Local Boy Makes Good: Yannick Nézet-Séguin

By Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette, June 2

[Last week, Montreal conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin was appointed the successor of James Levine, the director of the Metropolitan Opera in New York, the most prestigious opera house in the world.]

Yannick Nézet-Séguin…His rise has been spectacular. He has been a popular guest conductor at the Met since the final day of 2009, when he launched (with an arresting cymbal crash) the fastest prelude to Bizet’s Carmen many in the house (including myself) had ever heard. His reputation for mixing energy with lyricism and an intuitive understanding of how to get the best from the people on stage and in the pit has flourished ever since.

For months he was rumoured to be the leading candidate for the Met job. The announcement in April of the pending retirement of Levine should have alerted us to the likely arrival of further news. Perhaps it was surprising to issue the formal announcement while the conductor was on a tour of Japan with Philadelphia Orchestra (of which YNS has been music director since 2012).

But what can you do when you are dealing with a phenomenon like this? Wait a couple of weeks and release the news while he is on a European tour with the Vienna Philharmonic?

While the addition of the Met position (which he occupies formally in 2020–21) to Nézet-Séguin’s existing directorships of the Philadelphia Orchestra (extended in a coordinated announcement to 2025–26) and the Orchestre Métropolitain (where he is booked through 2020–21) might seem to pour more water into a kettle already boiling at the brim, the announcement [to succeed Levine] can be interpreted as Nézet-Séguin’s idea of simplifying his life….


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