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Tenor Jonas Kaufmann cancels at Met Opera yet again

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NEW YORK (AP) — Jonas Kaufmann has canceled at the Metropolitan Opera yet again, this time nearly a year in advance.

Met General Manager Peter Gelb said Friday that Kaufmann's agent, Alan Green, told the company the 47-year-old German tenor will be unable to attend rehearsals and some of the early performances of the new production of Puccini's "Tosca," which opens on New Year's Eve. Gelb said he received an email from Green attributing the decision to "his personal life and changes."

Vittorio Grigolo will make his role debut as Cavaradossi, taking over Kaufmann's scheduled appearances through Jan. 27. Gelb said he asked Grigolo about a year ago if he would be able to replace Kaufmann "because I did not have 100 percent faith that Jonas would be able to do it."

Kaufmann, the world's most sought-after spinto tenor, made his debut Met in 2006 but has not sung there since March 2014. He backed out of two performances of Bizet's "Carmen" in 2014-15 and an entire run of a new staging of Puccini's "Manon Lescaut" in 2015-16, claiming illness. Gelb said that while it was possible Kaufmann might have been available to sing in late January, he did not want him in the staging without rehearsing it.

"I'm not counting on anything that's scheduled in the future," Gelb said. "I can't after so many so many disappointments."

Kaufmann had received major billing in the Met's 2017-18 season announcement just two weeks ago.

"I feel that I cannot allow myself to have such long periods away from my family at this time," he said in a statement issues through his agents. "I look forward to returning to the Met in the near future. I also look forward to my appearances at Carnegie Hall next season in a recital and as soloist with the Boston Symphony."

Grigolo, a 40-year-old Italian, has sung well-received performances at the Met this year in Gounod's "Romeo et Juliette" and Massenet's "Werther." The Met's new "Tosca" will be directed by David McVicar, stars soprano Kristine Opolais in the title role and Bryn Terfel as Scarpia, and will be conducted by Boston Symphony Orchestra music director Andris Nelsons, Opolais' husband.

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