“[Yannick Nézet-Séguin] really brought his best qualities as a musician and musical director to the fore. It can’t be stated enough just how polished the Met Orchestra is under his baton. Every single note is in its place and the blending of the different colors is sublime … But what was most impressive was his ability to explore the musical form of the opera with nuance and elegance … the musical direction was as good as one could ask for.”
Operawire, reviewing Dialogue des Carmélites, 9 May 2019
Yannick Nézet-Séguin – Biography
Yannick Nézet-Séguin became third Music Director of the Metropolitan Opera, New York in September 2018. His tenth, and last, season as Music Director of the Rotterdam Philharmonic was crowned by the orchestra’s centenary celebrations in Rotterdam in June 2018, a summer tour of the leading European festivals and his appointment as Honorary Conductor. He remains Music Director of the Philadelphia Orchestra, a role he has held since 2012, and also 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 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 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 in 2009 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. Highlights of the 2018-19 season included a Midwest US tour with violinist Lisa Batiashvili; concerts in Philadelphia and at Carnegie Hall with mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato and with pianists Jan Lisiecki and Beatrice Rana; and the orchestra’s twelfth tour of China, with a series of coaching sessions and masterclasses, among other cultural exchange activities.
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, Don Giovanni at the 2010 and 2011 summer festivals, concerts with the Vienna Philharmonic in 2015, Haydn’s Die Schöpfung with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe in 2016 and two appearances with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at the 2019 summer festival. 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 helped lead a highly successful Mozart cycle at the Baden-Baden Festspielhaus with the COE. Previously Chorus Master, Assistant Conductor and Music Adviser at Opéra de Montréal, during his time there he led productions of L’incoronazione di Poppea, Il barbiere di Siviglia, Così fan tutte, Pelléas et Mélisande, L’elisir d’amore, Wozzeck, Madama Butterfly, Salome and Elektra.
Following his Metropolitan Opera debut in 2009 with an acclaimed production of Carmen, he has returned each season, leading 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. This was followed by Parsifal in February 2018 and by Richard Strauss’s Elektra a month later. In his inaugural season as Music Director, Nézet-Séguin conducted La traviata (December 2018), Pelléas et Mélisande (January 2019) and Dialogues des Carmélites (May 2019), as well as conducting the Met Orchestra outside the opera house for the first time, in two concerts at Carnegie Hall (3 and 14 June). The 2019-20 season will see him take the helm at the Met for productions of Turandot, Wozzeck and Werther.
Nézet-Séguin’s recent engagements have also included appearances in Canada with the Orchestre Métropolitain, pianists Nicholas Angelich and Hélène Grimaud, and bass Ildar Abdrazakov; a European tour with the Berliner Philharmoniker; and performances of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.13 in Rotterdam, Paris and Dortmund with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and bass Mikhail Petrenko. In the summer of 2019, he made a series of festival appearances in the US and Canada with the Philadelphia Orchestra and Orchestre Métropolitain, conducted the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks at the BBC Proms as well as in Salzburg, and travelled to Lucerne to conduct the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and violinist Leonidas Kavakos.
A major highlight of the new season will be his nine-concert series at Carnegie Hall as one of its 2019-20 Perspectives Artists – this will include the Orchestre Métropolitain’s debut appearance at the legendary venue (during the orchestra’s first US tour) and a Beethoven symphony cycle with the Philadelphia Orchestra. He will also move from the podium to the piano for one of these concerts as he accompanies Joyce DiDonato in their interpretation of Winterreise.
Yannick Nézet-Séguin signed an exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon in May 2018, continuing a long-term partnership that began in 2012 with the launch of a major new cycle of recordings of Mozart’s mature operas recorded at Baden-Baden and all starring Rolando Villazón. Six recordings have been released to date: Don Giovanni; Così fan tutte; Die Entführung aus dem Serail; the Grammy-nominated Le nozze di Figaro; La clemenza di Tito – hailed as “an exemplary recording” by Opera News, whose review also praised Nézet-Séguin for leadership displaying “a heightened awareness of the musical and theatrical needs of each passing moment”; and Die Zauberflöte, released in August 2019.
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 August 2015 saw the release of an album of Rachmaninov 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. His latest release is Destination Rachmaninov – Departure, the first of two albums made with Daniil Trifonov and the Philadelphia Orchestra devoted to the complete Rachmaninov piano concertos. Released in October 2018, it features Concertos Nos.2 and 4 and won the Concerto award at the 2019 BBC Music Magazine Awards. Its companion piece, Destination Rachmaninov – Arrival, featuring Concertos Nos.1 and 3 together with Trifonov’s transcription of Vocalise and The Silver Sleigh Bells, will be released in October 2019.
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).