany, France, America and Japan.

Everyone will no doubt be concerned for her physical and emotional wellbeing. But there will also be other, less obvious damage to take into account. When those pictures emerged of Nigella Lawson and her husband Charles Saatchi, her brand suffered. The domestic goddess who exuded contentment and control was no longer.

Gheorghiu has always been the epitome not just of talent, but also of poise and style. Alagna – a romantic tenor who exudes charm and sexual allure – will surely suffer. With this interview Gheorghiu has revealed herself as a figure deserving of sympathy for the traumas she relates. The talk at Covent Garden on Friday, when Gheorghiu stars in a new production, will not just be about the performance.