Happy Opening Day! In baseball, there are often last-minute shuffles to the lineup, and athletes need to step up their game in replacing stars. It's true of classical music, too; one of the genre's most enduring traditions is late substitutions. When Bruno Walter withdrew from a New York Philharmonic concert, he helped launch a young Leonard Bernstein's conducting career. When tenor Vladimir Kuzmenko fell ill during a Pittsburgh Opera performance of "Aida" in 2008, music director Antony Walker sang the role of Radames instead, even while he was still conducting. (Mr. Kuzmenko lip-synched from the stage.)
This past weekend continued that illustrious tradition. Tenor Eric Barry took on a few extra performances of "La Boheme," another Pittsburgh Opera production. Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra music director Manfred Honeck filled in at the last minute for an ailing Gustavo Dudamel to lead the New York Philharmonic in works by Claude Vivier and Bruckner. His performance received a rave review from New York Times critic Anthony Tommasini. Props to all, and happy opening day!