Opera stars pull out of Japan tour

Soprano Anna Netrebko and tenor Joseph Calleja have announced at the last minute that they will not join New York Metropolitan Opera’s tour of Japan this month, for fear of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear plant.

Netrebko is said to have “changed her mind because of the emotional weight of having also lived through the tragedy of Chernobyl” and Calleja "also had last-minute misgivings about performing in Japan at this time", according to a statement from the Met.

The Met sought advice from radiation experts, who declared conditions safe in Nagoya and Tokyo, where the company will perform. 350 orchestra and chorus members, dancers, stage crew and principal singers arrived in Japan on Monday and they will perform three operas over two weeks.

Last month Jonas Kaufmann withdrew from the tour with similar concerns. The Met has had a last-minute rush to find replacements, and Rolando Villazón is among the tenors who will fill in for performances by Calleja. Peter Gelb, the Met’s General Manager commented:
“We’re used to dealing with cancellations at the Met. It’s the nature of the beast… Part of what makes opera such an exciting art form is that it is so unpredictable.”