Helicopter rescues a Glyndebourne opera

Helicopter rescues a Glyndebourne opera


norman lebrecht

June 23, 2022

At noon on Tuesday, Rodrigo Porras Garulo who sings the role of Marc in Ethel Smyth’s The Wreckers told his Glyndebourne colleagues that his voice was, well, wrecked.

A call was put out for his understudy Adam Gilbert. Nobody else knows the little-performed opera.

But it turned out Gilbert was having a day off, taking his son to watch the seals at Cardigan Island, off the Welsh coast, some 300 miles away.

And the trains were on strike.

What to do?

Glyndebourne has a network of rich friends, some of whom travel by helicopter.

Garulo sang the first act, Gilbert took over the second.

‘I’ve never been in a helicopter before,’ he told BBC Wales.

Glyndebourne said: ‘On 21 June the role of Marc in Acts II and III was walked on stage by Rodrigo Porras Garulo and sung from the side by Adam Gilbert.’




  • Edward says:

    Surely his cover contract required him to be in the vicinity on a show day?

    • Bean says:

      Because the post is incorrect, Gilbert wasn’t the cover – both the main singer and original understudy were unwell.

      • In the know says:

        Not correct either. Main guy sick, cover not in the country, second cover (Gilbert) at home in Wales.

    • SVM says:

      If, hypothetically (I say “hypothetically” because I see, from other comments in this thread, that the hypothetical situation I describe does *not* apply in this particular case), a cover were indeed required to be “in the vicinity” but failed to honour that requirement, could he/she be liable to reimburse whoever pays for transport in the event of getting called in, even if the cost of transport exceeds the fee for the performance?

  • DG says:

    His face getting off the helicopter says “I’ll be telling this story at all cocktail parties in the future”.

  • M McGrath says:

    Cool, happy story. Thank you.

  • helicopters are fun says:

    The whirlybird catches the erm….

    Next stunt will be to blast into a gig on a hovercraft.

    • SVM says:

      Well, perhaps they should do something from Stockhausen’s /Licht/, which requires one to perform from a helicopter.

  • Althea T-H says:

    The BBC article seems unclear as to how many understudies there were.

    It veers between one and two.

  • Stephen Ratcliffe says:

    He was the second cover. I was there and he did very well getting a huge ovation at the end. Quite a day for him.

  • ML says:

    I hope the helicopter pilot and owner got an ovation too!