The Metropolitan Opera has a loooooong season. We start rehearsal in the end of July, open our first production during the third week of September, and close 8 months later in mid-May; that means the Met chorus and all the other amazing artists and artisans who make the operatic magic happen are rehearsing, performing and creating for 9 ½ months each year!
So what does a member of the Met Opera Chorus do during their 2 ½ months not in the opera house? First and foremost, it’s a time of rest and recovery. A time to let the voice recuperate after a long and sometimes grueling season, to spend time with family and friends, and to travel. But it’s also a time to try new things, experiment, and expand our performing horizons! Choristers travel all over the world in search of new experiences and artistic opportunities. We wanted to take a moment to highlight a few of the exciting summers our choristers had.
by Ned Hanlon
First up, Alexa Jarvis! Seattle native Alexa is a soprano in her second year as a full time member of the chorus. She took some time off from the Big Apple to head to the Windy City to perform with The Ravinia Festival in Bernstein’s Mass. Kevin Newbury directed this “mass”-ive [editor’s note: yay puns!] orchestral theater piece and Alexa performed as part of the 22-voice “Street Chorus,” alongside Paulo Szot who played the “Celebrant.” Happily for all those of us who missed it, the production was filmed for a national broadcast scheduled for 2020.
Bass chorister Ned Hanlon traveled further away from New York than Alexa’s Chicago! During the month of July, Ned served as Assistant Cruise Director aboard the Azamara Journey as the ship cruised the Norwegian coast (including three nights above the arctic circle in the land of the midnight sun) and the British Isles. Responsibilities ranged from performing a solo cabaret show, managing and scheduling all onboard activities, ship-wide announcements, and even calling Bingo! Of course, as a bass voice, he brought more “low C’s” than “high C’s” to the high seas. Still, he created a solo show that told his life story through a combination of opera, operetta, and musical theater. Most importantly, he is now trained to fend off pirate attacks which, presumably, will come in handy the next time the Met performs Bellini’s Il pirata!
First year soprano Rachele Schmiege had a big summer: she moved to New York and prepared to begin her career as a member of the Met Opera Chorus. But that didn’t mean she was going to take a break from performing! Her busy summer included back-to-back-to-back performances of A Handmaid’s Tale with Boston Lyric Opera, Elijah with Cambridge Community Chorus (extra fun because the tenor soloist was her husband), and La belle Helene with Odyssey Opera. After a summer so packed with music, joining the Met chorus might feel like a vacation (even with our 7 show weeks!).
That’s just a few of the exciting summers that members of the Met Opera Chorus enjoyed. Other highlights included tenor Gregory Warren performing the role of Andres in Des Moines Metro Opera’s production of Lulu, soprano Marie Te Hapuku teaching voice for the Summer Academy of Orvieto, and soprano Lianne Coble-Dispensa singing in New York City Ballet’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
With opening night of the 2019-20 season just a few days away it’s fun to look back even while we look forward! Here’s to a wonderful summer and a wonderful season!