New York Luciano Pavarotti plans to return to the Metropolitan Opera in March 2004 for three performances of Puccini's "Tosca" that are being billed as his farewell to the house in staged opera.
The famed tenor created a fury when he canceled his two appearances in "Tosca" at the Met in May 2002, when he caught the flu following the dress rehearsal. Those performances had been widely thought to be Pavarotti's farewell to the Met.
"My great friend, Joe Volpe, and I have been talking for some time now to try to reschedule the performances I unfortunately had to cancel last year," the 67-year-old Pavarotti said in a statement Wednesday. "I'm so delighted to be returning to this great, great opera house to sing in 'Tosca.'
"This will be my last performance in a full opera at the Metropolitan Opera, and the performances will mark the beginning of a tour where I make my farewell performances around the world."
"I'm really thrilled this is going to work out," Volpe said in a telephone interview. "He's had such an incredible career at the Met. This will be a nice way for the Met and Luciano to celebrate his career."
Before the second cancellation, Volpe asked Pavarotti to come to the opera house and speak to the audience, which had paid $75 to $1,875 per ticket.
In announcing the cancellation from the stage on May 11 last year, Volpe said Pavarotti refused and recounted telling the singer: "This is a hell of a way to end this beautiful career of yours."
Volpe said the emotions of the moment played a part in his comments that night.
"Whatever I said on stage that night was -- obviously, I was under a lot of pressure announcing to a gala audience that Luciano Pavarotti was not going to sing that evening," Volpe said.
Pavarotti has not sung in an opera since a performance as Mario Cavaradossi in "Tosca" at London's Royal Opera, Covent Garden, on Jan. 22, 2001. He is scheduled to sing a single performance of Cavaradossi at the Deutsche Oper Berlin on June 28.
Volpe said Pavarotti will sing "Tosca" performances on the nights of March 6, 10 and 13.
"The 13th will be his farewell opera performance," Volpe said. "That's not to say he might not be doing concert performances at the Met in the future."
Pavarotti may sing in staged operas at other houses after his Met farewell, but nothing has been scheduled.
Pavarotti made his Met debut in 1968 in Puccini's "La Boheme." He became a star after standout performances as Tonio in Donizetti's "La Fille du Regiment" at the Met in 1972, nailing the nine high Cs in "Ah! Mes amis."
He has sung 373 times at the Met, last appearing on Jan. 31, 2001, as Radames in Verdi's "Aida."