When the tenor’s late, the conductor sings his role

They are playing Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at Zwickau, in eastern Germany.

All was going well until, on Monday, the lead tenor, Marc-Eric Schmidt, failed to show. Something to do with a train delay, apparently.

Up pops the music director, Leo Siberski, and sings his role on stage.

Repetiteur Mark Johnston deputised in the podium for what is not an easy score.

When the tenor finally turned up, the conductor jumped back into the pit and normal service was resumed.

Like, who needs tenors?

UPDATE: Marc-Eric Schmidt tells us:

Sadly there was an accident with casualties on the train route from Leipzig to Zwickau on said evening.
I must add that the lead tenor role was not mine to sing that evening, I was just the lead tenor of the so called “Liebeslieders” in Sondheim’s A Little Night Music.

share this

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on google
  • The incident reminds me of the slightly related story – whether true or apocryphal I don’t know – about a comment nmade by the late conductor Sir Thomas Beecham. Just before curtain up at Covent Garden the leading tenor was taken ill. The latter’s hysterical wife burst into Beecham’s room gasping, “My husband”(gasp) “can’t” ( further gasp) “sing”! Sir Thomas, well known for the low esteem in which he held most singers, was quite unmoved and simply said in a calm voice, “Ah dear lady, I have known this for years but, tell me, does HE know it?”

    History does not record the reaction to this alleged remark.

  • Now, THAT is what I call a fully functional Musiktheater! Bravo to all.

    As for train delay: this is the lamentable normal in Germany, where public transport on all levels, and much more, has been savagely damaged by Wolfgang Schäuble’s witless and dangerous austerity policy (“Schwarze Null” – Black Zero – feredal government budget), carried on by his social democrat successor as finance minister in the last Merkel cabinet.

    This terrible policy is one of the roots of the increasing illiberal populism destroying democracy all over the West. All the more reason to cheer the brave artists in Zwickau!

  • Interesting to see that in Zwickau they are presenting “A Little Night Music” as “”Das Lächeln einer Sommernacht”. In other words, they’ve gone back to the original Swedish source, the Bergmann film ‘Smiles of a Summer Night’, and translated that into German, rather than call their production “Eine Kleine Nachtmusik”. Suppose they didn’t want to confuse punters who might have been expecting Mozart.

  • Reminds me of a dress rehearsal of Don Giovanni a few years ago when the tenor, Bostridge, acted the part on stage but sang not a note. Don Ottavio was sung from the pit by the conductor, Pappano.

  • >