Wagner’s Ring Cycle was plunged into chaos at London’s Royal Opera House last week, when Australian soprano Lisa Gasteen signed off ill at 7pm on Thursday evening. She had been due to go on stage the following night to sing the role of Brünnhilde in Die Walküre, but felt unable to do so. With less than 24 hours to find a new singer, who knew the part of Brünnhilde and more importantly was available at such short notice, it wasn’t going to be an easy task.

English soprano Susan Bullock was the preferred choice, but she was singing the same role in a production of Siegfried that night, in Lyon. But a rare stroke of luck meant that Lyon Opera had moved that particular performance to the previous day due to a transport strike in France. Bullock got the call at 11:30pm, spoke to the ROH’s musical director, Antonio Pappano, and boarded a flight to London at 8am the next morning. She arrived at Covent Garden two hours later, rehearsed the entire score and was ready to go on for the evening performance of Die Walküre! Who says Opera is for softies?!