Voigt Returns to Opera Role at Center of Firing

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Opera singer Deborah Voigt will be reprising the title role in "Ariadne auf Naxos" at London's Royal Opera House next week. The role is one from which she was fired in 2004 because of her weight.

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Soprano Deborah Voigt got some of her best reviews in 1991 when she played the title role in Richard Strauss's "Ariadne auf Naxos." The Met came calling and Voigt quickly became one of the best known singers in contemporary opera. It just so happened, the role that made her career would nearly end it. In 2004, Voigt was set to play Ariadne at London's Royal Opera house. This time though the director calls for her to wear a little black dress. All her life Voigt has struggled with her weight and it was clear that the little black dress just wouldn't fit. So the director fired her.

Deborah Voigt decided to have gastric bypass surgery and lost over 100 pounds. She dropped from a size 30 to a size 14. Voigt says she didn't have the surgery because of that little black dress, she says she did it because that weight caused a host of health problems. Now she has posted a video to her Web site poking fun of the whole affair.

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BLOCK: In it, Voigt's doorbell rings. When she answers, the visitor is none other than - the little black dress.

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Ms. DEBORAH VOIGT (Opera Singer): I must say I'm a little surprised to see you.

Unidentified Man #1: I know, I know. We didn't part on the best of terms. It just seemed at that time that we weren't a good fit. But times change, people change.

Ms. VOIGT: They certainly do.

BLOCK: Well, next week Deborah Voigt will finally get the chance to play Ariadne at the Royal Opera. So it seems this story won't really be over until the lady in the little black dress sings.

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Deborah Voigt's 'Obsessions'

Opera Soprano Moves Beyond 'Dress Mess' with New CD

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Soprano Deborah Voigt is considered by many opera writers to be the finest interpreter of Richard Strauss' opera Ariadne auf Naxos singing today. Voigt made her Carnegie Hall debut on April 7, one day after releasing Obsessions, her first solo recording of Wagner and Strauss arias.

Opera Singer Deborah Voigt

Opera soprano Deborah Voigt was fired from a production at London's Covent Garden Opera House because she couldn't fit into a cocktail dress that was to be her costume. Angel Records/Joanne Savio hide caption

itoggle caption Angel Records/Joanne Savio

The release of Obsessions coincided with an odd event that briefly transported Voigt from the arts page to the front page: She was dropped from Ariadne by London's Royal Opera because she was deemed too big to wear a little black cocktail dress in the contemporary production.

Voigt tells NPR's Robert Siegel about her new CD, the publicity surrounding the Covent Garden affair and her plans for the future.

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