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Audience member steps in to save performance of La Boheme at Royal Opera House

Charles Castronovo singing the role of Rodolfo in a previous production of La Boheme in 2014. Credit: Royal Opera House
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Opera singer Charles Castronovo saved a performance of La Boheme at the Royal Opera House starring his wife Ekaterina Siurina, when he stepped in mid-show to sing the role of her lover.

Siurina was playing the lead role of Mimi, alongside Atalla Ayan as her lover Rodolfo.

When a problem with Ayan’s voice forced him to stop singing, Castronovo, who had been watching from the audience, stood in and sang the role at the side of the stage, while Ayan acted it.

Audience members, including actor and comedian Stephen Fry, have praised Castronovo for making it a “magical” and “sensationally romantic” evening on July 20.

Author Kathy Lette said on Twitter: “Thank god ⁦@stephenfry⁩ and I wore our waterproof mascara for La Boheme. We blubbed throughout, especially when the tenor’s voice cracked and the soprano’s hubby leapt up out of the audience to take over the role of her lover. Sensationally romantic.”

Fry added: “England desperately needs rain and we did our best to water London with our tears. Congratulations cast, crew orchestra and all @RoyalOperaHouse for a La BooHoo to remember.”

Audience member Kirsteen McCulloch Tweeted a photo of Castronovo, sporting a denim jacket, appearing on stage for the curtain call, calling the evening “magical”.

Twitter user Nicky Enderby added: “It’s the type of thing you can’t make up. Wonderful performance of La Boheme last night with the amazing Charles Castronovo (Mimi’s real life husband) standing in to sing Rodolfo at the interval!”

A spokesman for the Royal Opera House said: “During Friday evening’s performance of Puccini’s La Boheme, tenor Atalla Ayan, singing the role of Rodolfo, developed vocal difficulties in Act II.

“In the interval Atalla decided he was no longer able to carry on singing and the very rare challenge of finding a replacement mid-performance suddenly arose. We were pleased and fortunate that Charles Castronovo was attending the performance as an audience member, supporting his wife Ekaterina Siurina, who was singing the role of Mimi.”

The spokesman added: “We were incredibly grateful that Charles quickly agreed to step in and sing the second half of the performance from the side of the stage, while Atalla walked the role in costume.

“The audience received the news of this change graciously and greeted both Charles and Atalla with a wonderfully warm reception during the curtain call at the end of the performance.”

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