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Met Opera changes face as young director starts early
In this file photo taken on May 9, 2017 Yannick Nezet-Seguin speaks onstage during the Leonard Bernstein at 100 press event at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse at Lincoln Center in New York City. The Metropolitan Opera announced on February 15, 2018 that young Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin would take charge this fall, two years ahead of schedule, making a fresh break after abuse allegations against his predecessor. Announcing its new season, the New York opera house said the 42-year-old Montreal native would become music director in September after freeing up his schedule from guest conducting commitments. Dia Dipasupil / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP.

by Shaun Tandon


NEW YORK (AFP).- The Metropolitan Opera announced Thursday that young Canadian conductor Yannick Nezet-Seguin would take charge this fall, two years ahead of schedule, making a fresh break after abuse allegations against his predecessor.

Announcing its new season, the New York opera house said the 42-year-old Montreal native would become music director in September after freeing up his schedule from guest conducting commitments.

"The orchestra loves him, the chorus loves him, everyone in the building loves him. He is a truly great artist under whom the Met will only thrive," the opera house's general manager Peter Gelb said in a statement.

The boyish-looking conductor with a shoulder tattoo and youthful flair will offer a quick change in image for the Met, which has come under heat over abuse allegations surrounding Nezet-Seguin's legendary predecessor, James Levine.

The 74-year-old, whose face has been inextricably linked to the Met after 40 years as music director, has been accused by at least four musicians of fondling them when they were teenage students.

The Met in December suspended Levine, who had already retired as music director amid health problems but had planned to stay active in an emeritus position.

The Met, which like so many classical music and opera institutions in the United States is constantly worried about its finances, said it was able to speed up Nezet-Seguin's tenure after a $15 million gift.

The donation came from the Neubauer family behind the Aramark Corporation of Philadelphia, where Nezet-Seguin has made an international name leading the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012.

Nezet-Seguin, who has also directed Montreal's Orchestre Metropolitain, voiced eagerness to start his position and called the Met "the greatest opera company in the world."

Star roster
For his first season, Nezet-Seguin will conduct three operas starting with a new production of Verdi's "La Traviata" and also take the baton for two Carnegie Hall concerts by the Metropolitan Opera orchestra.

He will step up to five operas per season starting in 2020-21, his original start date, the Met said.

Adding to the star power of Nezet-Seguin's music director debut, Placido Domingo will appear in some performances of "La Traviata" in the side role of the elder Germont.

The 77-year-old Domingo, one of the surest audience draws in opera, will also play the title role of Gianni Schicchi in "Il Trittico," a collection of three one-act Puccini operas, and conduct "Aida" on select dates.

Among other mega-stars, Jonas Kaufmann -- who withdrew last season from "Tosca" -- will perform in Puccini's Western-themed "La Fanciulla del West," Anna Netrebko will sing the title role in Cilea's "Adriana Lecouvreur" and Roberto Alagna will play in the season opener, a new production of Saint-Saens' "Samson et Dalila."

Gustavo Dudamel, the acclaimed young Venezuelan conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, will make his Met debut by leading Verdi's "Otello."

The new production of "La Traviata" will star German soprano Diana Damrau -- whose international reputation has been quickly rising -- in the lead role of Violetta, the dying courtesan who longs to reunite with her lover.

The Met said "La Traviata" will feature a set that changes seasons and be directed by Michael Mayer, who is better known for his Broadway productions including the Green Day rock musical "American Idiot."

Mayer will also direct "Marnie," an adaptation of Winston Graham's crime thriller by contemporary composer Nico Muhly, which premiered in November at the English National Opera.

In a decision that took away the time for potential new productions, the Met season will feature Wagner's full Ring season conducted by Paris Opera music director Philippe Jordan.


© Agence France-Presse





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