The Met Chorus's schedule is, in a word, a nightmare for administrators. Between musical rehearsals, staging rehearsals, solo coachings, costume fittings, and the fact that at any given time we're rehearsing (and performing) no fewer than 6 shows at once, you might wonder how we keep it all together? Well, meet Dan Hoy, who performs the unsung role of Chorus Administrator with aplomb (thanks, in part, to his experience in the extra chorus!).
by Sara Heaton
Seeing a high school performance of Annie Get Your Gun was what did it. Daniel Hoy was only in kindergarten, but he walked out of that show knowing he was destined for a life in the theater. He developed his baritone voice and built an impressive singing career in both opera and musical theater. But he never could have imagined that his pursuits would land him his current role as the Administrator of the Metropolitan Opera Chorus.
Met audiences have heard Dan in the Extra Chorus for the past 11 years. His first performance was Lohengrin in 2006, and he has joined the chorus for countless others since then, including the Japan Tour in the summer of 2011, which he called, “one of the best three weeks of my life. I never thought I would get to Asia or have that opportunity.”
Then, last spring, a new opportunity at The Met presented itself. Former administrator Steve Losito was soon to retire, and Dan decided to throw his hat in the ring for the position. Given his love for the stage, Dan surprised even himself by considering a job that would take him behind the scenes, but soon realized that it was meant to be.
“I thought about it and decided to take a leap of faith. It was an opportunity I never, ever considered. But I love helping. I really enjoy being around people. It can be a stressful environment here, and I like to be able to keep it calm, keep things in perspective.”
One of his strongest deciding factors was the chance to work with Chorus Master Donald Palumbo. “I have huge respect for him, and to work with him everyday is a true pleasure. He really cares so much and works so hard, it’s kind of unbelievable. I’ve learned a lot.”
In less than a year, Dan has proven himself more than fit for the monstrous role of Chorus Administrator. Every week he coordinates with the Rehearsal Department, Maestro Palumbo, and the two chorus managers (Kurt Phinney and Stephen Paynter, who are also members of the chorus) to solidify the following week’s schedule. Once that is finalized, he builds the document that will be distributed to the choristers so everyone knows where, and when, they need to be (I would bet that every chorister carries a copy of this with them at all times!). He also communicates and schedules all fittings with the costume department, and communicates daily with stage managers and directors regarding chorus attendance. Dan manages the yearly chorus auditions, fielding submissions from over 500 singers at a time, and is the auditioners’ main contact. If that wasn’t enough, he also builds and maintains most of the supporting documents for the upcoming season schedule (which is already in the works!), and disseminates all relevant information to the Regular and Extra Chorus.
All this work that Dan is in charge of is just one small part of the inner workings at the Met. There can be six operas being rehearsed in the building at any one time, each one with sets, costumes, props, technical requirements, stage directors, stage managers, and more. “The amount of planning to coordinate all those schedules is mind-melting. There are so many moving parts, it’s like a Swiss watch.”
He continues singing as his busy schedule allows, but there is no denying that taking on this job was a huge transition from his past life as solely a freelance singer. Yet, it has yielded some unexpected and profound realizations. “I feel like I have a much bigger impact on the Met as an institution in this role than I ever would as a chorister. In the chorus, you obviously have an incredible legacy and what you do is highly important, but I didn’t expect this opportunity to have an impact on the institution in this way, and that’s very exciting.”
Sara Heaton began her Met career in 2014 in the Extra Chorus, and joined as a full time member in 2016. When not singing, Sara enjoys cooking, gardening, exploring the outdoors, and tasting her husband’s cocktail creations. They’re proud to make their home in Beacon, NY in the beautiful Hudson Valley.