The majority of singers or musicians who make their debut on the big stage know about it many days, if not weeks, in advance. But that wasn’t the case for Italian tenor Francesco Anile.
The 54-year-old was called in at such short notice to sing the third act of Verdi’s Otello at New York’s Metropolitan Opera that he didn’t even have time to change his clothes. So he made his debut in jeans and a t-shirt. “No time to change. No time for anything. For me, it was the biggest surprise,” he said.
The audience gave him a standing ovation for his performance, which lasted about 13 minutes. He stood at the right side of the stage and was illuminated by a spotlight while Latvian Aleksanders Antonenko continued to act the part.
The dramatic debut was brought about when Antonenko’s voice went out in the fourth act. Even the other performers on stage were taken aback. But Anile was the perfect back-up for Otello, having played the character in various performances around the world for eleven years.
Five days later, Anile was given a bit more notice when he was told at lunchtime he would be filling in again for Antonenko, this time for the whole performance. For his second appearance out on the Lincoln Centre stage, he even had long enough to get into costume.