The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Should Yannick Nézet-Séguin be the Metropolitan Opera’s next music director? Here are the pros and cons | May 22, 2016

By Jacob Stockinger

As you may have already heard, the legendary James Levine just retired as the music director of the famed Metropolitan Opera in New York City.

So now the question becomes: Who should succeed Levine?

Several names stand out.

But the smartest money seems to be on the relatively young conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin (below). The French-Canadian and openly gay conductor now leads the Philadelphia Orchestra and is closely attached to the Rotterdam Philharmonic in the Netherlands.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin close up

A comprehensive profile of the charismatic and energetic conductor – who is known for his unique, subtle and powerful interpretations – with the pros and cons of an appointment to The Met was recently written by New York Times music critic Zachary Woolfe.

Yannick Nezet-Seguin in aciton

Woolfe raves about his conducting but then goes on to raise several important points about the difference between being a conductor and a music director. (You can hear a lot of recorded performances of his conducting on YouTube. At bottom is the beginning of an insightful two-part interview with Nézet-Séguin.)

The Ear found the criticism relevant, if a little lopsided, and was impressed overall with the story.

So read it for yourself and decide:

Then leave word in the COMMENTS section and let The Ear and his readers know whether you think Nézet-Séguin should be the next music director of The Met?

Or would you suggest another name?


  1. He’s a talent, that’s for sure. I’d love to see what he could accomplish in the world outside of opera before he signs on at the Met. But, Jake, I had a hard time getting past the words “openly gay” in your description of him. What possible bearing does his sexuality have on his qualifications for any job? The answer is: none.

    Comment by Kathleen Otterson — May 23, 2016 @ 7:53 am

    • Hi Kathleen,
      Thank you for reading and replying.
      I agree with you and would like to believe that sexual identity is not relevant to music.
      But many others do NOT think or act that way.
      Just look at how the Republicans defeated an federal equal rights bill for gay people last week,
      And look at all the recent controversy, discrimination and bigotry over same-sex marriage and transgender people.
      Nezet-Seguin’s being openly gay made news when he was appointed in Philadelphia, and it is good for other LGBT people, especially young people, to have role models and see that LGBT sexual identity dos not have to be an obstacle to a great professional career.
      So including his open gayness, his coming out of the closest, fosters social education and equality as well as psychological well-being.
      Same reasoning, and same press coverage, happened with openly lesbian Marin Alsop as appointed music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.
      In an ideal world, you would be completely right. It should go unsaid.
      But this is not yet an ideal world — especially for LGBT people.
      You may not agree, but I hope you will understand my motivation for including it.
      Let’s see what other readers say.
      Best wishes,

      Comment by welltemperedear — May 23, 2016 @ 8:37 am

  2. I just love his Mozart opera cycle he recorded over the last years so I’m sure the Met would be lucky to get him. I just hope he keeps guest conducting elsewhere as several of his recent symphonic cycles were also great, eg Schumann.

    Comment by Musicophile — May 22, 2016 @ 6:16 am

  3. I believe that the Chicago Symphony might actually be more attractive to him than the Met. Note that R. Mutti, who led La Scala and the Philadelphia Orchestra, is at Chicago and is getting on in years. That might be a better spot.

    Comment by fflambeau — May 22, 2016 @ 2:48 am

  4. I couldn’t read the story (it is by subscription only if, like me, you have already read your allotment of NYTimes articles for the month).

    I think he would be foolish to take the post. The Philadelphia Orchestra is one of the great orchestras of the world and there are plenty of opportunities to conduct operas within that job and guest conducting wherever he wants, anywhere in the world.

    The Met, meanwhile, is in trouble, both financially and otherwise. Plus, taking over with Levine still around would be troublesome.

    Better for him to stay where he is, develop more experience, and not be known as someone who leaves at the drop of a hat.

    In short, he doesn’t need the Met as much as they need him.

    Comment by fflambeau — May 22, 2016 @ 2:47 am

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