Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Out of sight

Last month I noted co-concertmaster David Chan's unusual star turn -- complete with curtain call -- in the Met's new Thaïs. It was a rare visual acknowledgment of the company's biggest asset: a pit band at once virtuosic, unitary, and capable of eloquent -- and, when required, unabashedly romantic -- solo playing. The pleasure of these elements -- particularly the orchestra's physical sound in person -- has carried (for example) more than a few otherwise-disappointing Wagner performances, assisted successes in all repertoires, and occasionally (as in the last premiere of Die Frau ohne Schatten under Thielemann, in which Chan and principal cellist Rafael Figueroa were unforgettable) taken prime honors. The (far from disappointing) Tristan later that December week showed why: though Barenboim's approach and person on the podium were unfamiliar, the orchestra that day gave not only a coherent overall sound but memorable solo turns by numerous wind players (including English hornist Pedro Diaz, given a program credit for the piece) and assistant principal violist Milan Milisavljevic.

Over the years I've enjoyed seeing, when not sitting at Orchestra (floor) level, which players of the double-sized and constantly substituting Met Orchestra are participating in the particular performance. So I couldn't help but notice the recent absence of Michael Parloff, long-time principal flute, from the pit. The December and January programs in fact omit Parloff from the orchestra altogether, listing the two remaining flautists as acting principals and designating the second of them as occupant of "The Beth W. and Gary A. Glynn Chair, in honor of Michael Parloff" with no further explanation. Nor have I found clarifying news announcements.

Where'd he go?

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In another unexplained absence, impressive-voiced Verdi baritone Željko Lucic appears now to be out of the whole run of Rigoletto. Here's hoping the legendary "TBA" doesn't turn into Juan Pons (whom, I should note, I've liked in other things)...


  1. Mike Parloff took a medical leave of absence halfway through last season and has now officially retired; he and Trudy Kane (who very coincidentally also retired last season) were succeeded by Stefan Hoskuldsson (formerly second flute) and someone from the Barcelona Symphony who starts next September. I understand why Mrs. Glynn might care about this, and certainly Michael's family -- but is it really important enough to the general public for there to be a news release about it? If Nick Eanet had left to join "a string quartet" (as one of the principal celli did a while back), it also never would have made the Times -- it just happened to be the Juilliard String Quartet, so it did.

  2. Eanet just got here (relatively speaking), so probably not, but I seem to recall more than one article upon Gniewek's retirement.

    If the public's not supposed to care, why have the chair title be listed in the first place? A lot of us have appreciated his playing a lot over the years, and a sudden midseason de-rostering is worrying. (I actually recall some mention of the Kane retirement at last season's end, though perhaps I imagined it.) I wouldn't expect a full piece in the Times, but there other outlets including an arts-blotter type blog on that paper's site...

    In any case, thanks for the clarification. I wish him and his family the best.

  3. Do you think the MET would ask Mr. H to sing some of the Rigoletto performances? He is in town for di Luna, maybe, a try out? I am constantly praying for a production of Rigoletto with both Mr. H and Sr. Vargas. The Met surely has two lovely Gilda this season.


Absolutely no axe-grinding, please.