MET violist Katherine Anderson has been interviewing the "Humans of the MET" to capture a snapshot of the many personalities who work in the opera house. Here she speaks with Donna Racik, a prompter at the MET since 1988.
KA: What do you love about your job as a prompter at the Met?
DR: I love people and energetically tune into them very easily. It means that combined with all the preparation and study that goes into my job, I literally feel the singers and conductor’s intentions and can support them in various ways. Trust is extremely important in these relationships. For example, when giving singers notes, or asking them to adjust something in a performance they must have enough confidence in my judgement to go with it! We are a big family and team here at the Met...with singers, chorus, music staff, conductors, orchestra and all of the ensembles of people backstage, from costumers to make-up, stage hands and technical staff, to mention only a fraction...it is the ultimate team sport. Everybody here sees through a different part of the prism. By incorporating and encouraging that philosophy, the end product triumphs any possible individual. Does it get any better than that?
KA: Is there an experience that deepened your life journey?
DR: There are many! Certainly one transforming experience is being a mom. My heart was profoundly opened when I had my son, Jeremy, in a way that I couldn’t have expected. What pure joy!! We always think of being mentors to our children, but it is definitely a two way street. They are as much our teachers as we are to them. Living that idea has opened me to totally new and unexpected experiences. I can’t even imagine who I would be without the experience of parenting. Even thinking about it has me grinning. With kids, there’s always a story a day! Things you could NEVER make up!!
Another life experience that affected me deeply was the sudden death of my husband in 1999. I became the recipient of a lot of kindness and help. Some of them were small things but I noticed all of them. They inspired me to go further with my own giving and increased my compassion and empathy for others. There is a native American saying that goes "the soul would have no rainbow if the eyes had no tears.” I think that’s true. My appreciation for every moment in life and joy increased. And it truly makes my day when I can affect someone else's life for the better!
Check out this recent NYTimes article by Corey Kilgannon about Donna and the role of a prompter: