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Performance and Pedagogy Blog

A blog about the performance and pedagogy of music.

Can You Fill In With Only Five Minutes Warning?

Andrew Hitz

Filed under *always* be ready. From the Washington Post:

NEW YORK — Francesco Anile got to make his Metropolitan Opera debut in a T-shirt, blue jeans and sneakers. With 5 minutes notice.

The 54-year-old Italian tenor was in the green room during the last act of Saturday’s performance of Verdi’s “Otello,” which was being broadcast on radio throughout the world, when he was told by a stage director that Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko was sick and unable to sing the title role in the fourth act.

Five minutes warning to take the stage as the star of the opera. With the Metropolitan Opera. Wearing blue jeans and sneakers. You can't make this stuff up.

You always have to be ready for the call. You might never get a second one.

In fact, just last week I was able to attend the dress rehearsal of the Washington National Opera's production of Siegfried. The understudy had to fill in for Brünnhilde because the soprano playing that role twisted her ankle badly during a scene in the Die Walküre dress rehearsal.

The understudy filled in with just a few minutes notice during the Die Walküre rehearsal and sang the entire role in the Siegfried dress. You just never know when your number is going to come up.

I got a call at my apartment in Tempe, Arizona at around 9:00 pm on a Tuesday back in January of 2000. It was the Boston Brass asking if I could sub for them in an emergency situation. At 5:00 am the next morning I was checking in for a flight to Colorado. I proceeded to play with them for 14 years.

You never know when the call is coming. Are you ready?

Here's the full article from the Washington Post.

EDIT: My friend James Hicks, Principal Tuba in the Navy Band, read this and posted this as a comment on my Facebook page:

"I was once teaching lessons in the northwest Chicago suburbs and got a call from Gene (Pokorny of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra) at 10am to come in and play Till (Eulenspiegel) on the 3pm matinee that afternoon. Also, got called one Sunday morning at 11am to drive up to Milwaukee to sightread a John Williams program with MSO on a 3pm matinee. You never know...."

You truly never know!