Forging Forward, Instruments in Hand: Our Critics on the Met Orchestra Streamed Concert (for Parterre Box)

Cameron Kelsall: The Met Stars Live in Concert series has been a balm to many opera lovers, especially as our deprivation of live, in-person performances stretches toward the one-year mark. But the most recent entries in this ongoing string of recitals have taken place with an elephant in the room. As top-tier singers beam into our living rooms from glamorous European locales, matters closer to home are far less happy, with Met stagehands locked out and orchestra members unpaid since April 2020. Controversy arose when the Met hired freelance musicians to accompany its German New Year’s Gala while their contract players collected unemployment. Despite the shutdown, the Met Orchestra is far from silent, as members staged an independent recital as part of its Spotlight Series. The event also featured Angela Gheorghiu, a figure with her own complicated Met history. There’s a lot to talk about here, David: the music-making itself, the circumstances surrounding the concert, and La Gheorghiu’s participation. Where should we start?

David Fox: Well, as Maria von Trapp advises, let’s start at the very beginning—in this case, the opening credits. Within a frame or two, the following statement rolled on screen: “This is a Metropolitan Orchestra Production, not affiliated with the Metropolitan Opera.”  In other words, there would be no pussy-footing around about the situation. There were two distinct sides. In their conversational moments, the Met Orchestra members were utterly charming and earnest. While they said nothing that actively tarred Met management, they also managed to very cleverly reinforce the sense that they—the orchestra—are a family whose lives and livelihoods are imperiled. I found it both moving and very, very sad. A couple of decades ago, one of the treasured New York music subscriptions I kept up was for the Met Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. In those halcyon days, the sense of their prominence in the city’s cultural life was joyous and palpable. And now it’s come to this…

Click here to read the full post on Parterre Box.

Categories: Criticism, Music, PARTERRE BOX

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