Yannick Nézet-Séguin became third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, New York in September 2018. That same year, at the end of a decade-long tenure as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic, he was appointed the orchestra’s Honorary Conductor. Having become Music Director of The Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, he has now extended his commitment to the orchestra until 2030 and accepted the expanded title of Music and Artistic Director. Nézet-Séguin is also Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), where he has served since 2000. In September 2019, it was announced that he had accepted a lifetime contract with the Orchestre Métropolitain – a move that reflects the profound mutual trust between players, management and conductor.
Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in his native Montreal and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably Carlo Maria Giulini. By the time he made his European debut in 2004 he had already founded his own professional orchestra and vocal ensemble, La Chapelle de Montréal, going on to conduct all the major ensembles in Canada. In 2008 he was appointed Principal Guest Conductor of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, a post he held until 2014.
Nézet-Séguin is equally at home on the concert platform and in the opera pit. He made his debut at the Salzburg Festival in 2008 and at the Teatro alla Scala in 2011, has also conducted at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, the Vienna Staatsoper and Netherlands Opera, and has helped lead a highly successful Mozart cycle at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Previously Chorus Master, Assistant Conductor and Music Adviser at Opéra de Montréal, during his time there he led productions of operas as varied as L’incoronazione di Poppea, Così fan tutte, L’elisir d’amore and Pelléas et Mélisande.
Following his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 with an acclaimed production of Carmen, he returned each season, leading performances of Don Carlo, Faust, La traviata, Rusalka, Otello, Der fliegende Holländer, Parsifal and Elektra. In his inaugural season as Music Director, Nézet-Séguin conducted La traviata, Pelléas et Mélisande and Dialogues des Carmélites, as well as directing the Met Orchestra outside the opera house for the first time, in two concerts at Carnegie Hall. Notable moments since then have included the Verdi Requiem in September 2021 to mark the 20th anniversary of 9/11 and, the following month, the historic opening night of the 2021–22 season, which saw the Met’s first performance of an opera by a black composer: Terence Blanchard’s Fire Shut Up in My Bones.
Early highlights of the conductor’s 2023–24 season include a concert with the Orchestre Métropolitain in Montreal featuring a world premiere by Cris Derksen, Sibelius’s Second Symphony and Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 2 with soloist Bruce Liu (16 September); the landmark Met premiere of Jake Heggie’s Dead Man Walking (26 September); and more Rachmaninoff with The Philadelphia Orchestra at Carnegie Hall (17 October) and on tour in Europe (October/November).
Yannick Nézet-Séguin signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in May 2018, continuing a long-term partnership that had begun in 2012 with the launch of a major new cycle of Mozart’s mature operas recorded at Baden-Baden and all starring Rolando Villazón. Six have been released: Don Giovanni, Così fan tutte, Die Entführung aus dem Serail, Le nozze di Figaro (the latter pair Grammy nominated), La clemenza di Tito and Die Zauberflöte.
Nézet-Séguin’s debut orchestral recordings with Deutsche Grammophon were released in September 2013. In the first he conducted The Philadelphia Orchestra in its first studio album release for a major label since a recording with DG in 1997. It featured Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and Stokowski transcriptions of music by Bach and Stravinsky. The second recording, with the Rotterdam Philharmonic, offered Tchaikovsky’s Pathétique Symphony and selected Romances from opp. 6 & 73, in which Nézet-Séguin accompanies Lisa Batiashvili at the piano. His recording of the complete Schumann symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was released in 2014, while 2015 saw the release of an album of Rachmaninoff Variations with Daniil Trifonov and The Philadelphia Orchestra. Nézet-Séguin then joined forces again with the COE to record the complete Mendelssohn symphonies – a 3‑CD set released in June 2017. Duets, recorded with Rolando Villazón, Ildar Abdrazakov and the Orchestre Métropolitain de Montréal, was issued three months later.
Released in February 2018, Visions of Prokofiev showcases Lisa Batiashvili’s performances of Prokofiev’s violin concertos together with arrangements of three excerpts from his stage works. Nézet-Séguin is once more at the helm of the COE. After giving acclaimed live performances of the work, he and The Philadelphia Orchestra recorded Bernstein’s Mass, which was added to the DG catalogue (its first appearance there) in March 2018. Released three months later, The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra Collection is a 6CD set of previously unissued live recordings hand-picked by Nézet-Séguin.
In 2020, the conductor and his Philadelphia players released a recording of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony, a monumental work captured by DG during a performance at Philadelphia’s Verizon Hall to mark the centenary of its US premiere. Then, having returned to his piano during lockdown, Nézet-Séguin recorded works by composers from Bach, Haydn and Mozart to Shostakovich and Berio for Introspection, his debut DG album as soloist, released in June 2021. This was followed by the digital release of his recordings with The Philadelphia Orchestra of Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3 by the pioneering African-American composer Florence Price in September, which then came out on CD in January 2022. Their album was awarded the Grammy for Best Orchestral Recording and a Diapason d’or award.
In July that year, DG issued Nézet-Séguin’s readings of the complete Beethoven symphonies with the COE, the first recorded cycle based on the New Complete Edition of the composer’s works. That same month saw the release of A Concert For Ukraine, a recording of an event held at the Metropolitan Opera to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people. The conductor led a cast of star soloists and the Met Orchestra and Chorus in music designed to offer solace and hope. Finally that year, he and The Philadelphia Orchestra joined Lisa Batiashvili in Chausson’s Poème on the violinist’s Secret Love Letters album.
A key focus in recent years for Nézet-Séguin and his Philadelphia forces has been the music of Rachmaninoff, a composer with uniquely close links to the orchestra. They have recorded the complete piano concertos with Daniil Trifonov: the first of two albums – featuring Nos. 2 and 4 – was released in October 2018 and won the Concerto award at the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards; the second, featuring Concertos Nos. 1 and 3 together with Trifonov’s transcription of Vocalise and The Silver Sleigh Bells, was released a year later and nominated for a Grammy Award. Conductor and orchestra then recorded Rachmaninoff’s symphonies and other orchestral works. Their readings of Symphony No. 1 with the Symphonic Dances were released in January 2021, while volume 2, a double album presenting Nos. 2 and 3 and Isle of the Dead, came out in June 2023, as part of the Rachmaninoff 150 celebrations.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s honours include Musical America’s Artist of the Year (2016), ECHO KLASSIK’s Conductor of the year (2014), a Royal Philharmonic Society Award; a National Arts Centre Award; the Virginia Parker Prize; the Prix Denise-Pelletier; and the Oskar Morawetz Award. He holds eight honorary doctorates, from the University of Québec in Montreal (2011), Curtis Institute of Philadelphia (2014), Westminster Choir College of Rider University (2015), McGill University in Montreal (2017), Université de Montréal (2017), Penn University (2018), Université Laval (2021) and Drexel University in Philadelphia (2023). He has been appointed a Companion of the Order of Canada (2012), Companion to the Order of Arts and Letters of Québec (2015), Officer of the Order of Québec (2015), Officer of the Order of Montreal (2017), Honorary Fellow of the Royal Conservatory of Music (2020) and Officer of Arts and Letters of the French Republic (2021).