There was panic at La Scala Friday night when, minutes before the curtain rose on I due Foscari, the conductor Michele Mariotti came down with a high fever and flu symptoms.
What to do?
The tenor Francesco Meli remembered that there was a young guy from Milan who had assisted in a Foscari he had sung with Antonio Pappano at Covent Garden. Someone found a phone number for Michele Gamba.
The audience was told the performance would start 15 minutes late.
Michele Gamba, 32, jumped into a taxi and raced for La Scala.
First reports say the performance was outstanding.
Michele’s c.v.: Michele Gamba was a member of the Jette Parker Young Artists Programme 2012–14 and was Jette Parker Associate Conductor for the 2014/15 Season. He made his Royal Opera House conducting debut with Bastien und Bastienne in Meet the Young Artists Week 2012 and subsequently conducted Berio’s Folk Songs in Meet the Young Artists Week 2013, two lunchtime concerts with Southbank Sinfonia and excerpts from Eugene Onegin and Così fan tutte (Act I) in the JPYAP summer performances. He also acted as assistant conductor on La Fille du régiment and joined The Royal Opera’s music staff for Siegfried, Götterdämmerung,La bohème, Eugene Onegin, Written on Skin, Simon Boccanegra, La rondine, Les Vêpres siciliennes, Parsifal, Carmen, La traviata, Tosca, Dialogues des Carmélites and Ariadne auf Naxos, Anna Nicole, I due Foscari, Tristan und Isolde, Andrea Chénier, Król Roger and Guillaume Tell.