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Who’s Filling In For James Levine?

While the Met orchestra’s conductor is on the disabled list, five substitute conductors—usually booked years in advance—were coaxed into the pit.

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Photographs courtesy of the Metropolitan Opera.  

Paul Nadler, Beethoven’s Fidelio
Through April 13

The Résumé
Music director of the Southwest Florida Symphony Orchestra, and principal guest conductor at Filharmonica de Stat Iasi, Romania.

Talking Points
Nadler was already working with the orchestra as assistant conductor in Fidelio and was slated to lead the final performance. (Never mind that the Times wrote, “Met audiences should be grateful for him. But he’s not James Levine.”) Besides, he’s already conducted about 40 Met and Met in the Parks concerts.

How The Met Snagged Him on Short Notice
Simple, says the Met’s artistic administrator Jonathan Friend—he stuck with the understudy “rather than disrupt the music-making with somebody who might be different but not necessarily better.”


Maurizio Benini, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale
Through April 21

The Résumé
Principal guest conductor at Teatro Municipal in Santiago, Chile; a favorite guest at Covent Garden.

Talking Points
The acclaimed bel canto conductor was in New York doing Verdi’s Luisa Miller (“crisp” and “deft,” said the Financial Times) when the call came. He’ll be back next season to conduct the much-anticipated new production of Il Barbiere di Siviglia.

How The Met Snagged Him on Short Notice
Friend knows the director of the Santiago theater well, “and I said, ‘Please, is there any chance that you would release him?’ ”


Philippe Auguin, Wagner’s Lohengrin
April 17 through May 6

The Résumé
Guest-conducts at La Scala, Covent Garden, and Bavarian State Opera. Music director of the Nuremberg Opera. Cut his teeth under Sir Georg Solti and Herbert von Karajan.

Talking Points
Auguin, a Wagner expert, has replaced Levine before, leading Ferruccio Busoni’s Doktor Faust in 2001. (From the Times review: “Auguin led a knowledgeable performance, though one missed the dramatic authority that James Levine would have brought to the score.”) Also recently subbed for an ailing Seiji Ozawa in Tokyo, conducting Othello.

How The Met Snagged Him on Short Notice
“He was supposed to be doing Walküre in Italy” until the orchestra threatened a strike, says Friend. “He was faced with either doing Walküre with two pianos or Lohengrin at the Met with an orchestra.”


Derrick Inouye, Donizetti’s Don Pasquale
April 25 and April 28

The Résumé
Music director of the Regina Symphony Orchestra in Saskatchewan; principal guest conductor at Germany’s Norddeutsche Philharmonie Rostock.

Talking Points
Inouye, the scheduled assistant for Don Pasquale, is a regular at the Met, and he’s stepped in for Levine before, on Christmas Eve 2003—in mid-performance, when a bad cold caught up with the maestro during Benvenuto Cellini. Last summer, he did the Met in the Parks’ Tosca; the Times wrote that “Inouye kept things more or less on track, although his tempos grew a bit labored in Act III.”

How The Met Snagged Him on Short Notice
Benini can’t finish the run—he’s going to Venice—and “the orchestra and singers like [Inouye].”


Peter Schneider, Wagner’s Parsifal
May 12 through May 18

The Résumé
Chief conductor of the Bavarian State Opera in Munich; often conducts at the Bayreuth Music Festival. Started out singing in the Vienna Boys Choir.

Talking Points
Best known in Europe, where he spends most of his time, the Austrian is highly respected for his Wagner. Like Auguin, he recently pinch-hit for Ozawa, conducting Mozart’s Idomeneo in Vienna. Of his Lohengrin at Bayreuth in August, the British industry paper The Stage observed that Schneider “knows how to get the orchestra and above all the famous chorus to give of their best.”

How The Met Snagged Him on Short Notice
“He had booked the time off for holidays with his wife, so we had to persuade her to do some nice shopping here in New York.”


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