New York’s Metropolitian Opera has tapped the Philadelphia Orchestra’s Yannick Nézet-Séguin to be its new music director. Nézet-Séguin will hold the positions simultaneously.
The outgoing music director of the Metropolitan Opera, James Levine, has been a classical music institution himself. But after 40 years, his health has started to fail and a replacement was quietly sought.
Nézet-Séguin will officially start as music director in four years, but, during a live-streamed internet announcement Thursday, he said he will begin working as early as this fall.
“I’m looking forward to start now, to put all my passion to my mission of keeping highest standards in opera with this house, and to make people realize how important opera is in their lives,” said Nézet-Séguin by live video feed from Osaka, Japan, where he is on tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra.
He also said he is the luckiest guy in the world to be leading the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Metropolitan Opera at the same time.
It’s not unusual for a conductor of his stature to hold multiple jobs in multiple cities. Nézet-Séguin also holds positions in Rotterdam and Montreal. His role as principal conductor with the Rotterdam Philharmonic will end in 2018.
Nézet-Séguin appears to be consolidating his obligations into the same geographical region. By holding leadership positions in Philadelphia, New York, and Montreal, he will basically own classical music in the Northeast region.
“What is unique about this position is that he has these two major, international ensembles in so close proximity to one another,” said Jeremy Rothman, the Philadelphia Orchestra’s vice president of artistic planning. “He’s not traveling back and forth to Europe. He can do a rehearsal in one city and a performance in the other in the same day.”
Even though Nézet-Séguin has not yet completed his initial contract with the Philadelphia Orchestra, he has already extended it twice. As he announced his new positions at the Met, he also announced his commitment to Philadelphia until 2026.