Opera ‘saved’ by 28-year-old tenor as star performer falls ill during Tosca performance

9 December 2021, 13:53 | Updated: 9 December 2021, 14:38

Freddie De Tommaso steps in as star tenor falls ill during Tosca performance
Freddie De Tommaso steps in as star tenor falls ill during Tosca performance. Picture: Getty/Tristram Kenton

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A young British tenor steps in to save the day, at the Royal Opera House...

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British tenor Freddie de Tommaso, who has been described as a “vocal phenomenon”, made his unexpected debut at the Royal Opera House on Wednesday night.

Midway through a performance of Puccini’s Tosca, the tenor playing Mario Cavaradossi had to bow out for health reasons.

De Tommaso, 28, who wasn’t due to sing the lead role until Saturday, jumped in at the last minute, and by all accounts brought the house down.

His performance, which made him the youngest tenor ever to sing the role at the opera house, was hailed by a critic for The Times as a “had to be there” moment.

American tenor Bryan Hymel, who had been playing Cavaradossi, has been a regular at Covent Garden since making his debut in 2010 as Don José, in Carmen.

Read more: What do the new COVID-19 restrictions mean for the arts this winter?

De Tommaso’s stand-in made him the first British tenor to sing the role of Cavaradossi for 60 years – since Charles Craig in 1963. The British-Italian tenor will perform the role again at Covent Garden on 11, 14 and 17 December.

In a strange parallel, the great Luciano Pavarotti also made his Royal Opera House debut as an understudy, stepping in at the last minute 58 years ago to perform in La bohème.

De Tommaso gained the classical world’s attention when he took home three prizes, including First Prize and the Verdi Prize, at the 2018 Viñas International Singing Competition in Barcelona.

When the opera star released his debut album Passione last year, it reached No.1 in the classical charts, making De Tommaso the first solo tenor to debut at number one in 20 years.

This year, Classic FM’s Alexander Armstrong held a long-running feature called ‘Friday De Tommaso’, starring De Tommaso singing his debut single ‘Addio Sogni di Gloria’.