Obituary: Former Metropolitan Opera Bass Clarinetist James Ognibene Dies

By Francisco Salazar

Former Metropolitan Opera Orchestra Clarinet player James Ognibene has passed away.

Ognibene obtained his degrees from Indiana University and Youngstown State University’s Dana School of Music and studied with Robert Marcellus, Earl Bates, and Anthony Gigliotti as well as bass clarinetists Al Zetzer and Larry Bocanner.

He went on to participate in the Spoleto, Grand Teton, and Bard Music Festivals and served as a clarinet coach for the Verbier Festival Orchestra in Verbier Switzerland.

He became a member of the Charlotte, NC Symphony and served four years as a member of the United States Marine Band and White House Orchestra in Washington, DC. He also performed at the Festival Napa Valley.

In 1986, he joined Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as the solo bass clarinetist and performed with the company until May 11, 2019. He also performed regularly on the Met’s Carnegie Hall chamber series. In total, he held his Met position for 33 years.

Ognibene was featured on numerous recordings including Clarinet Hive for Naxos featuring music by Piazzola and Harbison.