Rolando Villazón Out of Opening Performance of Santa Fe Opera’s ‘Orfeo’ After Sustaining Injury in Rehearsal

By David Salazar

The Santa Fe Opera has announced that Rolando Villazón has been forced to withdraw from the July 29, 2023 performance of “Orfeo” due to a “minor injury” he sustained during the final dress rehearsal.

In his stead, the company is calling on Luke Sutliff to take over the title role while Villazón rests for a prescribed four days.

“I am absolutely gutted to miss tomorrow’s performance but I must follow the doctor’s orders in order to avoid any lasting damage to my back. I am doing everything I can in order to be well enough to perform from August 2 onwards. The rehearsal process has been such a joy and I cannot wait to perform Monteverdi’s music in Nico Muhly’s astounding orchestration and Yuval Sharon’s exceptional staging. I wish the entire cast and crew toi toi toi for tomorrow,” Villazón, who is expected back for the August 2, 2023 performance, said in an official press statement.

However, in a subsequent social media post, Villazón further clarified the situation and noted that the injury was not “minor,” as indicated by the company press release.

He wrote, “The injury was caused by the harness I am flying in.  I was in serious pain right away but decided to finish the rehearsal, for the whole cast and crew as it was our last run through before opening, and of course the invited audience. I had to be taken to the ER where I was x-rayed. Fortunately, no rib was broken but I have a strained and possibly torn muscle in my back. Not a minor injury…😔 The doctors told me I was not allowed to ‘return to work’ (meaning to perform) for at least four days and put me on heavy medication.  Of course, I did not withdraw but wanted to perform anyway and told the theatre as much. I am able to sing, albeit with some pain, and I was ready to adapt the staging in order to make the performance possible, as was Yuval Sharon, our director. However, I was told by the theatre that I could not perform opening night, for legal reasons.  I do not wish to blame any individual for this but you can imagine how sad and frustrated I feel.”

Sutliff made his company debut back in 2021 in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” He also appeared in “Carmen” last season and is expected to take on the role of Belcore in “The Elixir of Love” during the 2024 season.

Sutliff joins a cast starring Lauren Snouffer, Paula Murrihy, James Creswell, and Blake Denson. Yuval Sharon directs and Harry Bicket conducts.

“Orfeo” is set to run through August 24, 2023.