Auditioning Librarians, Live From the Met


I escaped Eurovision on Saturday night by going to the opera. Or rather, the pictures – actually it was Live from the Met in HD, Rossini’s La Cenerentola, at my favourite cinema, Barbican Screen 1.

As the credits rolled at the end, I was interested to see the name of the Chief Librarian, Robert Sutherland go up the screen. There’s a fascinating article on the music librarians at the New York Metropolitan Opera on the Met Orchestra Musicians website, that describes their work, and their selection procedure for new recruits.

"A recent job opening attracted over 50 applicants. Approximately 20 of these applicants were advanced and invited to the Met to audition. Before arriving at the Met, the finalists were asked to submit a written statement and examples of hand-copying and computer-copying of music. Once they arrived, they were given a written test designed to provide information about their musical knowledge and problem-solving abilities. The test included hand-copying, questions testing basic musical knowledge, and questions regarding differences in versions and editions of specific operas. Candidates were then interviewed, and those chosen were given a trial week."

At Sue Hill Recruitment we frequently put our candidates forward for roles with equally rigorous screening procedures, albeit more often in professional services firms rather than in the arts. It’s unsurprising that a company that prides itself on presenting "the world's greatest singers on the world's greatest stage" should be as careful in the selection of those working behind the scenes as those in the limelight.

The behind-the-scenes work of the librarians is what makes it possible for the Met’s performances to run smoothly. So, a great performance from everyone on Saturday night, witnessed globally by an audience of millions, and made possible by librarians.


– Donald Lickley

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