ABOUT MUSIC STAFF
Preparing the Metropolitan Opera’s enormous repertoire poses a tremendous challenge due to the intensity of the work and the lengthy season. Helping to meet the challenge is one of the most intrepid groups of musicians in New York City – the Metropolitan Opera Music Staff.
Represented by the American Federation of Musicians, Local 802, the current Staff numbers forty-eight members who are contracted for specific productions. Individual contracts specify a wide range of responsibilities to be covered by the eleven full-time and thirty-seven part-time members. Though all are designated either as assistant/associate conductors, staff pianists, or diction coaches according to their specific skill sets, their unique responsibilities in the rehearsal process contribute the first points of musical contact between singers, dancers, directors, and the MET Opera at the beginning of each production preparation.
Cover Conductors lead rehearsals musically in the absence of the principal conductor and are prepared to lead performances, in case of emergency.
Prompters assist the cover conductor in preparing and coaching singers, as well as prompting (reminding of the upcoming text) during rehearsals and performances.
Pianists/Repetiteurs help to prepare and coach singers, playing the orchestra reductions in staging and musical rehearsals. They sometimes perform keyboard parts in the pit or backstage, playing recitative accompaniment and conducting backstage, as needed.
Ballet Pianists play for ballet rehearsals and classes, singing cues as needed to rehearse dance sequences.
Diction Coaches are hired according to the specific language of a given opera and work to achieve idiomatic pronunciation and language usage by the singers.
Once an opera begins a run of performances, the work of the Music Staff continues. Assistant conductors, cover conductors and prompters attend performances, helping with singer warmups, corrections from the dress rehearsal or previous performances, or by assisting in case of a cast change. By working to ensure that a high musical level is maintained through the entire run of an opera, the Music Staff completes the process begun on the first day.
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