“Yannick Nézet-Séguin, the Metropolitan Opera’s Music Director Designate, conducted a magnificent performance of Wagner’s Parsifal. This demonstration of his artistry and his ability to inspire the best from the company’s orchestra and chorus was a good sign of things to come.”
New York Times, 6 February 2018
Yannick Nézet-Séguin – Biography
Montreal-born Yannick Nézet-Séguin assumed the interim title of Music Director Designate of the Metropolitan Opera, New York at the start of the 2017–18 season and in September 2018 will become its third Music Director, two years earlier than originally planned. This season is also his tenth, and last, as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic and will draw to a close with the orchestra’s centenary celebrations in Rotterdam in June and a summer tour of the leading European festivals. He continues thereafter as Honorary Conductor. He remains as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a role he has held since 2012, and as Artistic Director and Principal Conductor of the Orchestre Métropolitain (Montreal), where he has served since 2000.
Yannick studied piano, conducting, composition, and chamber music at the Conservatoire de musique du Québec in Montreal and choral conducting at the Westminster Choir College in Princeton, New Jersey before going on to study with renowned conductors, most notably the Italian maestro 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. He made his BBC Proms debut the following year with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, returning in 2010 and 2013 with the Rotterdam Philharmonic. In 2013 he was announced as Artist-in-Residence at the Konzerthaus Dortmund for a three-year period.
His inaugural concerts as Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra received rave reviews and included his Carnegie Hall debut, conducting the Verdi Requiem. Alongside regular subscription and touring programmes, he leads three Carnegie Hall concerts each season. He has now extended his commitment to the orchestra until at least the 2025–26 season, continuing a relationship with his players that has won praise around the world. They are currently in the middle of a season-long celebration of the centenary of Leonard Bernstein: in March 2018 they will be joined by Jean-Yves Thibaudet for concerts featuring Bernstein’s Symphony No.2 for piano and orchestra, and the following month they will perform the Chichester Psalms in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall. Other forthcoming highlights include concerts with pianist Hélène Grimaud and a semi-staged production of Tosca (both May 2018).
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 with a new production of Roméo et Juliette, returning to the city for the 2010 Mozartwoche, for Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals, for concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2015 and for Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in 2016. He made his debut 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 established a highly successful Mozart opera series at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Following his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 with an acclaimed production of Carmen, he has returned each season to lead performances of Don Carlo, Faust, La traviata, Rusalka and Otello. The 2016–17 season saw him take the helm of a revival of Der fliegende Höllander, his first Wagner opera with the company. His second, Parsifal, opened in February 2018 to great acclaim, and in March he will conduct performances of Patrice Chéreau’s production of Elektra. In June 2016 Nézet-Séguin was named as the Met’s new Music Director, a position he assumes next season.
Outside the US, the current season’s engagements have included Brahms’s Ein deutsches Requiem with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Orchestre Métropolitain’s acclaimed first European tour, with concerts in Germany, the Netherlands and France. Future highlights include the Rotterdam Philharmonic’s centenary celebrations, which will see performances of Mahler’s Eighth Symphony in March, a European tour with pianist Yuja Wang in April, two gala concerts with star mezzo Joyce DiDonato in June and a farewell summer festivals tour. In July he will conduct concert performances of Die Zauberflöte at Baden-Baden with Rolando Villazón and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin began a long-term partnership with Deutsche Grammophon in summer 2012, launching a major new cycle of recordings of Mozart’s seven mature operas recorded at Baden-Baden and all featuring Rolando Villazón in the lead tenor roles. Releases to date are Don Giovanni (“strongly recommended” – BBC Music Magazine), followed by Così fan tutte, (“The superb young conductor Yannick Nézet-Séguin draws a dynamic, nuanced and miraculously natural performance” – New York Times), Die Entführung aus dem Serail with Anna Prohaska (“what lifts the recording into the top league is undoubtedly the quality of Yannick Nézet-Séguin’s conducting” – The Daily Telegraph) and the Grammy-nominated Le nozze di Figaro (“Nézet-Séguin demands remarkably virtuosic playing from the Chamber Orchestra of Europe, revealing the inner details of Mozart’s score with unmatched clarity” – Washington Post). Still to come are Idomeneo, 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 Orchestra, offered Tchaikovsky’s heartfelt Pathétique Symphony and selected Romances from opp. 6 & 73, in which he accompanies Lisa Batiashvili at the piano. His Deutsche Grammophon recording of the complete Schumann symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe was released in 2014, as was Gounod’s Faust with Jonas Kaufmann and the Orchestra & Chorus of The Metropolitan Opera on Decca. August 2015 saw DG’s release of an album of Rachmaninov Variations with pianist Daniil Trifonov and the Philadelphia Orchestra. Nézet-Séguin then joined forces again with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe to record the complete Mendelssohn symphonies at the Philharmonie de Paris – a 3‑CD set which was released in June 2017 (“Nézet-Séguin’s imaginative, fabulously executed performances guarantee abiding pleasure” – Gramophone).
Released on 2 February 2018, Visions of Prokofiev showcases Lisa Batiashvili’s performances of the Russian composer’s two violin concertos together with arrangements of three much-loved excerpts from his stage works. Nézet-Séguin is once more at the helm of the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. Following on from their acclaimed live performances of the work, he and the Philadelphia Orchestra (together with three choirs, a marching band and a rich array of soloists) have now recorded Leonard Bernstein’s Mass – the first time this eclectic and epic work will have appeared in the DG catalogue. Mass is scheduled for release in March 2018.
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 six 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); and Penn University (2018). 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) and Officer of the Order of Montreal (2017).