Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Fires Back at Nathalie Stutzmann Comment in New York Times

By Francisco Salazar

The Metropolitan Opera is firing back at Nathalie Stutzmann regarding a comment in the New York Times about the orchestra being stuck in a “cave for four hours.”

In an interview with the Times Stutzmann said “There’s nothing more boring than being an orchestra musician and being in the back of a cave with no idea of what’s happening on the stage. Can you imagine spending three or four hours, five for Wagner, at the bottom of a pit and have no idea what’s happening above you?”

The comment was in response to the orchestra being raised up to the stage for the new production of “Die Zauberflöte.” Stage Designer Michael Levine said, “We decided, ‘Let’s raise the orchestra, let’s make people aware of the players’ because we’re so used to the players being hidden, and they weren’t in the 18th century.”

However, the orchestra musicians did not take the comment lightly and took to social media stating, “In the recent otherwise excellent article in the New York Times about the Met’s innovative new production of Die Zauberflöte, we were disheartened to read our guest conductor’s supposition that the Met Orchestra might be bored playing in the pit.”

It added, “Our time spent in the orchestra pit is anything but a mundane experience, and we do not consider it a cave. Though we may not see the grand visual spectacle unfolding above us, we know exactly what is happening onstage. We want to emphasize the passion we feel for our craft and the enormous amount of preparation we undertake in order to have a deep knowledge of that which we cannot see. We study the score and the synopsis and are keenly aware of our role at any given moment—sometimes supporting, sometimes soloistic. We intuitively understand the difficult acoustics of our enormous opera house, and we have cultivated a state of artistic flexibility that allows us to smoothly adjust to the sometimes nail-biting moments of live theater. We are highly attuned to the ever-changing needs and choices of singers, and we enjoy collaborating with them to meld the artistry on stage with that in the pit. In this way, we offer our audience a fresh artistic perspective night after night. In short, we are not bored but, rather, exhilarated. And we take immense pride in our ability to both support the world’s greatest opera stars and be one of the world’s greatest orchestras.”

Stutzmann made her Met debut conducting “Don Giovanni” this past month and is currently conducting the new production of “Die Zauberflöte” which opened on May 19. Both operas will be part of the Live in HD series.