Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Opera performer injured, but show must, and does, go on

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Even a serious injury to one of the principal singers onstage at the Centennial Concert Hall Tuesday night couldn't stop La Bohème from reaching its legendary mournful conclusion.

Not long before Mimi succumbed to consumption in Act 4 of the Manitoba Opera production, Saskatchewan baritone Peter McGillivray's young artist character, Schaunard, was dancing around when he jumped onto a flimsy-looking kitchen chair, which collapsed, sending him to the floor. The fall hurt his leg, an injury he attempted to conceal until he made it to the edge of the stage, where he was assisted into the wings. Another actor went on in his place so the rest of the cast could complete the Puccini tear-jerker.

McGillivray, making his MO debut, didn't break his leg but he was taken to hospital, where he was scheduled for surgery on April 9, said a company publicist.

"A lot of people who don't know the opera -- and La Bohème always brings in a lot of new people -- might not even have noticed, because there wasn't any pause and the show went on," says Darlene Ronald.

Opera executive director Larry Desrochers was burning up the telephone lines April 9, talking to scores of agents in a hunt for a substitute Schaunard to complete the run on April 11. Like most local stage troupes, MO does not have understudies ready to take over in case a performer is unable to go on. A fill-in singer by the name of Alexandre Sylvestre was found in Montreal. The bass-baritone was to arrive in Winnipeg Wednesday evening followed by costume-fittings and rehearsals Thursday and his MO debut Friday.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 10, 2014 C16

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