Maria Agresta has withdrawn from the San Francisco Opera’s upcoming production of Puccini’s “Turandot” due to illness.
The company announced that American soprano Toni Marie Palmertree will sing Liù, replacing Agresta and will now perform in all six September performances.
Palmertree scored a triumph last season when she substituted for an ailing colleague on two hours’ notice as Cio-Cio-San in Puccini’s “Madama Butterfly.” The occasion marked her first time portraying the character on stage and her first leading role with the Company. Critics raved with the San Francisco Classical Voice noting, “The young soprano not only met the challenge, but she claimed her place among the finest vocal interpreters of the role heard here recently.”
Palmertree is currently in her second year of a San Francisco Opera Adler Fellowship, and she has sung the Priestess in Verdi’s “Aida,” the Heavenly Voice in “Don Carlo” and appeared in Company productions of “Jenůfa” and “Dream of the Red Chamber.” She recently starred in West Bay Opera’s production of Puccini’s “Il Trittico,” portraying Giorgetta in Il Tabarro and the title role in Suor Angelica.
This is the second high profile cancellation for Agresta in a month. Last month she stepped out Verdi’s “I Due Foscari” at the Salzburg Festival due to illness. Agresta is scheduled to return to the stage in October for the Metropolitan Opera’s revival of “Turandot.”
The San Francisco Opera inaugurates its 95th season on Friday, Sept. 8. Puccini’s “Turandot” will be conducted by Company Music Director Nicola Luisotti and also stars Martina Serafin and Brian Jagde.