Presenting the Metropolitan Orchestra’s enormous repertoire poses a tremendous challenge. Helping to meet that challenge is one of the most unique groups of musicians working under an 802 collective bargaining agreement – the Metropolitan Opera Music Staff.
The staff numbers almost 50: thirteen working full time and the rest part time, under contract for specific productions. Most are hired as assistant conductors, whose individual contracts specify a wide range of responsibilities. They may serve as cover conductors, play rehearsals or coach singers. Others do backstage conducting, or conduct rehearsals or performances as needed. Prompters may prepare and coach singers, as well as prompting during rehearsals and performances. A full-time ballet pianist plays for ballet rehearsals and classes, and sings cues when the singers are present to rehearse dance sequences.
Several things set this group apart. While most major opera orchestras work under collective bargaining agreements, very few music staffs are organized. In New York, Local 802 represents both the Metropolitan Opera and New York City Opera music staffs. The only other organized music staff is that of the Lyric Opera in Chicago. The length of the Metropolitan Opera season and intensity of the work are also unique.
The music staff committee is made up of Chair Jane Klaviter, First Vice-chair Robert Morrison, Second Vice Chair Robert Myers, Secretary Stephen Eldridge, Vice-Secretary Kathleen Kelly, Treasurer Gareth Morrell, Vice-Treasurer Steven Crawford and Robert De Ceunnyck.