Matt Ward to replace Soprano Brenda Rae

An abrupt change in the Met’s production of Richard Strauss’s The Ring of the Nibelungs has made it impossible for its music director, Giovanni Antonini, to conduct the Met’s production of Mozart’s The Magic Flute beginning on Tuesday night. His replacement will be the orchestra’s assistant conductor, Dennis Russell Davies. The music director, Riccardo Muti, has been off the stage for the past few months, recovering from surgery to insert a pacemaker.

In other Met news, Principal Met bass Matt Ward will replace two-time grand dame Soprano Brenda Rae. Both performances will begin on September 16 with a rhapsodic Sinfonia Concertante for violin and cello in E-flat major by Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach.

As opera director when I was out of work in late August, I must announce that my tenure as a member of the Met family has come to an end. Very, very soon, I’ll be returning to beloved pastures of L.A. So farewell for now, hello again!

There is so much I’ll miss. I’ll miss other people, of course. I’ll miss the elements of life — the sounds in the music pit, of the chattering of hands, of the voices in familiar patterns. I’ll miss Ira Glass’s radio program, Here’s The Thing, which I used to listen to every morning, before making my vow to vegetate in the green room during the big news programs. I’ll miss entering the hotel the day before each performance, greeting friends and colleagues at the lobby entrance, and then making a beeline for my daily dose of double stokneck, Hifik’s Rhum from Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings.

But mostly, I’ll miss the shows. In this colony of myriad great performances, one feels transported immediately into the foyer of the Metropolitan Opera, away from the confines of ordinary life. And I’ll miss getting up at the crack of dawn to go see it, like some nightmare harrowed by betrayal. It’s one of those tights-off bliss feelings.

Meeting the managers, performing at the company’s competitions, chatting with Jonathan Wilcox, among others, the wonder of it all never leaves you. But the very emotions that make you go there are the same feelings that become increasingly difficult to manage over time, both in and out of work. Which is why I’m grateful to be coming back.

Leave a Comment