Hope Briggs not to star in `Don Giovanni' performance

Soprano Hope Briggs has not got the starring role in the San Francisco Opera's upcoming performance of Mozart's "Don Giovanni".

Briggs will be replaced by South African-born Elza van den Heever, who performed the role of Donna Anna at the Lincoln Theater in Napa Valley and is contracted to sing the role with another opera company in a future season.

General Director David Gockley decided that Briggs was "not ultimately suited for the role of Donna Anna in this production" after the final dress rehearsal, opera officials said Thursday.

Van den Heever, a native of Johannesburg, made her debut with the San Francisco Symphony in 2005 to sing Morton Feldman's "I met Heine on the Rue Fürstenberg." She returned in 2006 to sing second soprano in Mahler's Eighth Symphony in San Francisco and on tour in Europe.