Katia Ledoux Makes History at Volksoper Wien Singing Two Roles

By Francisco Salazar

French mezzo-soprano Katia Ledoux made history on Feb. 1 during a presentation of Offenbach’s “Orpheus in the Underworld” at the Volskoper Wien.

During the performance, Ledoux sang both the mezzo and the tenor role after Daniel Kluge pulled out, feeling sick.

In a lengthy social media post, the mezzo said, “I’m sitting in the office next to our casting director’s office and hear through the open door that another singer who could potentially jump in for our Orpheus tomorrow says the show is too complicated to learn until tomorrow. The tenor supposed to sing the title role is very sick and cannot come to mime his part so we need one person to sing from the pit and one person to play the part on stage. I’m asking the stage manager who’s sitting there whether he couldn’t play it, but tomorrow is a particularly busy day full of important meetings, there would not be enough time for him to prepare. The brilliant idea of flying the stage director in for that part is giving everybody hope, but soon we hear the phone call: impossible. He cannot leave the UK. Out of curiosity, I decide to look into the score to see how much Orpheus has to sing and look at the video to see what he has to do…”

She continued, “Tuesday 19:40. Another phone call. Another tenor can’t jump in tomorrow. The options are dwindling. I mention half-jokingly to the Stage-Manager if technically he thinks I could do it? Venus and Orpheus don’t share much stage time and when they are both on stage together they sing very similar lines in big ensemble, shouldn’t it be possible that one person does both? He starts to seriously think about it and says it depends how fast I am with learning all the text, but with 3 hours of staging rehearsal before the show he thinks it could be doable… I have another look into the score. It really doesn’t look that difficult… sure I’d have to jump between singing some things an octave lower to sound like a tenor and sing some things in my octave to be able to be heard… but… I think… I could actually do it…”

Ledoux added, “Tuesday 19:50. I said it out loud. I said I could do it. The whole role. Sung and played. Silence filled the room. ‘I’d need 3 hours of musical coaching in the morning with Frau Andel, she’s the only one with whom I could learn the full role in so little time, then 3h of staging, tickets so that my parents can see that as well as the friend I was supposed to have lunch with and will try to appease with a free ticket instead… oh and flat shoes! There is no way I can do the whole show with Venus’ high heels because they always kill my feet. But otherwise if you tell me now that I got it, I’m going home to start learning the dialogues now…’ Tuesday 20:10. I’m sitting in the metro going home. I’m a bit shaky while dialing up the phone number of my agent: ‘I’m jumping in for Orpheus tomorrow.’

The mezzo said that when arrived at the opera house on Wednesday at 8:30 and did costume fittings, dialogue rehearsals, musical coachings, wig fittings, and staging rehearsal.

She said, “suddenly it was 19:00, the curtain went up with an announcement that ‘we’re very thankful for Katia Ledoux to be saving the show by playing both the roles of Venus AND Orpheus tonight!’ and I got hit by the sudden realization that I am absolutely batshit crazy for doing this… What the heck was I thinking???? It was mad, I was cringing at myself throughout the entire show, I spent the entire break after the second act crying of exhaustion, I messed up quite a few scenes,… but in the end… I received one of the warmest and most beautiful applauses of my life and I earned cool points for being ‘fearless.’ Was it worth it? Absolutely not! 3/10 would not recommend… I’ve had actual nightmares that felt a LOT less terrifying. It pushed me to my absolute limit, but also showed me clearly how much love, warmth and support surround me. I received all the praise, but never in a million years would I have been able to do this on my own!”

You can read the entire story below on the Facebook post.