A 28-year-old understudy has been conscripted for duty in the pivotal role of Natasha in the English National Operaís production of Prokofievís War and Peace.
Sandra Zeltzer, who was born in Paris, France, and studied at Londonís Guildhall music school, will star opposite Simon Keenlyside and John Daszak, who will play Andrei and Pierre.
But Ms Zeltzerís big break is tinged with sadness at the withdrawal of Susan Chilcott, whose portrayal of Natasha would have marked her first return to the Coliseum stage after her acclaimed Rusalka in 1995. Ms Chilcott, who has just been diagnosed as suffering from breast cancer, will shortly undergo surgery, followed by a period of recuperation.
It is hoped that Ms Chilcott, whose Desdemona in Verdiís Otello at Glyndebourne this summer confirmed her status as a leading international artist, will resume her engagements in December.
Meanwhile, Ms Zeltzerís promotion means she must relinquish her advertised ENO debut as Musetta in the revival of Pucciniís La Boheme. Musetta will now be performed by Alycia Fashae, who had been engaged to cover the role. Ms Fashae made her ENO debut in March 2000 as Leila in The Pearl Fishers and returned as Frasquita in Carmen last season.
War and Peace, an ensemble requiring huge forces, went into rehearsal last week, conducted by ENO music director Paul Daniel and directed by Tim Albery. It opens on 27 October. La Boheme opens on 22 September.
Mon Sep 10 2001 (9:03:46 AM)