Antonio Pappano, the revered conductor and director of music at the Royal Opera House at Covent Garden, has unleashed a blistering attack on the new generation of opera singers, claiming they are physically weak and don't care about the profession. Comparing the younger sisters to Spanish tenor Placido Domingo - whom he suggests "would have to be on his death bed" before cancelling a show - Pappano fumed, "It happens more and more. There's something about this generation of singers, that they are weaker in their bodies or don't care. I don't know what it is, but it's something that is very, very frustrating for me personally," reports The Guardian.

Although careful to avoid naming anyone, Pappano launched his attack while answering questions at the programme launch for the new season of Covent Garden's ballet and opera. Tenor Juan Diego Florez was hired for a rare revival of a Meyerbeer opera, though Florez told the director it wasn't right for his voice to expand into a "heavier" repertoire. 

Pappano moved quickly to cast the American Bryan Hymel, though he went straight from Covent Garden to the Met in New York at two days' notice, while German soprano Diana Damrau fell pregnant. Next up was Jennifer Rowley, though she was dropped within a week. "It wasn't good enough," he said this week, "It wasn't good enough for Covent Garden."

In commercial terms, Covent Garden has been thriving, with almost all performances by the Royal Opera and Ballet selling out. The 2013/2014 season features a return by Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, some ten years after retired, and a guest return from Sir Simon Rattle, conducting Poulenc's only full-length opera.

Placido DomingoAntonio Pappano Cited Placido Domingo As A Tenor With Integrity