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Met Opera Names Yannick Nézet-Séguin as James Levine's Successor

By Philip Trapp on Jun 02, 2016 08:20 PM EDT

The Metropolitan Opera announced longtime music director James Levine's successor in Yannick Nézet-Séguin. The French-Canadian conductor, who has led the Philadelphia Orchestra since 2012, will not officially take up the post until the 2020-21 season.

As we previously reported, Levine made the decision to step down after the current season due to ongoing medical issues. Previous health concerns had forced the conductor to take a two-year hiatus beginning in May of 2011, returning to the Met in September 2013 to conduct the revival of Così fan tutte.

Levine held the Met's prestigious position of music director for 40 years, starting in 1976. In that time, his name has become near-synonymous with the various broadcasts and recordings by the Met's revered symphony orchestra.

The New York Times reported today (June 2) on a telephone statement from Nézet-Séguin, currently on tour with the Philadelphia Orchestra in Japan:

"I'm very, very lucky, of course -- maybe the luckiest music director -- to be able to have what I believe to be the two greatest, arguably, organizations in the United States, symphonically and operatically: the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Met."

As for the delay in Nézet-Séguin's acceptance of the position, previously scheduled engagements (like the current Japanese excursion with his Philadelphia players) kept the conductor from taking the job any sooner. To secure him as director, the Met had to agree to the long waiting period.

In order to make that gap less of a problem, Nézet-Séguin will direct two operas beginning in the 2017-18 season, taking on the interim title of "music director designate" prior to his untethered arrival in the 2020-21 season. He spoke of the gradual endeavor today

"It's true that in the pit I won't be more present, which doesn't mean that I will be out of touch -- rather the contrary," he said, adding that he planned to start discussions with the musicians right away. "I hope it won't feel like there's a wait, or there's a void."

Watch an example of Nézet-Séguin's conducting prowess from the 2013 Proms:

We want to hear from you: What do you think of Nézet-Séguin as Levine’s Met Opera replacement? Do you agree with the decision? Let us know in the comments section below.

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TagsMet Opera, Metropolitan Opera, The Metropolitan Opera, James Levine, Yannick Nezet-Seguin