Conducting at the Met without rehearsal

Conducting at the Met without rehearsal


norman lebrecht

May 23, 2023

Message from James Gaffigan:

Message from John Fiore:
Just conducted Salome in Stockholm, the first time I have done it in 10 years, and with no orchestra rehearsal (Alan Gilbert asked me to do these shows, and I said yes, of course). But, the magnificent Kungliga Hovkapellet came right along just as if we had been doing it already many times. Great orchestra! And what a great Salome Elisabet Strid is, powerful and sensuous, Lukasz Golinski a warm and wonderful Jokanaan, Jesper Taube an amazing Herod, and amazingly accurate in one of opera’s most musically challenging roles, and dear Katarina Karnéus, just a fabulous Herodias. To do this piece again means so much to me; it’s been a part of my life since 1969. I’m a happy man tonight.

It looks like this lack of preparation is becoming standard practice.


  • william de blasio says:

    no news here. the German, Austrian, Hungarian (lets just say non Southern European) houses have never rehearsed “repertoire “, only new productions.

  • Opera conductor says:

    This is absolutely normal in German houses. One conductor does the rehearsals and first few performances and another will take over a few with no orchestra rehearsal. This is how young conductors cut their teeth and prove themselves to the orchestra and house management.

  • Hermann Lederer says:

    So what? Who cares? Hundreds have done this at the Met before and countless in the opera houses around the world without making themself important.

    • guest says:

      But he took the opportunity to suck up to the staff (and thus the management) of the MET. Maybe they will invite me again, unlike you-know-who, that rude Frenchwoman.

      • Guesty McGuesterson says:

        Or mayyybeee he is trying to engage people who may not normally attend the opera…to entice them to come?Maaaaybeee their PR department told him to do so.
        Or did you only want your elitist pearl-clutching pals to attend?
        Duh. I guess you don’t care if these dying dinosaurs of art just die where they stand. You’d rather the common people just stay home and watch Netflix. Sheesh, have some sense.

        • guest says:

          My comment did not refer to the fact that Maestro uses Twitter as a means of communication (or to him doing PR) only to the content of his post. Considering the row that was unleashed around Nathalie Stutzmann his entry sounded like – “I” appreciate MET employees (implicitly as opposed to NS). Luisi did the same: I’m the good one, employ ME.
          Very childish, not to use a worse term

          • Fabio Luisi says:

            Dear Guest, words of appreciation towards colleague musicians are not necessarily given to obtain something – or sign of a “childish” – not to use a worse term – behavior. The fact is, these people are really amazing, and I know them much better than many others, and surely much better than you. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar (Siegmund Freud).
            And all the best to colleagues Gaffigan and Fiore!

      • Eve Pollard says:

        He’s a fantastic conductor and should be a regular force at the Met.

    • Achim Mentzel says:

      Yes, you are absolutely right. But we live in different times and today a conductor is only as important as his social media feed is. So why should James miss this opportunity to feed his followers with content. And it is still better than posting views from luxury hotel rooms, breakfasts, dinners or final applauses of sometimes even catastrophic performances, when the public so or so cheers, because they have no clue.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      It does not happen that frequently at the Met.

  • Mark My Words says:

    Translation: “don’t blame me if it goes sideways. I didn’t get to rehearse them.”

    Completely transparent humblebragging.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I’m reminded of the story told about Georg Solti…

    By the end of rehearsals for a concert he still hasn’t touched the Brahms symphony that is the main work on the program.

    He says, “Well, you all know how this goes. Watch my tempos and we’ll be fine.”

    A trumpet player who is new to the orchestra raises his hand, “But maestro, I’ve never played Brahms Second Symphony before!”

    “You’ll love it!” Solti replies.


    In this interview, Met Orchestra trumpeter David Krauss tells of playing a major work in concert under Levine, without rehearsal…

  • Arameo says:

    It does not mean there is lack of preparation, in both cases the pieces has been rehearsed and conducted by YNS and AG, Gaffigan and Fiori are only joining the run. The comment should be rather that music directors are too busy around to do a complete run of performances.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      95% or more has already happened in rehearsal. Let’s remember, these subs are not exactly unprepared.

  • Ari Bocian says:

    The Met has performed Zeffirelli’s production of La Boheme about 500 times in the last 42 years (I think it’s the longest running production of their entire 140-year history). I’m sure the orchestra doesn’t need any rehearsals at this point. Heck, they might even be able to perform it from memory by now!

  • Alan Barnes says:

    Yes. Great orchestra!! I think they should be able to handle this one. And it sounds like a great opportunity for you. Best wishes!!

  • Jay Sacca says:

    Many years ago I was – unfortunately far too briefly – a private conducting student of Henry Holt. A brilliant man. He told me a story about being contracted to conduct Boheme (coincidence) at New York City Opera. In a production meeting he was told that he would have only a piano rehearsal on stage with the singers, and no orchestra rehearsal of any kind. He said, that’s very interesting, and who were you thinking would conduct? Lol. They managed to negotiate for one orchestra dress rehearsal.