When Rolando Villazon coughs, the rest of the opera world catches cold.

The popular Mexican tenor said Wednesday that he was canceling the remainder of his 2009 appearances to undergo surgery to remove a cyst from his vocal cords. His announcement forced at least two major opera companies to find replacements.

Los Angeles Opera had scheduled Villazon to open its 2009-10 season in September in Donizetti’s “The Elixir of Love,” in which the tenor was to play the role of Nemorino. The company said that Italian tenor Giuseppe Filianoti would take over the role. Filianoti was already scheduled to play the part in some of the production’s performances.

In New York, the Metropolitan Opera was seeking a replacement for Villazon in a new production of Offenbach’s “Les Contes d’Hoffmann,” scheduled for December.


The tenor will be treated by voice specialist and surgeon Dr. Gerrit Wohlt. He is expected to return to the stage in 2010, according to his management team.

-- David Ng