From The Daily Mail…

A member of a West End opera audience told today how he felt faint with nerves when he was asked to step in to sing the lead role after the star lost his voice. Paul Whelan, 38, rescued the opening- night production of Donizetti’s Lucia di Lammermoor at the English National Opera, when bass Clive Bayley, who is playing the chaplain, suffered a chest infection.

Mr Whelan, a bass baritone with the ENO who is appearing in Madam Butterfly, started the evening with his wife and friends in the auditorium.

However, shortly before the performance was due to start, casting director Paul McMurray told the audience that Mr Bayley had a chest infection but planned to “sing with difficulty”.

Mr Bayley battled through the first scene but was barely able to speak by the end.

A stage manager found Mr Whelan and asked him to cover for the next two hours. Mr Whelan said: “When they asked me to stand in I felt a bit sick and faint. I went and got a banana to eat and warmed up my voice, then got on with it. It was probably the nerves.