Glyndebourne’s production of Rusalka came to an abrupt halt on Friday when leading soprano Martinez fell into the orchestra pit. As the mermaid in the Hans Christian Anderson-inspired fable, the Puerto Rican singer should have slipped gracefully beneath a moonlit lake during a duet with her prince. Instead, she tripped on a scenic piece of netting and toppled backwards amid gasps of horror from a capacity audience.
Understudy Natasha Jouhl took over the role, while BBC Singer of the World competitor Natalya Romaniw rushed from London to Sussex to make her Glyndebourne debut as the First Nymph, arriving just moments before the curtain rose on the final act. A spokesman said the singer was ‘a little bruised but thankfully fine’, and would be returning to her role at the first opportunity. The production continues until this Friday under the baton of Jiri Belohlavek.
Ana Maria Martinez is not alone in suffering an on-stage injury in recent weeks, however – Joyce DiDonato appeared at Covent Garden in a wheelchair last month after breaking her leg during the first act of Il Barbiere di Sivilgia. The American mezzo bravely continued as Rosina with the aid of a stick, later telling a journalist that in future she would ask ‘no one ever wish me to “break a leg”’.