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Subject: Re: Singing in choruses
From: Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Alain Letort <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Sun, 4 Feb 2018 23:01:33 -0500
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Dear Listers,

As someone who has had friends in the Met chorus, and still do, while it is true that the 
salary is good, the benefits and good, and the work is steady, I would point out that :

(1) The cost of living in the New York area is extremely high, so that does offset the high 
salaries to a considerable degree.  Forget dreams about spacious apartments on 
Manhattan’s Upper West Side, the choristers I know (or knew) all live(d) in New Jersey.

(2) Met choristers work hard for their money.  Usually they show up to begin rehearsing at 
10:00 or 10:30 a.m., and are at work all day until 10:30 or 11 p.m. on performance days.  
On non-performance days, they rarely get home before 7:00 or 7:30 p.m. because of their 
long commutes.  One of my friends in the Met chorus is a divorced lady who has raised a 
son while jiggling a Met career, and when she gets home she takes care of her son, so she’s 
rarely relaxing but either at work or taking care of her home and her son.

As indeed do the vast majority of hard-working Americans.  I’m not trying to make you feel 
sorry for them, because they do have incredible jobs with amazing non-monetary rewards, 
but Met choristers do work very hard for what they have, and are incredibly talented to 
boot.

Outside of the Met, though, singing chorus cannot be a full-time job in this country.  Here in 
Washington, chorus singers get to perform in, say, three operas a year max, and so they all 
have “day” or “real” jobs (teaching jobs or office jobs).  Singing chorus at WNO is really just 
a “bonus,” even though we have very talented choristers here in D.C.

I would guess that, outside of the Met, only the San Francisco and Chicago opera companies 
employ a full-time chorus.  (And I’m not even sure about Chicago.)

Cheers and all the best,

Alain

Alain Letort
Washington, D.C.
Des Ungeheuers Höhle

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