Meet the Vienna musicians who replaced the Met orchestra

Meet the Vienna musicians who replaced the Met orchestra


norman lebrecht

January 05, 2021

Slipped Disc has uncovered the identities of the European musicians who were hired by Peter Gelb for the Met’s New Year’s Gala, in place of the Metropolitan Opera’s own besieged and unwaged orchestra.

The string players were Yuuki Wong, Lukas Medlam, Tomasz Wabnic, Attila Pasztor and Benedict Ziervogel, known collectively as the Vienna Morphing Institute.

The orchestration and arrangements were by Tomasz Wabnic and Lukas Meldam.

The pianist was Cecile Restier, solo répétiteur at the Vienna State Opera.




  • Madeleine Richardson says:

    I watched the gala and the singing was great and the venue was stunning.
    I did miss a full orchestra to do justice to the music as it had more of an air of recital but this in no way reflects on the quality of the signers or musicians. It’s just a sign of the times.

  • MusicLover says:

    While it’s understandable that one would decry the actions of the MET to hire outside musicians for their gala while not paying their own, one should resist the temptation to name and shame freelance musicians during this time. Most of them haven’t had any income since March and understandably could not turn down a gig when one came up.

    • Maureen says:

      Libs will trade off their so-called values for a few shekels any day.

      Yes, the prestige of the Met is now a memory considering the garish vocals passed off by Gelb as “world class”. No bel canto, just breathy belting over only a handful of players. What dreck!

      • DD says:

        “Maureen” — your use of “Libs” and “shekels” exposed you as the troll that you are. Same words and tone as all of your posts.

        • BruceB says:

          The trolls here are sleek and glossy. They keep showing up (and coming back) because they know they will be well-fed.

          • David says:

            I want to be sleek and glossy!

          • Sue Sonata Form says:

            Me too; but what are we going to do to finally impress our ‘masters’ who’ll decide which comments and suitable and desirable and which are not? Seems to me I’ve heard about this sort of thing before. Where could that be? (Thinks, with finger pointed to temple.)

      • Fred says:

        So you know the political positions of these musicians?
        Do tell how you know that? Do you know them personally?

      • Janette Goodman says:

        Correct. They are woefully lacking in proper bel canto technique. Not met level standards.

        Trolls like “MusicLover” and “DD” are clearly uneducated in the craft as they are part of Norman’s vast bot-club with their offensive white-speak..

        • DD says:

          I am “part of Norman’s vast bot-club with their offensive white-speak..”? I have to read that again—vast bot-club…offensive white-speak. Wow. Yeah, you’ve got a lot of scary ideas swirling around in your head. If you really believe we are part of some vast, organized group, under Norman’s command, I seriously suggest you seek professional help.

          The truth is that there are a lot of people who write comments here who don’t share your views. Sometimes, we try to explain things to you from our perspective, but it’s never done with malice. We’re not evil, and no one controls us.

          BTW, I am not “uneducated in the craft” but that doesn’t help make your point about the “bot-club” anyway. So weird.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          Oh, the dreaded ‘white-speak’. I’m sure that’s exactly what those brave airmen were talking as they were shot down over Europe during the Battle of Britain. Served them right!!!

          You’ve got to be using low resolution thinking to come up with terms like ‘white-think’.

          • William Safford says:

            Sue, I already corrected you concerning racial discrimination in the armed forces in WWII.

            I know nothing about the British flyers in the Battle of Britain in this context.

            Black Americans were prohibited from being combat pilots, until the experimental Tuskegee Airmen project was started, as a segregated unit.

            They initially faced discrimination, both in and out of the Army.

            Once they were permitted to serve in combat, they served with distinction, to the chagrin of the racists who did not believe that a Black man could or should do so.

            I do not believe that any of the Tuskegee Airmen served in the skies over the English Channel.

          • Eureka!! says:

            So you’re black Safford. Alright then.

            Is that the root of your overwhelming intellectual insecurity and need to control others thoughts along with “S”, “DD” and the other bots?

            Too bad Norman capitulates and coddles you so.

            Manhood alone should have settled in with you by now to not act so hormonal unless your balls have yet to drop.

            No wonder you hate women and men you can’t compete with.

          • William Safford says:

            Eureka, stop lying about bots. They are out there. I post only using my name.

            How about you? How many bots do you hide behind?

      • HugoPreuss says:

        Interesting. How do you know about the political views of these musicians? How do you know that they are “Libs” and not “Cons”?? In fact, do you really know what country they are from and what the party system is like in their countries? Surely you don’t simply assume that half a dozen European musicians fit easily into the simplistic American dichotomy of Lib-Con.

    • Liam Allan-Dalgleish says:

      You gotta be rich and a “music appreciator” to talk like that.

    • Kathleen King says:

      “Understandable” perhaps, but not too smart. They have not only betrayed their own, but as “management” becomes ever more powerful and dismissive, they cement their serf status despite thier talent and training.

    • SVM says:

      Re “MusicLover”: it is only a “name and shame” from the perspective of American employment practices, where the unions have some power. In Europe, however, it is unlikely that the players would suffer any adverse consequences, since employment laws in most European countries prohibit “closed shop” employment practices (in other words, it is illegal to require a worker to be unionised and illegal to discriminate against a worker for acting contrary to the interests of a union). If anything, the fact that they have performed under the Met banner would probably enhance their prestige. As I have argued elsewhere on Slipped Disc, the Met should have credited the individual performers (since they are a small ensemble and they are ‘guest’ performers) in its advertisements for the event, as it did the singers.

  • A.L. says:

    Between Gelb and the Board’s brazen assaults against their own musical staff to Nézet-Séguin’s silence and disappearance from the scene, there may not be a ‘21-‘22 season either.

  • Christine Keenan says:

    I really enjoyed the performance. The singers were outstanding and the arrangements were superb.

  • Gordon Bernstein says:

    Treasonous bastards. How dare they??? Off with their heads!!!

  • Patrick says:

    Hope they made it home safely. I wouldn’t cross the NY musician’s union.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Yeah, they’re truly a force (?)…

    • Old Man in the Midwest says:

      Indeed. Their agent announced this morning that they are now a trio. Guido and Paulo, sent by the NYC folks, took out the second violinist. It was the best place to start since second violinists tend to be on the lazy side.

  • Sir David Geffen-Hall says:

    I pity these four musicians. Once things return to normal, they will never be able to make a dinner reservation in NYC.

  • Peter says:

    For a performance in Europe, it does rather make sense to use the brilliant locally available musicians, rather than bring in the new year with a high carbon footprint concert.
    In fact, shouldn’t this always be a sensible practice ?

    • Fred says:

      One of the concertmasters of the Met is in playing in Germany right now because he needs employment. You’d think they’d have at least called him up.

  • Karl says:

    This statement can be attributed to AFM Local 802 President Adam Krauthamer:
    “It is artistic malpractice and unacceptable that non-Met musicians are being hired to perform under the banner of the Metropolitan Opera at tonight’s New Year’s Eve Gala. This is the fourth fundraising event where Met management is unethically outsourcing its musicians ”

    The deplorable democrats let this happen. It will only get worse with Peking Joe Biden coming into office. There will probably be mandates for more Chinese musicians. Because we need more diversity.

  • Mr. Knowitall says:

    Wasn’t this event virtual? I thought it was streamed from Germany. If so, what’s the big deal about European musicians performing? Met musicians would not have been allowed to enter the EU for the gig. The threats in other comments about the perils of crossing the New York musicians union are also nonsensical.

    Or is it that the Met didn’t stream from New York the cause of the outrage?

    Mr. Knowitall doesn’t know this one at all.

    • Elizabeth says:

      American singers flew in from New York… Why not just have the Met gala in New York…

      • Mr. Knowitall says:

        I don’t know why they didn’t stream from New York. Were there gathering restrictions or other limitations? Anyone?

        • Emil says:

          Well, it’s obvious. Because in NY, they’d have had to use MET musicians. They had two singers fly from the US – one from New Jersey, 20 minutes from the Lincoln Centre.

      • Stephen Owades says:

        It would have been illegal under current New York State Covid restrictions to perform this gala in New York.

  • Samantha Bendzulla says:

    When did SD morph into a loathsome right-wing hate site?

    • William Safford says:

      The comments section has been sinking deeper and deeper into the right-wing swamp for some years now. The ascension of the Orange Enemy of the People to the U.S. Presidency four years ago seems to have accelerated this process. I leave it to others to opine about the U.K. equivalent.

      • W. Ferguson says:

        Norman allows you (as his personal bot) to rant so he clearly gets off on the discourse in order to fill up space. The cutesy privacy terms everyone clicks through include you and his other bots. Your multiple, Prozac-laced post even about your own posts are proof it’s a tired joke already. You have nothing to offer but humorous fluff hence the multiple downvotes. Your comic relief is cute sometimes but quite boorish now.

      • Karl says:

        You put the cart before the horse. The outsourcing of jobs to foreigners has accelerated the process and led to the rise of Orange Man.

  • Zachary Binx says:

    Boo met! Just another reason not to buy your overpriced streaming channel.

  • Bored Muso says:

    Gelb should resign in shame, or be sacked, or both…..

  • Elizabeth says:

    The fault is with the Met for hiring non-Met Musicians.

  • Eric says:

    So do any of them have union jobs in the EU ? Will their union do the right thing and sanction them ?

    • SVM says:

      The concept of “union jobs” does not exist any longer in Europe: in general, it is illegal to require a worker to be unionised as a condition of employment.

  • Max Z says:

    I’m a musician, not from the Met. I can tell you there’s no excuse. They should (and could) have flown a few of their own. Instead, they are robbing millions from their own musicians. It’s pretty disgusting.

  • John says:

    As much as their actions are deplorable (and they had been warned not to partake- this wasn’t the first time they did this), it truly comes down to Gelb and the Board- who hires these musicians and have them the devil’s deal. Time for Gelb to go, immediately.

  • Kathleen King says:

    They are no better than the Chief SCAB Gelb! Some excuse for them is they too are probably unpaid and need the money. Since Yannick and his Spouse have finally stepped up and are, they say, matching funds contributed to the musicians, everyone should do as I have and send a contribution to THE MET is its people and Peter Gelb can eat his “GALA” ; the MET musicians need and deserve their pay. PETER GELB IS A SCAB.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    It seems that nobody in the comment section posed a very important question: How much did the Met do and how will that money be spent?

  • Scott says:

    Gelb destroyed the Metropolitan Opera long before Covid.