The Metropolitan Opera Chorus Master to Step Down
After 17 years in the position, Donald Palumbo will depart the full-time role at the end of the 2023/24 season
Hailing from New York, Donald Palumbo attended Boston University before launching his career at the Dallas Opera in the 1980s, serving as the assistant to La Scala’s chorus master, Roberto Benaglio.
Palumbo was also chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago for 16 years, prior to joining the Metropolitan Opera for the same role in 2006.
He has led the Met Chorus’s preparation and performance in nearly 25 productions each season. In 2021, the ensemble was awarded “Best Chorus in the World” at the International Opera Awards.
Though stepping down from his position at the Met in June 2024, Palumbo will continue to work with them in future seasons on select operas alongside his teaching roles at The Juilliard School and Santa Fe Opera.
The search for a new full-time Met chorus master will occur over the next season.
Palumbo has also been music director of the Chorus pro Musica of Boston; plus served as chorus master of the Canadian Opera Company, Dallas Opera, Banff School for the Arts Summer Opera Program, Opera Company of Boston, Opera Theatre of Saint Louis, Opéra de Lyon, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, and Teatro Massimo. From 1999 to 2001, he became the first American to hold the role of chorus director of the Salzburg Festival.
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 the University of Toronto. In 2016, he joined the faculty of Juilliard’s Marcus Institute for Vocal Arts.
“I must express my admiration and thanks to everyone I have worked with at the Metropolitan Opera over the past 17 years,” Palumbo said in the press release. “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 (the Met’s) 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,” expressed 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,” added Yannick Nézet-Séguin. “Donald will forever leave his mark on the unparalleled artistry of the Metropolitan Opera. Under his leadership, the chorus has never sounded better.”