Leonora flies in with 10 minutes to spare

Leonora flies in with 10 minutes to spare


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2018

Yesterday, on the morning of the opening of Finland’s big Beethoven festival, Johanna Rusanen called in sick with acute bronchitis. Unable to find another soprano in Helsinki, the festival phoned the experienced Erika Sunnegårdh at her home in Vienna.

Her flight took off at 1430.

She  arrived at the Helsinki Music Center – with her dog, Maestro, in tow – exactly ten minutes before the performance began. Pausing only for a quick glance at the tempi of ”Abscheulicher” with conductor Hannu Lintu, she got into costume, came onstage and sang a tremendous Leonore.

Big hand for Erika.



  • Jessie Harrington says:

    Bravo to Erika Sunnegardh for her performance and to the politicians and bureaucrats who saw the advantages of a free world without visas and work permits.

    • Ellingtonia says:

      Blood hell, I didn’t realise that Brexit had brought disease, famine, pestilence and also sore throats………thank god for those bureaucrats who fought off all these, I can now rest easy in my bed!

  • Mr. Schwa says:

    What kind of second-rate festival or company would not have a cover available to go on?? Making their story public makes them look provincial. Especially in the case of such a demanding role.

    • Mark says:

      No. Opera houses/festivals are not like a theatre production that employs understudies/cover. Not even Covent Garden (or maybe you think ROH is 2nd rate too).

  • Mr. Schwa says:

    Opera companies hire covers. Your comment is without a doubt the most stupid I have ever read or heard. The Met/Lyric Opera of Chicago/San Francisco Opera etc. ALL cover EVERY role. The cover budget is always huge. Cover casts get weeks of rehearsal. I don’t know or care what ROH does, but I am sure they use covers. The Fidelity crisis in Finland reveals the festival to be second-rate, and clueless, naive, ignorant people like yourself deserve a second-rate performance if you are dumb enough to pay for a ticket. Incredible stupidity.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      Mr. Schwa says: “The cover budget is always huge”

      And there is exactly why many festivals don’t have a cover. It can be the case that either the festival takes place without a cover or there is no festival.

      In Europe, there are so many performers just a short-hop flight away, that mostly someone can be found at short notice when the need arises. In the US, this isn’t really true hence the need for covers at the major venues.

      • Mr. Schwa says:

        Well-stated and fair enough. You make good, informative points. I do think that the European houses and festivals at least keep tabs on ‘who is where’, etc., in case of emergency. But, come to think of it, some money is perhaps not well allocated covering so many singers in the USA,etc.

  • John Borstlap says:

    Wonderful achievement of professionality. It reminds me of an American pianist (forgot the name) who had a delayed flight and arriving straight from the airport, in his regular clothes, ran onto the stage just in time for an excellent Ravel left hand concerto, using his right hand to wipe the sweat from his face.