The Met loses its chorus chief

The Met loses its chorus chief


norman lebrecht

September 19, 2023

It has been announced that Donald Palumbo, one of Peter Gelb’s first hires, will step down as director of the Metropolitan Opera chorus at the end of this season. He will have covered 17 stressful years and is now 75 years old.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin said: ‘Donald Palumbo is a true legend in the opera world and in the chorus world. Having started as an opera chorus conductor myself, I have always looked to Donald as an inspiration. Our collaborations in my years as guest conductor and since becoming Music Director have been some of the greatest joys of my life. Donald will forever leave his mark on the unparalleled artistry of the Metropolitan Opera. Under his leadership, the chorus has never sounded better.’


  • Maria says:

    Wish him well. Done a fine job and way beyond any acceptable European retirement age here. A well-earned rest now is deserved but still he’ll be a hard act to replace, and in dodgy financial times, particularly for opera. with the pandemic having destroyed so much, a cost of living crisis, all changing people’s priorities in life and how they spend. Wish Donald well and with sincere thanks.

  • Henry williams says:

    Are the young generation ever going to get employment. When 75 year olds are still working

  • Chicagorat says:

    He will go to Chicago, it’s a done deal.

    Maestro Nézet-Séguin is better off for it. He does not want to know what Muti, Palumbo and Harvey Sachs say about him when they hang out in Chicago. (By the way, he should also cancel the CSO invitation to Philadelphia next year.)

  • Eleganza says:

    Big news. What a remarkable chorus master, he will be hard to replace. Who?

  • John Kelly says:

    Wow. Enormous shoes to fill. The Met chorus is simply SUPERB! YNS wrote “Under his leadership, the chorus has never sounded better.’” True.

  • Thornhill says:

    Huge loss.

    The choir was a mess when Palumbo was hired and he quickly got them into shape and raised their standards. Levine just didn’t seem to have a clue about the choir or care how subpar they were.

    He’s going to be a tough act to follow.

    • Save the MET says:

      That’s simply not the case, Palumbo took over an excellent chorus built by David Stivender. Palumbo was an excellent chorusmaster, but he took over a seasoned chorus who made a superb sound.

  • Zarathusa says:

    Don was definitely MISTER MET (and no relation to the baseball team’s mascot!) for the past umteen years! He will be sorely and surely missed!

  • Anonymous says:

    He was a great chorus director for many years at the Lyric Opera. Big promotion (guessing) to go to the Met in money too, as the Met puts on more operas than Lyric. At 75, he has earned a well deserved rest, but he could also teach, or guest conduct too. He is one of the last who knew Roberto Benaglio, the chorus guy every great conductor wanted on their recordings. I think Benaglio tried to coach Pavarott many years ago, but not sure it was any good.

  • Eleganza says:

    So… who are the suggestions? Michael Black from Chicago Lyric has built a strong reputation. Or someone from across the pond? There’d be any number of European chorus masters keen for the gig – but any number of not great chorus masters amongst them…

  • Penpen says:

    Happiest of retirement Donald and thanks for being so great.