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Tilman Michael to become Metropolitan Opera chorus director, succeeding Donald Palumbo

The Metropolitan Opera has appointed Tilman Michael as chorus director beginning next season; this follows the retirement of Donald Palumbo who served as chorus master for 17 years.

NEW YORK (AP) — Tilman Michael will become chorus director of the Metropolitan Opera next season following the retirement of Donald Palumbo after 17 years as chorus master.

Michael, 49, was chorus master at the National Theater in Mannheim, Germany, then has held the same job at Oper Frankfurt since 2014–15. He spent 10 years assisting the chorus master at the annual Richard Wagner Festival in Bayreuth.


Michael worked with Met music director Yannick Nézet-Séguin in 2019 during performances of Shostakovich's 13th symphony with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and the choir of the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra. Nézet-Séguin and Thomas Lausmann, the Met’s director of music administration, approached Michael for the job last year.

Lausmann attended a performance of Verdi's "Don Carlo" in Frankfurt and Michael traveled to the Met to listen to the chorus in Verdi's "La Forza del Destino" and Puccini's "Turandot." His hiring was announced Tuesday.

"The Metropolitan Opera House is a special house and one of the most important opera houses in the world," Michael said. "Of course, New York is a very, very, interesting and vibrant city which offered I think many opportunities."

The orchestra and chorus are central elements of the company, which presents up to seven performances of four works in any week and 18 operas during a season. The chorus has 74 regular members plus 85 extra choristers.

Michael spent a day working with the Met chorus, as did other candidates, Met general manager Peter Gelb said.

"Yannick and Thomas were convinced that he was the right person for the Met," Gelb said. "He was one of the leading candidates from the beginning who was invited to come to the Met and to try out, to have a working session or two with the chorus."

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