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An Opera Understudy's Chance to Shine

Burak Bilgili
Burak Bilgili

Burak Bilgili was understandably nervous. Last week, without the benefit of a full-stage or orchestra rehearsal, Bilgili made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera as Leporello in Mozart's Don Giovanni.

NPR's Scott Simon talks with the 29-year-old Turkish bass baritone about being asked to fill in at the last minute in front of 4,000 opera aficionados. It was truly the chance of a lifetime and Bilgili made the most of it.

Bilgili "nailed" Leporello's classic Aria No. 4, which describes in glorious detail "the beauties my master has loved" -- Don Giovanni's female conquests. And when he took his solo bow, the audience at the Met roared its appreciation.

Bilgili graduates this month from Philadelphia's Academy of Vocal Arts where he has been studying under Maestro William Schuman.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.
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