When your understudy overperforms

Spare a thought for the Polish baritone Mariusz Kwiecień, engaged at Dallas Opera to sing Don Giovanni. Sick through much of the rehearsal period, he seemed fine by the dress rehearsal but then missed the opening night.

His understudy Craig Verm scored a career-altering debut in the role.

Mariusz was then faced with singing the rest of the run in the shadow of his triumphant understudy.

Well, what would you do?

 

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  • Both Leonard Bernstein and Erik Bruhn (the famous classical dancer of the fifties and sixties) got their big breaks when performing as an understudy.

  • I know I’m late to this discussion, but I saw Verm’s performance on the opening night of the run. I’d also seen Kwiecien perform the Don in Chicago, in the same production that Dallas brought over. Verm sang well and looked good, but sorry, he was no “threat” to Kwieien’s mastery of the role. He did not have any complexity in interpretation, none of the menace or anger that Kwiecien brings to the role. Verm needs way more maturity to inhabit the Don fully.

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