In Don Pasquale, a striking orchestra is replaced by solo piano

In Don Pasquale, a striking orchestra is replaced by solo piano


norman lebrecht

November 19, 2017

The Basque National Orchestra went on strike yesterday over various failings of its management.

The timing was unfortunate, coinciding with the opening night of Don Pasquale at Bilbao Opera.

Instead of cancelling the performance, the opera house engaged an American pianist, James Vaughan, to play the score in a performance conducted by Roberto Abbado.

The orchestra players were meeting meanwhile in San Sebastian.

Sometimes, life can be stranger than opera.



  • pianoronald says:

    James Vaughan is a well-known Irish pianist, not American.

  • Bruce says:

    When I was a youngster, the Seattle Symphony went on strike and we went to hear Don Giovanni (featuring Sherill Milnes) with 2 pianos in the pit. I remember thinking it was actually kind of cool since it was never difficult to hear any of the singers.

  • Gerhard says:

    I have trouble to understand what you mean when you write: “the timing was unfortunate”. When should a strike take place in your opinion if an orchestra sees the need for one? On a free day? You yourself reported more than a week ago that a strike had been announced for November 18. It seems that management had plenty of time to make this strike unnecessary.

    • Edoardo says:

      I once sit though a performance of Acis and Galatea by Handel (in the arrangement by Mozart) played on two pianos. The orchestra went on strike and the conductor (Johantan Webb, if remember correclty) and the cembalo player played the opera on two pianos, both reading from the orchestral score. It was a very interesting experience.

    • rita says:

      yes, well said, Gerhard!