The Metropolitan Opera wants to keep the tenor rather than the opera.
Olga Boradina will sing the title role in seven performances opposite Alvarez, who will be performing Don Jose at the Met for the first time. The opening night of the run is Feb. 4.
"We want to ensure that the world's greatest singers are performing at the Met in roles that suit them best," Met general manager Peter Gelb said Tuesday.
The last switch by the Met after a season was announced was in 1996-97, when it dropped Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" for the composer's "Un Ballo in Maschera" when Luciano Pavarotti didn't learn the role of Don Alvaro in time.