Bravo! Metropolitan Opera Understudy Makes His Debut in Jeans and Sneakers After Lead Falls Ill During Performance

Metropolitan Opera Understudy Makes Debut in Jeans and T-shirt
Francesco Anile
Matthew McDermott/Polaris

04/26/2016 AT 10:55 AM EDT

The show must go on, right?

Tenor Francesco Anile made his Metropolitan Opera debut on Saturday in a pair of jeans and sneakers when the lead during a performance of Verdi's Otello couldn't sing in the final acts.

"No time to change. No time for anything," the 54-year-old understudy told the Associated Press.

Anile was in a green room within New York City's Lincoln Center during the last act of the show when Latvian tenor Aleksandrs Antonenko became too sick to continue singing, the AP reports.



A stage director ran into the room and beckoned Anile: "Francesco, come. We need you to sing," NBC New York reports.



Bravo! Metropolitan Opera Understudy Makes His Debut in Jeans and Sneakers After Lead Falls Ill During Performance| Around the Web, Real People Stories

Francesco Anile

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With just five minutes notice and no time to get in costume, Anile threw a black cape over his casual ensemble and stood at the edge of the stage.

"People were a bit surprised, but it was a big surprise for me," Anile told NBC.

Antonenko, who increasingly had trouble with high notes throughout the show, acted the role and mouthed the words as Anile stood right above the orchestra pit, according to the AP.



"When I started to sing, Maestro was surprised," Anile told the AP.

But the conductor soon understood what was going on, and Anile finished out the show.

An announcement was made to the audience after the final curtain call that the evening was Anile's debut.

Then, Anile joined the rest of the cast and bowed in his cape, jeans and sneakers.
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