Opera singer performs Schubert song while undergoing brain surgery

12 November 2019, 15:37

Opera singer performs Schubert during brain surgery
Opera singer performs Schubert during brain surgery. Picture: Ambrož Bajec-Lapajne

By Sian Moore

A Slovenian tenor sings a passage from a Schubert song cycle, while undergoing surgery for a brain tumour at the University Medical Center in Utrecht.

This powerful video shows an opera singer belting out a song from Schubert’s Winterreise, as he undergoes brain surgery.

Slovenian tenor Ambrož Bajec-Lapajne is awake as the doctors perform a craniotomy to remove a brain tumour – all without any anaesthetic.

During the operation, Ambrož needed to stay awake so surgeons could test brain function. So, they arranged a piano accompaniment and asked him to sing.

Watch him sing Schubert’s ‘Gute Nacht’ in the video below.

awake craniotomy with singing and talking

The tenor sings two couplets (the first and last) from the song – a section from Schubert’s song cycle Winterreise.

All seems well until around 02:45 in the video when Ambrož falters, as doctors probe an area which shouldn’t be disturbed.

Read more: These musicians keep on making music… in the middle of major surgery >

Ambrož was diagnosed with a brain tumour in 2014, and underwent the craniotomy that same year.

The video of him singing during the surgery has over 1.5 million views on YouTube, with more than 500 comments from well-wishers.

A year after it was posted, Ambrož shared an update on his recovery in the description of the video, saying: “It’s been more than a year since and I’m doing fine, continuing my professional singing career.”

This isn’t the first time a musician has been filmed performing during brain surgery – Naomi Elishuv, a violinist, played Mozart throughout her surgery; and Carlos Aguilera played the saxophone as surgeons worked on his exposed brain.