Met in shock as key executive is felled by stroke

Met in shock as key executive is felled by stroke


norman lebrecht

January 29, 2018

We hear on the New York opera grapevine that Robert Rattray, Assistant General Manager, Artistic, at the Metropolitan Opera, is in hospital after suffering a stroke at the weekend.

His family are being flown out to his bedside.

Rattray, a former joint head of the AskonasHolt agency in London, was appointed in 2014 to succeed Sarah Billingshurst as, in effect, the Met’s chief talent and casting officer.

In his 60s, Rattray is an unmatched repository of experience and contacts.

The inner world of New York opera is in shock.


UPDATE: Rattray dies without regaining consciousness.



  • Tom Graham says:

    Very sad news indeed. Robert was a force in the music business from his time as a young apprentice at Ibbs & Tillett [where he liked to claim he carried Andre Segovia’s guitar] to an owner of Lies Askonas Ltd, a director of Askonas/Holt and then at the Metropolitan Opera. Robert managed the careers of many fine artists including Anthony Rolfe Johnson, Ann Murray, Felicity Lott, Robert Lloyd and many many others. He contributed his vast knowledge and experience to artists, colleagues and administrators throughout the world. His loss is for me a very personal loss. Sincerely, Tom Graham

  • Nick2 says:

    I have had the pleasure of knowing Robert since the very first year he joined Ibbs and Tillett way back in the mid-1970s. Our last lunch together was about 5 years ago in London and we had always planned to get together for another catch-up in New York. Very sadly that has not yet happened. NL’s post indicates that he is merely ill, albeit seriously so, but Tom Graham who knows/knew him as a close colleague and friend implies that he has passed away. If that is the case, then I am desperately saddened by the news and send deepest condolences to his family and friends. If not, then I pray that he will recover.

    • Alan Green says:

      Robert Rattray has always been the epitome of a gentleman – in every professional endeavor and and in his personal associations as well. I have known for all my own years in opera. Bruce Zemsky ,who left us last August , knew him even longer than I did. When Robert was appointed to the post at the Metropolitan Opera, I was so happy that the Met had secured someone with such unique qualities. i was especially encouraged by the fact that in bringing Robert to theMetropolitan, the theater gained someone who for so many years worked on the other side of the business in artistic management. That fact gives him an especially deep understanding of every aspect of the work. Everything Robert does is always accomplished with the greatest of elegance and style. i join all of us internationally in praying for his recovery. Alan Green

  • erich says:

    Utterly tragic news, if his passing is confirmed. Not just a completely brilliant professional in all aspects of his work, but a true mensch
    I am greatly saddened by this and send those closest to him my deepest sympathies.

  • John McMurray says:

    Terrible news. I knew Robert for a long time and very much enjoyed a strong and often highly entertaining working relationship with him when I was at ENO. He had the gift, not always granted to artist managers, of representing his clients brilliantly while at the same time being utterly realistic about their strengths and weaknesses. I saw less of him once he’d moved to the Met but always enjoyed our meetings. He will be greatly missed. RIP

  • Richard Jarman says:

    There is some confusion above about Robert’s current state, which I can clarify. He is in hospital in NYC and his family are with him, but he is not conscious and very sadly his doctors say that he will not recover, due to the severity of the stroke. He is currently on life-support.

  • Bruno Michel says:

    I am overwhelmed by shock and tears. Robert, having been one of my first bosses, has been one of the great mentors of my life, his knowledge and wisdom always coupled with his smile and wit. This is yet another person without which life in our business will not be the same. I hear he is on life support. Let us pray he will recover, although there seems to be little chance of that.

  • Lisa Milne says:

    Robert Rattray essentially discovered me. He brought me the most amazing opportunities as a young artist and advice that was invaluable. A giant in the industry and a lovely man who really took great care with his artists. I hope he recovers soon

  • Lawrence Kershaw says:

    This is awful news, He was certainly one of the good guys in the business, both in terms of his personality, integrity and knowledge of the music. We are all the poorer if he will no longer be with us.

  • Sharon says:

    As a nurse, I wonder if the stresses of what’s happening at the MET over the last two months contributed to this, either the stress itself leading to high blood pressure which can throw blood clots or burst blood vessels or because he was so busy in trying to cast new people and do damage control that he was ignoring symptoms and not making doctors’ appointments or perhaps a combination of both. I was SO afraid that something like this would happen…
    On the plus side people can and do recover from strokes all the time even if they are on life support, especially people in their sixties.

  • boringfileclerk says:

    Very sad to hear. My condolences to his family and friends.


    We pray for a speed recovery… we pray for a miracle!!!

  • David McVicar says:

    I’ve just heard that Robert has indeed passed away today. He was a great friend and colleague to so many of us and will be sadly and greatly missed. I, personally am so sad to lose him far too soon.