Sally-Anne Russell steps in to save the day after soloist falls ill.

The Royal Melbourne Philharmonic presented a night to remember for more than just Daniel Carison, who won the top honour of the evening, the prestigious 2014 RMP Aria.

The feature performance of the Mozart Requiem, to be presented after the Aria Final, was thrown into doubt as the alto soloist Lotte-Betts Dean was struck with illness in the moments before taking the stage. Within minutes, acclaimed mezzo-soprano Sally-Anne Russell left her position as aria judge to perform in the soloists’ place, the manifestation of “the show must go on”.

Daniel Carson, 21 year old bass-baritone, impressed the sold-out audience and won over the judges’ bench, where Sally-Anne Russell was joined by RMP Chief Conductor Andrew Wailes, leading music educator Professor Mel Waters and RMP Chief Accompanist Stefan Cassomenos. In addition to the future performance opportunities with the Royal Melbourne Philharmonic that will open to the young bass-baritone, the top honour came with a $2,000 cash prize.

Counter-tenor Maximilian Riebl was awarded the runner up prize and $1000, while third prize winner, bass-baritone Jeremy Kleeman won $600, as well as taking out people’s choice award for an additional $300 prize. Both young men will also be eligible for future performance opportunities with the RMP.

Baritone Michael Lampard took out the Conductor’s Encouragement Award of $200, and other placegetters shared in a prize pool including professional photographic packages, recording sessions and language coaching scholarships.

The conclusion of the evening, Mozart’s Requiem with superb stand-in soloist Sally-Anne Russell included more than 180 singers in the RMP Festival Choir, accompanied by the RMP Orchestra. Former RMP Aria favourites performed solos, including soprano Emily Ulrich, second runner-up from 2007, tenor Daniel Todd, winner from 2011, and bass Nicholas Dinapoulos, 2009 runner up, showing the talent of the night where their success could take them.