The Metropolitan Opera has named Donald Palumbo its new chorus master, beginning with the 2007-08 season. He succeeds Raymond Hughes, who is stepping down after sixteen seasons in the job.
Palumbo is currently chorus master at the Lyric Opera of Chicago and a choral consultant for Canadian Opera Company in Toronto. He was the first American to serve as chorus director of the Salzburg Festival, where he worked from 1999-2001, collaborating with Valery Gergiev, Lorin Maazel, Sylvain Cambreling, Christoph von Dohnányi and Kent Nagano.
Palumbo, a native of Rochester, received his training as an assistant to Robert Benaglio, La Scala's chorus master. He has worked extensively in France at the Opéra de Lyon, Paris's Théâtre du Châtelet (including its production of Berlioz's Les Troyens conducted by John Eliot Gardiner) and the Aix-en-Provence Festival. He has conducted the Chorus of Radio France in concerts featuring works by Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Pizzetti and Verdi.
A former chorus master of both Opera Theatre of Saint Louis and the Dallas Opera, Palumbo served as music director of the Boston Chorus Pro Musica from 1980 to 1990.
Following the appointment of Craig Rutenberg as director of music administration in August, Palumbo is new general manager Peter Gelb's second appointment to the Met's musical staff. Gelb said, "Donald Palumbo is widely regarded as the greatest chorus conductor in the world today. Joining forces with Maestro Levine, he will build on the considerable achievements of Raymond Hughes, who for sixteen seasons maintained the highest artistic standards of the Met chorus."