After being accused provoking the departure of conductor Alain Lombard from the production of Faust at the Bastille, Roberto Alagna gave his version of what happened in an interview with Le Figaro.
I am very sad. I don’t understand the reaction of the press and the blogs which carry on without knowing the facts… precisely nothing happened!
I don’t disrespected Alain Lombard. He is a man with whom I have a friendship, and I respect his artistic opinions. He even said that after Franco Corelli he had never worked with such a kind singer.
We had one artistic disagreement about the Walpurgis scene where there’s a cut which he prefers, but I wanted to sing.
I was also late to a rehearsal once because of a road accident. The Maestro insisted on morning rehearsals, and as I live in the suburbs I had to travel for an hour and a half during the rush hour, so had to get up at 7am. A second delay was only seven minutes, which would have gone unnoticed if the rehearsal had begun with Siebel’s aria as scheduled. Lombard, believing that I was not going to arrive, sent everyone on a break. This is how a silly set of circumstances builds to create an absurd situation and fuel the gossip!
There appears to be a gap between Lombard’s conception of Faust and the implementation of his ideas. He is not angry with anyone but himself. During the orchestra rehearsals, he kept changing tempo, as if unable to find what he wanted. That is very disturbing for a singer, because everything is a matter of breathing. He said, “I can’t help it.” And when I pointed out to him that he wasn’t letting me breathe, he yelled, “I am not a soothsayer!” I was completely blocked. I’ve been singing Faust for twenty-eight years, I’m not a débutante, yet it put me in difficulty. I therefore decided to withdraw from the production; the theatre convinced me to change my mind.
I had nothing do do in choosing his replacement, Alain Altinoglu, but the return to normalcy has lifted a great weight from the whole team.
The production opens on September 22.