Many amusing stories are out there with respect to the pranks that tenors and the like have played on their fellow performers. One particular time this was played on a very famous soprano by an equally famous tenor. The two alleged participants are Enrico Caruso and Dame Nellie Melba.
The scene is set in “La Boheme” Rodolfo the tenor is in his room, when a knock at the door reveals Mimi asking for a light for her candle which had gone out. In the course of this Mimi loses her key on the floor, and both Rodolfo and Mimi are down on their knees, sweeping the floor with their hand searching for said key.
Then their hands meet each others and Rodolfo takes hold of Mimi,s hand and tells her how cold it feels, thus he goes on to sing the aria “Che Gelida Manina” (your tiny hand is frozen) apparently in one performance Enrico Caruso thrust a hot sausage in Dame Nellie Melba,s hand, and she was less than impressed it has to be said. Later she was alleged to have said.
“The tenor is not a voice, it is a disease”
Well I have to say although i am an amateur tenor, I have thought of playing pranks, and am always up for a laugh. Alas the biggest laugh I had was some years ago when I was about to sing “Che Gelida Manina” and my pianoforte player started playing the introduction to “Vesti Le Giubba” from leoncavallos “I Pagliacci”. I looked at Gerry and he at me mortified hahaha https://rgelogin.com/tos.
I simply said OK Gerry lets try out our newly reconstructed aria and I attempted to start singing “Che Gelida Manina” to the intro and music of “Vesti Le Giubba” needless to say this was a source of great amusement to the audience, after a few seconds I simply smiled at Gerry and said. I think Mr Puccini would rather stick to his version, the crowd erupted and we carried on with the proper music. phew moment saved!!
I wonder what stories of pranks and tricks may come out over the years for my favourite tenor of the moment Rolando Villazon. Undoubtedly he is very friendly and full of energy and potential mischief, Time will tell. Meanwhile why not enjoy his version of Che Gelida Manina right here with Anna Netrebko as a wonderfull Mimi.