Shoes to step in don't come much bigger than this: Yannick Nézet-Séguin has been named to succeed James Levine as music director at the Metropolitan Opera.
Nézet-Séguin, a native of Montreal, is currently music director of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He will continue on in that post, where he's contracted through 2026.
After reportedly contentious negotiations with Levine, who at 72 is facing health struggles, the Met announced in April that its longtime artistic leader would step down at the end of this season. Nézet-Séguin won't start his new job until 2020, leaving a challenging four-year interim period for the world's most prominent opera company.
That's a long wait. As Anthony Tommasini observes: "To put this time lag in perspective, whichever presidential candidate is elected in November will be in the final stage of a re-election campaign when Mr. Nézet-Séguin takes the podium as the Met's music director."
Opera fans are already hailing the appointment of Nézet-Séguin, 41, who has earned warm reviews for several shows he's conducted at the Met over the past several years. Though the Met is 136 years old, the title of "music director" originated with Rafael Kubelík in 1973, and Nézet-Séguin will be only the third person to have that title.
In a statement, Levine said, "I offer my heartfelt congratulations to Yannick on taking the musical reins, and I look forward to seeing the good work continue under his watch."