Philly orchestra director to also somehow lead NYC’s Met Opera, and it could be great

Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been wearing multiple hats for years — and this new assignment has the potential to bring more star-power to Philadelphia.

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Yannick Nézet-Séguin

Jessica Griffin via the Philadelphia Orchestra

This morning’s announcement that Yannick Nézet-Séguin will take the reigns of the Metropolitan Opera’s coveted music director position shouldn’t come as a huge surprise to those who have been following the maestro for the last decade. He made his Met debut in the 2009-2010 season, leading a new production of Bizet’s Carmen, and has returned to the New York opera company every season since.  Plus, the rumors that Yannick would take the place of the current Met music director, James Levine, have been circulating for years now.

But there’s an interesting catch: He’ll also be “lengthening his tenure” with the Philadelphia Orchestra through 2025-2026. In essence, he’ll be the music director of both institutions simultaneously. How’s that going to work?

It isn’t that far of a stretch.

In fact, the 41-year-old classical music star is already wearing multiple hats: He was appointed to the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012, and has concurrently served as music director of the Rotterdamn Philharmonic Orchestra (since ‘08) and artistic director and principal conductor of the Orchestre Metropolitan in Montreal (since ‘00). Add to that numerous tours of Europe and Asia, and the picture is pretty clear: He’s a multitasker and he’s used to the travel.

Plus, New York and Philadelphia are far closer than jaunts to China (where the Philadelphia Orchestra has been touring this summer).

“Given the close proximity of New York and Philadelphia, Nézet-Séguin will be able to easily commute between his two posts, and the Met and the Philadelphia Orchestra will also be exploring the possibilities for artistic collaboration between the two institutions,” said the Met Opera in a statement this morning.

This means two things: We aren’t losing Yannick, plus there’s a chance we’ll see new opportunities for world-class opera here, in our city.

Nézet-Séguin won’t take full reigns as music director at the Met until the 2020-2021 season, but he’ll start as “music director designate” for 2017-18, when he’ll be leading a revival of Wagner’s Der Fliegende Hollander at the famed New York venue. Philly audiences will get a chance to see his operatic conducting here in town, too, when the Philadelphia Orchestra stages concert versions of Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle in 2017, plus a projected 2018 performance of Puccini’s Tosca.

Bottom line? This could be superb news for Philadelphia. We’re getting the best of all worlds.

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