Met Chorus Master Donald Palumbo to step down after almost 20 years

New York, NY (September 18, 2023)— Met Chorus Master Donald Palumbo announced his decision to step down from the full-time role that he has held for the past 17 years at the end of the 2023–24 season in June. Widely regarded as opera’s leading chorus master, Maestro Palumbo elevated the Met Chorus to new heights during his tenure and was responsible for the chorus’s preparation and performance in nearly 25 productions each season. In 2021, the Met Chorus was awarded Best Chorus in the World at the International Opera Awards.

In future seasons, Palumbo will continue to work with the Met on select operas while pursuing his other interests as a teacher at the Juilliard School and Santa Fe Opera, and on other special projects. A search for a new full-time Met chorus master will take place over the coming season.

“I must express my admiration and thanks to everyone I have worked with at the Metropolitan Opera over the past 17 years. The administrative and musical staff, the singers, the Met Orchestra under its brilliant Music Director Yannick, and the crew of this theater are without equal. I thank Peter Gelb for his unwavering support,” said Palumbo. “The Met Chorus has provided the greatest joy for me as they tirelessly rehearsed and performed to achieve the acclaim they so justly deserve. I look forward to continuing to work with the next generation of singers.”

“When I became General Manager in 2006, one of my first artistic missions was to secure the services of Donald Palumbo as the Met’s Chorus Master since he was widely considered to be the very best,” said Peter Gelb. “His work at the Met over the past 17 years more than lived up to our expectations. Under his leadership, the Met Chorus now has no equal.”

“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,” said Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Music Director. “Donald will forever leave his mark on the unparalleled artistry of the Metropolitan Opera. Under his leadership, the chorus has never sounded better.”

Donald Palumbo was born in Rochester, New York, and received a bachelor’s degree from Boston University. He launched his career at the Dallas Opera in the 1980s, serving as the assistant to Roberto Benaglio, a renowned chorus master of La Scala. He joined the Met in 2006, following a 16-year tenure as chorus master at Lyric Opera of Chicago. Palumbo was also the music director of the Chorus pro Musica of Boston and served as chorus master of the Canadian Opera Company, Dallas Opera, Banff School for the Arts Summer Opera Program, Opera Company of Boston, and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. In Europe, he held the position of chorus master at the Opéra de Lyon, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and Teatro Massimo in Palermo. From 1999 to 2001, he was the chorus director of the Salzburg Festival, the first American to hold that position. Since 2014, Palumbo has been a vocal coach for the apprentices of the Santa Fe Opera and has worked with the young artists at the Glimmerglass Festival and students at the University of Toronto. In September 2016, he joined the faculty of the Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts at the Juilliard School. In June 2022, he prepared the Chicago Symphony Chorus for a concert performance of Verdi’s Un Ballo in Maschera with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Riccardo Muti. He returned to Chicago in June 2023, joining Maestro Muti for performances of Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis.