A Met tenor comes out with a proposal

A Met tenor comes out with a proposal


norman lebrecht

January 08, 2018

Met Heldentenor Clay Hilley was winding up a recital on Saturday at the Wagner Society of New York when his final encore took an unexpected twist:

It was the 31st birthday of his beloved Sara Duchovnay, an unmissable opportunity to propose.

Sara is a soprano, co-founder of Shoperatic LLC. She says: ‘I think it’s safe to say that this was the best birthday I’ve ever had.’



  • Bruce says:

    Aw, that’s adorable.

    (And going for a high C while sinking down onto one knee indicates pretty darn good support as well as nerves of steel)

    • Sue says:

      Isn’t going down on one knee a bit of a cliche in this day and age? As I consider equality between the sexes necessary and desirable I don’t think this gesture is necessarily a sign of that equality.

      • Jaime weisenblum says:

        No Sue, it is not cliche or wrong at all!!
        It is a very good old fashioned way of respecting women and it was obviously
        something that he felt the desire to do.
        Therefore let us all enjoy and share the moment and stop the criticism…

        • Nicholas says:

          It seems to me that the ‘unequal’ bit is that the man more or less always proposes to the woman (in heterosexual relationships). That seems to me a tradition that ought to have had its day, and should be changed to ‘the first one to ask the question’ instead. However, the going down on one knee by whichever potential partner is absolutely lovely and, surely, not inappropriate when you are asking another human being to share the whole of the rest of his or her life with you. That’s one heck of a supplication, after all.

          • Zelda Macnamara says:

            It’s fun, its cute, and it goes with the glittery jacket. I am quite PC most of the time but there are moments when that doesn’t matter. (And I do let men hold doors open for me, and thank them. And sometimes I hold doors open for men. So what?)

          • Sue says:

            “Share his life with you”? Oh, so it’s about HIS life now?

        • Bruce says:

          “However, the going down on one knee by whichever potential partner is absolutely lovely and, surely, not inappropriate when you are asking another human being to share the whole of the rest of his or her life with you.”

          Sue, a tip: if you’re going to misquote someone, it’s best not to do it where the original remark is visible to all. Just something to keep in mind for next time. 🙂


          My thought about the going-down-on-one-knee thing is: it’s old-fashioned, but everybody seems to love it. I’ve seen (in news reports, anyway) gay couples of both sexes, and the woman proposing on one knee to the man, besides the usual version shown above. I suppose if someone were to say “No, I won’t marry you if you insist on reinforcing the patriarchal hegemony, embodying all that is wrong with our society,” then it probably wouldn’t be broadcast far & wide since people usually prefer to keep failed proposals private.

          • Sue says:

            Sadly, for your argument and in this instance, it clearly IS a male.

          • Bruce says:

            ^ LOL. Actually if you read Nicholas’ post, you can see he’s talking about a person of whatever sex, asking a person of whatever sex to share the rest of their life with them.

            In “this instance” (I assume you mean the tenor and his now fiancee), it’s a man asking a woman if SHE will share the rest of HER life with HIM. I suppose it is about his life too, since if she said no he would be sad; but I’m not quite sure where you’re getting the “all about HIS life” idea.

      • Katie says:

        Go home, Sue.

        • Sue says:

          How about answering the question I posed below? I remember an episode of a reality TV show in Australia called “The Farmer Takes a Wife”. He went down on one knee on national TV but she had to leave him because he was violent. Respect huh? More like theatre.

          • Sue says:

            I’m so sorry I’m just really depressed and lonely and the only thing I enjoy is trolling classical music websites! Not even my therapist likes talking to me!

          • John says:

            Based on your behavior on these threads, I wouldn’t doubt the veracity of that statement for a second.

          • Sue says:

            It’s true. High notes also just make me mad because I typically lose control of my bowels when hearing high notes. So that combined with my sadness over being eternally alone made me very upset at this video. I apologize for my rudeness

      • Mr. Schwa says:

        Get over yourself. Enough feminist idiocy. Time to shut up. Thanks.

  • Sue says:

    What is the answer is “No” or “I want to think about it”?

    • Pianofortissimo says:

      If she answers ‘no’ he will not sing any encore.

      • Sue says:

        He put her in the position of NOT being able to say no. That’s my beef.

        • David Salazar says:

          You don’t even know these people. And you are passing judgement on them? Maybe she was hoping he’d propose. Maybe she likes a good old-fashioned proposal?

          Maybe you didn’t know that they live together in an RV that they bought together and have driven around the country several times? Maybe you didn’t know that they have been talking about getting married for some time.

          I happen to know both of them personally and can assure you that there was none of your PC business running around their heads. Maybe try and see things from other perspectives and get out of your tunnel vision. Maybe you’ll live a happier life.

        • Bruce says:

          You should see if there’s a way to press charges for sexual harassment against him — after all, it’s documented right there on video, almost as if he’s proud of his behavior. It’s an outrage.

          • Sue says:

            Real nuance there, and a troll who couldn’t argue anything at all because he was pretending to use my moniker. No arguments at all; just emotion and abuse. Well done boys!! No wonder you want to return to the age of fairy tales. Do you have a glass slipper too? Perhaps a coach made out of pumpkin for your bride, and some sparkles. That’s romantic!!

          • Sue-zanne says:

            BRUCE… great idea maybe you should buy Sue some Sparkle Twins shoes so she’ll believe in love and fairytales you seem like a good guy! We like you. We don’t like Sue. She’s an odious troll…..


          • Kathy says:

            Sue, did you read David’s comment? He did answer your question.

  • Ursula Hahn says:

    why spoil the fun? A little humor is in order!

    • Bruce says:

      “Why spoil the fun?” That’s like asking a wolf why he wants to huff & puff & blow houses down.

      • Sue says:

        These very public gestures have the potential to go hugely awry, for the aforesaid reason I mentioned; the woman may not want to marry that man in the Mr. Pearly jacket.

        • Sue says:

          By the way, I guess you didn’t happen to glance the grimace from the woman sitting next to the “fiance” on her phone!! Didn’t think so.

          • Bruce says:

            I watched it again — saw the person with the cell phone, but didn’t catch anyone looking anything other than happy. Where is the grimace?

  • Brendan says:

    Sue loves Buxtehude. She hates romantic music. She definitely hates romantic moments. She enjoys long walks to the pharmacy and invading her local church’s organ console to criticize the interpretation of grace notes.

  • Jumbo says:

    Sorry if I’m spoiling anyone’s “fun” but I’m sick to death of these narcissists who hijack public events for their own selfish needs.
    If I’m paying to witness a published program of culture I don’t want or expect a private moment to infiltrate that program.
    Bended knee or not….It’s SO vulgar.

    • Sue says:

      Bravo. The age of spectacle and superficiality rules and some of us are calling it out.

      • Brendan says:

        The only thing vulgar or superficial is the sanctimonious pearl clutching from you two curmudgeons. This guy didn’t hijack anything, it was his recital. Who hurt you two?

        • Sue says:

          Nobody; we are asking about some professionalism. But keep up the emotion instead of the argument as it’s obviously working for you.

          • Brendan says:

            You are absolutely not interested in whether or not personal moments, encores, or taking a knee are professional.
            It is obvious that your sole interest is a self serving piety to nurture your own emotional holes.
            When you are a professional, you can perform in very boring early music recitals for your cats, nurses, and hallucinations.

        • Sue says:

          And, by the way, it’s wonderful to be able to afford high-quality pearls to clutch!!!

          • Brendan says:

            Sue! If you can afford nice pearls, you can afford a better therapist! Wishing you well.

          • Sue says:

            Thanks Brendan, and on the advice of the other comments, I’ve decided to get back in the dating game and search for a man with similar interests, like smelling like mothballs and soaking his feet at night. Who knows, if it works out, I might even kneel down and propose to him!

    • Bruce says:

      “Bended knee or not….It’s SO vulgar.”

      Well, if the lady said yes, then she’s just as vulgar as he is, and they can live a happy vulgar life together. Once you’ve recovered from the injury of someone proposing marriage at a recital you didn’t go to, perhaps you can look for the silver lining and thank the Lord that at least these two vulgarians are off the market.

      P.S. Congratulations to the happy vulgarians 🙂

  • Alvin says:

    Clay Hilley isn’t listed in the Met Archives. Perhaps he covers there, but calling him a Met Heldentenor I say a bit deceptive, no? Maybe he’s performing this season?

    • Bruce says:


      If the “(c)” means “cover,” then it looks like he’s covering Parsifal there this season.

      It’s not a bad gig. I have a friend who does it sometimes: you have to stay within a radius of X miles of the Met for a couple of hours, say 7-9pm if the show is at 8. If they haven’t called you when time is up, you can go home, and they pay you a thousand bucks. She found a nice cafe just inside the radius — she goes there and drinks tea with lemon, or whatever singers drink when they might have to sing, and then goes home. (And of course, the Met has to consider you a good enough/ experienced enough singer to appear on their stage and perform the role without rehearsal, so it’s quite a feather in someone’s cap.)

    • Susan B says:

      Yes, Hilley is the Met’s Parsifal cover for Klaus Florian Vogt, who made HIS Met debut as a cover (Lohengrin in 2006). He’s also the Siegfried/Sigmund cover for next summer’s San Francisco Ring. At his recital I heard a big, bright tenor, with strong high notes, good stamina (if you can tell from a recital), clear diction, and dramatic involvement. He’s a secure and appealing performer. He just needs a little more seasoning but he’s got the goods.

  • Trevor says:

    To the haters:

    Clay Hilley is a MFing boss and his fiancé is the most perfect queen he could ever ask to marry him. Can you put your own loneliness and failures aside and just be happy for someone? Ok I’m finished and I’m done.

    You’re welcome.

    • RW2013 says:

      Is MFing MetFaking ?

      • Ignatius says:

        Consult your favorite MET program from the 2017-2018 season (that is if you actually attend….which is doubtful). Under the tenor heading you’ll spy the majestic name, listed remarkably in the same exact typeface as Placido Domingo and Roberto Alagna, the majestic name of Clay Hilley. Know this name and fear it; It will haunt your dreams.

      • RobMcTenor says:

        Ya know, many of us who sing at the Met started as a cover! Just because some of you don’t value it, it’s still working for the Met!

        • RW2013 says:

          So ya (sic) all don’t know what MFing is either 🙁
          I’ve heard that American singers try out their roles at the Met before daring to perform them in Gelsenkirchen or Halberstadt…

  • Soo says:

    “When not seeking opportunities to kill joy wherever I find it, I enjoy visiting restaurants, where I order glasses of water with lemon and make lemonade with the sugar packets, eat all the jam in those little packets, and leave without buying anything or leaving a tip.” — from Sue’s Match.com ad.

  • Blake says:

    These two people are good people who live and respect each other and make the world a better place with their art, their relationship, and their community activism. All of this speculation as to their motives, talent or regard for one another is mean spirited and foolish and utterly incorrect. I am inspired by their love and their willingness to share it and I am proud that partnerships like this exist in the crazy and stressful world of classical music. Trolls are just trolls. Love always wins.

  • Chris says:

    Dear Sue,

    I know you are trolling just to troll but don’t you have something more productive to do with your life. Obviously it is not my business what you do with your time (because you sure have a ton of it on your hands), but I can assure that this is not the best or highest use of your abilities. And if it is, then I advise you to seek out a mental specialist. You make contradictory and incoherent statements clearly intended to create controversy.

    In any case, get well. I hope you find some peace in your life and can find a way to make a positive contribution to humanity.



  • Jess says:

    Just shut up, Sue. It was a beautiful moment, not yours to be a “Debbie downer” about, seriously, learn a manner or two.