Susan Miller Hult - Prompter, Lyric Opera of Chicago
As the assistant conductor and prompter of Lyric Opera of Chicago, Susan
Miller Hult has the best seat in the house. She's the prompter.
Susan Miller Hult will share her experiences with the greatest Wagnerians of
our time: Morris, Terfel, Eaglen, Domingo, Voigt, Heppner, Behrens. The good,
the bad, and the ugly. She has promised us insights, news, and tales of
Susan Miller Hult has worked with James Levine at Bayreuth, with
Seiji Ozawa in Tokyo, and at the San Francisco Opera. "Please join us in
welcoming my friend Susan Hult. I can assure you an interesting event."
Pat Mattingly, President, WSD
The Wagner Society of Dallas invited members to welcome Spring
Miller Hult at a meeting which started at 4:30 P.M. on Saturday April 5,
The meeting was held at the Ciudad Restaurant in Turtle Creek
a lot of our members attended this wonderful talk.
As promised on our invitations, we were first of all served with drinks.
Afterwards, waiters and waitresses served us delicious hors d'oevres.
we had imbibed, we were asked to go into an adjoining room where a microphone
was set up. Pat Mattingly, the President of the Wagner Society of Dallas, introduced her friend, Susan Miller
Hult, who, she announced, had first graduated from SMU, and then gone on to
the Eastman School of Music and Juilliard. From 1994 to 1998, Ms. Hult worked
with James Levine, Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York. She
also remarked that Susan is currently the Assistant Conductor and
Prompter of Lyric Opera of Chicago, and that we would be in for a very
interesting hour of entertainment.
Susan charmed us all by sharing with us many of her experiences as a prompter. She had some wonderful anecdotes.
Her job as a prompter, she said, is
to have the score ready and be there for whatever the singers need. The
prompter, she said, acts as a
liaison between the Maestro and the singers. Her job is to know
all the parts and be able to sing the queues. Sometimes the singer may not
realize that they are a beat ahead, so she has to use hand signals to slow them
down. She also works with the
understudies, and makes sure they know the correct rhythms.
Susan said that she is insulated from the orchestra while sitting in her box with
Susan described her feelings when she worked at Bayreuth, and told us how
helpful James Levine was, and also how helpful the Wagners themselves had been.
Richard Wagner's music is especially difficult
for singers, because one has to know every
phrase and every word in a six hour opera. She gave much praise to James Levine,
a conductor who, she says, knows where the
singer needs to breathe, and who gives the singers "thumbs up" when they do
something good. While at Bayreuth, Mr. Levine asked Mr. Wagner if his tempi were too slow. Mr.
Wagner¹s reply was, "The tempi work for you beautifully".
Ms. Hult said she completed her apprenticeship as a prompter in San Francisco and was
there for five years. In 1993, she told us, she did her first full Ring
Cycle with Zubin Mehta at Chicago. (Zubin and I were colleagues in Vienna
when we both studied there, so I found this especially interesting SJH ).
One of our Wagner Society members, Dr. Don Janak, asked if some singers
ignore her. Her reply was, "Oh yes, once I sang a cue, then I sang again, then I
finally spoke the text." Susan added that if a singer is really "off", the
prompter just concentrates on the person coming after that singer.
She told us that it is vitally important for the prompter to stay calm, and
that some singers
are much easier to work with than others. James Morris, for instance, is
wonderful to work with and always appreciative of her work.
At this point, I added that, having been a singer myself in Europe, I knew
prompter was always my best friend and that most singers should really
appreciate the work she does. She was most grateful for my words of
admiration for her work.
Susan Miller Hult's entertaining speech received a standing ovation.
I was so glad that I had decided to go to this unusual event.
Sheila Jones Harms, WSD
Director, International Opera Studio of Dallas
Welcome to The Wagner Society of Dallas. You know, as Texans, we're
bound to strive for being the biggest and best of all the Wagner groups
in the world over.
My hope, in addition, is that we ensure your attendance and
participation by offering an interesting, stimulating, and enjoyable
array of meetings, recitals, and travel. Let us know if you have
suggestions for future activities, and do make an effort to join in
during the coming months with your membership, attendance, and above all
joy of being with fellow Wagner aficionados.
President of the Wagner Society of Dallas
The Wagner Society of Dallas - Virginia R.
Abdo and Dr. James T. Wheeler,
The Wagner Society of Dallas is devoted to furthering the enjoyment
and appreciation of the music of Richard Wagner. The Dallas group is one
of many Wagner Societies all over the world. It is a non-profit
organization open to anyone who enjoys the works of Richard Wagner and
who would like to participate in the Society’s activities.
The Wagner Society of Dallas has monthly meetings and programs which
feature recitals, lectures, video screenings, receptions for opera
singers and personalities, and trips to Wagner performances in other
cities. We welcome music lovers who are already familiar with Wagner’s
works as well as those who may want to become more knowledgeable about
Member Benefits include attendance at programs, our newsletter,
discount on books and CD’s, advance notice of events and selected ticket
services, receipt of the Membership Directory, ticket allotments to
Bayreuth, and an active link with fellow Wagnerians throughout the