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Voigt Returns to Opera Role at Center of Firing

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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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BLOCK: This is NPR, National Public Radio. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.