Armenian up-and-comer saves the day for Opera Australia, after Georgian soprano shamed for homophobic rant.
Opera Australia has announced that the Armenian soprano Lianna Haroutounian will replace Georgian soprano Tamar Iveri in the company's upcoming production of Otello. Iveri withdrew from the production after a homophobic rant posted on her Facebook page last year was unearthed by Limelight, leading to a storm of outrage on Australian social media.
Haroutounian has acquired an impressive reputation as a Verdi specialist of late and is something of an expert at replacing indisposed sopranos, having stood in last year for Marina Poplavskaya in the Royal Opera House's production of Verdi's Les Vêpres Siciliennes. Earlier that year she replaced Anja Harteros in the same company's production of Don Carlos. Both roles were accounted a success, and her Elizabeth de Valois has gone on to receive considerable acclaim in Zurich and other houses as well.
Reviews of Ms Haroutounian invariably praise her vocal warmth and the humanity she brings to roles. “Into the breach on the second night stepped Lianna Haroutounian, and what a 42nd Street sensation she was. It was the stuff of fairy tales," wrote Mark Valencia on her Don Carlos appearance in London. "Her voice has power and expressive bloom yet she is not afraid to shed the beauty when the drama demands it, and her chemistry with opera superstar Jonas Kaufmann (supreme in the title role, his voice impassioned and hair-raising above the stave) brimmed with urgency …”
She has a strong track record in the role of Desdemona, in which she is replacing Iveri for Opera Australia. A Bachtrack review of a recent Teatro San Carlo di Napoli staging of Otello praised "Haroutounian's rich, full tones, [which] produced such tender pain and prayerful compassion that she created a real empathy with the audience."
Haroutounian is clearly a soprano on the rise, with a debut at the Metropolitan Opera planned for 2015 as Elizabeth in Don Carlos. She will return to the Royal Opera House as Mimì in La Bohème in the same season. Her performance in Otello next month will mark her debut with Opera Australia where she shares the role with Armenian-Australian soprano Natalie Aroyan.
It is still not certain who will be singing Tosca in their Melbourne production, for which Tamar Iveri is still listed. Although Haroutounian has the part in her repertoire, her scheduled appearances in that role in San Francisco probably rule her out.
Otello opens on July 5 at the Sydney Opera House.