Yannick Nézet-Séguin named as Metropolitan Opera’s new music director

The 41-year-old conductor will become only the third music director in the history of the Met

The Metropolitan Opera announced Yannick Nézet-Séguin as the company’s new music director. The position has been held by only two artists in the company’s 133-year history: 72-year-old James Levine, who stepped down after 40 years in the position to become the company’s first music director emeritus, and Rafael Kubelik, who held the title briefly in the 1973-74 season.

Nézet-Séguin will immediately become involved in the company’s artistic planning and join as music director designate in the Met’s 2017-18 season, before becoming music director in the 2020-21 season – the first season in which he is available to take over the full responsibilities of the position, working closely with general manager Peter Gelb to oversee planning, casting, commissions and repertoire.

He will conduct five different operas each season from his full appointment, as well as concerts with the Met orchestra. In each of the seasons in which he is music director designate, he will conduct two operas, beginning with his first Wagner opera with the company, a revival of Der Fliegende Holländer in 2017.

Since 2012, Nézet-Séguin has been music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, which on the same day announced he has extended his contract with them to 2025-26. The Canadian conductor and pianist plans to commute between his two posts, and explore the possibilities for artistic collaboration between the two institutions.

He will leave the Rotterdam Philharmonic, where he has been music director since 2008, at the conclusion of the 2017-18 season.

‘Becoming the music director of the Metropolitan Opera is the fulfillment of a lifelong dream for me,’ said Nézet-Séguin. ‘I am truly honored and humbled by the opportunity to succeed the legendary James Levine and to work with the extraordinary orchestra, chorus, and staff of what I believe is the greatest opera company in the world. I will make it my mission to passionately preserve the highest artistic standards while imagining a new, bright future for our art form.’

As a rising star, he made his Met debut in the 2009-10 season, conducting a new production of Bizet’s Carmen, and  returned in every subsequent season, leading performances of Verdi’s Don Carlo, Gounod’s Faust, Verdi’s La Traviata, and Dvořák’s Rusalka, and the opening night performance of the Met’s 2015-16 season, a new production of Verdi’s Otello.

He began his opera career as chorus master and assistant conductor of the Montréal Opera, aged 23, going on to conduct at Vienna State Opera; Royal Opera House, Covent Garden; La Scala; Dutch National Opera; and the Salzburg Festival, among others.

‘Yannick was the clear choice of the company,’ said famed manager Gelb. ‘He is 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.’