The International Horn Society website has just posted an interview with Erik Ralske, former 3rd horn and then Associate Principal with the New York Philharmonic, and now principal horn with the Met Opera Orchestra. In addition to playing with the NY Phil and the Met, Mr. Ralske has also played with Houston (Associate Principal), Vancouver, Florida, and Tulsa orchestras.
One of Erik’s claims to fame – at least in the horn world – is winning two major principal horn jobs (Los Angeles and the Met) in the same week. In the interview, the two things that drew him to the Met were his New York roots and the prospect of different repertoire:
I also felt that the opportunity to play completely different and yet major horn repertoire at the MET, would make for a very complete and varied musical life and career. To have played the Mahler Symphonies with the NY Philharmonic and the prospect of playing the Wagner operas at the MET is something that intrigued me at the time of the decision.
This is interview is also a really fascinating look at the workload of a horn player in the Met Opera – while most people know that it is a lot of playing, most people (including myself) don’t really realize how much:
The average week often means being prepared for 15-18 hours of music! We perform 7 times a week: every night, Monday through Saturday, plus a matinee on Saturdays! Therefore, there are generally at least 4 different operas performed each week, while during the day, other operas are being rehearsed before opening in upcoming weeks. It’s not unusual to have 4-6 different operas in one week between rehearsals and performances. With an average time of over 3 hours per opera, that’s 15-18 hours of music to keep up with each week
Additionally, Erik discusses some of the hazards of the job – especially where live broadcasts are concerned:
Never over-hydrate before a long opera! I made that mistake on my first HD Broadcast, which was Rheingold…Rheingold is the shortest Ring opera, but there’s no intermission and it’s about 2 hours and 40 minutes long.
If you’re interested in the workload of an orchestral musician in an opera, this interview is pretty great. Check it out on the IHS website.