met opera puts future in canadian nezetseguin
Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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Last Updated : GMT 07:25:12
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With a youthful flair

Met Opera puts future in Canadian Nezet-Seguin

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Arab Today, arab today Met Opera puts future in Canadian Nezet-Seguin

Yannick Nezet-Seguin, pictured conducting on July 30, 2015
New York - Arab Today

Yannick Nezet-Seguin, a 41-year-old Canadian with a youthful flair, was named Thursday as music director of New York's Metropolitan Opera to succeed legendary conductor James Levine.

The Met announced Nezet-Seguin just weeks after Levine, citing health concerns, said he would retire after 40 years defining the job, one of the most prestigious in the opera world.

Nezet-Seguin, a Montreal native who was just one year old when Levine became music director of the Met, also leads the Philadelphia Orchestra where he has developed a reputation for lively performances.

Speaking from Osaka where he had just conducted the Philadelphia Orchestra, Nezet-Seguin said he had long felt a connection to the "greatest opera orchestra in the world" at the Met.

"I can't recall a day in my life where I've been more joyful, more honored, humbled also," he said via video link at an online announcement event at the Met.

"For me to be in the footsteps of the giant James Levine, who has always been my hero and my inspiration, is something which is really a dream come true -- I dare say, a childhood dream," he said.

- Hip star for Met -

With his jack-in-the-box-like expressiveness as he conducts, Nezet-Seguin has become a favorite of audiences and musicians as he delivers energetic interpretations of symphonic and opera works.

He is also identifiable for his boyish looks and has a tattoo on his right shoulder from a trip to Tahiti of a baton-wielding turtle.

"I have a mysterious job to begin with, but everything has to do with using the right amount of psychology and diplomacy," he said in a 2014 interview with Philadelphia magazine.
A child piano prodigy who initially became a conductor of choral music, he revealed that his tastes extended to R&B music, with a love of Usher and the late Whitney Houston.

Peter Gelb, the Met's general manager, in a statement said Nezet-Seguin was "the right artist at the right time to lead us forward into a new and what I believe will be a glorious chapter in the history of the Met."

But the Met, while one of the premier opera houses, faces struggles to stay financially healthy and fill its ornate 4,000-seat theater.

The Met narrowly avoided a strike in 2014 over workers' conditions, five years after the opera house put up its celebrated pair of Marc Chagall murals as collateral for loans.

Nezet-Seguin acknowledged in an interview last month with Montreal's La Presse newspaper that the Met faced "enormous challenges" including keeping up attendance.

- Multiple jobs -

With opera houses planning out works years in advance, Nezet-Seguin will not assume his role until the 2020-21 season although he will become interim director in 2017-18.

Nezet-Seguin, a guest conductor at the Met every year since 2009, said he had "many, many ideas" but also described himself as an "ear" who would listen to the musicians.

The conductor will remain as music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, one of the leading US classical institutions which is known for its international outreach.

The Philadelphia Orchestra simultaneously announced that it was extending his contract through 2026, the year in which the historic city will celebrate the 250th anniversary of US independence.

The orchestra's president and CEO, Allison Vulgamore, said the institution is "flourishing" under Nezet-Seguin, citing his strong rapport with musicians, audiences and the city at large.

Such simultaneous appointments are common in the opera and classical world for major stars, even in an era when so many young musicians are looking to break in.

Nezet-Seguin will also remain as music director of Montreal's Opera Metropolitain, his breakthrough position which he assumed in 2000.

But Nezet-Seguin, a frequent guest conductor in Europe, resigned a fourth position as music director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic.

He will not be the only new conductor in town. The New York Philharmonic in January naming Jaap van Zweden, a Dutch conductor known for his mastery of the canon, as its music director.

Source: AFP

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