My kids ask every evening, ‘who’s putting us to bed tonight?’ – A Met musician’s tale.

My kids ask every evening, ‘who’s putting us to bed tonight?’ – A Met musician’s tale.


norman lebrecht

November 20, 2014

The recent existential dispute with Peter Gelb and his board has liberated many musicians in the Metropolitan Opera orchestra to speak freely about their lives, inside and outside the Met. Kari Jane Docter, a cellist, is married to Bruno Eicher, an assistant concertmaster.

She loves her job. Read how much here.


kari jane docter

photo: Pedro Diaz


  • Chris says:

    It’s a lovely account of a musician who loves what she is doing.
    But she should watch out not to loose touch with reality. Uninitiated people out there will have a hard time understanding, why her description of a job with three months off in the summer while being paid, and in the rest of the year having to work 4 shifts a week, some of them up to six hours, in a fully climatized room, and receiving applause at the end of each work day, should be a hard job at all… just saying…

    The hardships lie elsewhere, the psychological pressure can be immense, but actually that’s less of a problem in opera orchestras, due to the lack of visual exposure to the audience.

    It must be a great job, really.

  • stopthemusic says:

    Oh yeah, sitting in that pit several hours a week for 9 months a year, working every night and all day Saturday, hearing all those feet pounding the stage & all that scenery being shoved around behind you–and all that music to learn — now, that’s a glamorous job!!!

    • Chris says:

      Be a bit more grateful. Out of 7 billion people on this planet, probably 99% have a job and life that is worse or much worse.

      • Max says:

        I second that. This woman won the lottery by getting that job (no, really…she did) so I hope for her sake she’s not complaining about anything. If so, well just wait for the firestorm.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    Yup, as soon as I read her description of the performance load as if that were the herculean burden that she suffered through for art, I doubted that many people, in other lines of work, would take pity on her.

    I read a factoid today that only 6% of people ever get their dream job. She has hers.

    Hers is a difficult job but most jobs out there are in some way or they wouldn’t have to pay people to do them.

  • William Safford says:

    If her essay were specifically an attempt to prove that she works very hard at the Met, there is much more she could have added to her posting. For example, I bet she spends hours each day practicing, and probably spends most of the summer practicing in preparation for the season.

    Another example: she didn’t explicate exactly how and why she suffers from “physical problems.”


    We know this. Most people who read that blog probably know this. Most of the general public — the aforementioned “uninitiated people” out there — probably do not.

    Alas, many don’t care, sometimes including Board members of orchestras, opera companies, etc. — but I digress.

  • V.Lind says:

    Yes. Reading the piece, it is clear to me how much work is entailed — over 25 operas, some of vast length — but she does not communicate it to the uninitiated. But, then, it is hardly a complaint about being misunderstood or under-rewarded — just an appreciation of her lot by what seems a charming and positive personality.

  • SVM says:

    The point of Docter’s article is not to compare being a professional orchestral player with other professions or jobs; rather, the author is seeking to draw comparisons between an opera orchestra and a symphony orchestra. The insights she offers are, in my view, well explained and clear, especially when considering that we are dealing with a specialist topic *within* the orchestral profession.

  • Helen says:

    I thought she seems wonderfully positive about her job and appreciative. Descriptions of the music are lovely. Interesting to hear the harder aspects of the job. I didn’t read it as moaning. Shame about the title of the article, sets a scene of negativity.