Yannick mourns a vital patron

March 4, 2018 by norman lebrecht


Peter Gelb has issued the following notice about the death of Jacqueline Desmarais, Canadian philanthropist and Yannick’s chief champion.

The Metropolitan Opera mourns the passing of Jacqueline Desmarais, the extraordinary French Canadian philanthropist and longtime Board member of the Metropolitan Opera. Ms. Desmarais generously supported the Met’s Live in HD transmissions to Canada and funded Met productions, including our recent new staging of Tosca.

In her native Quebec, Ms. Desmarais championed the careers of young artists and provided financial support to some of Canada’s most important cultural institutions. We will dedicate the remaining performances of Elektra, conducted by Yannick Nezet-Seguin and our live global cinema relay and radio broadcast of Rossini’s Semiramide on Saturday, March 10th to her memory. We send our condolences to her family, friends, and countless admirers around the world.

Peter Gelb, General Manager


Comments (16)

  1. Daniel Poulin says:

    Le jeune violoncelliste québécois Stéphane Tétreault aura la chance de jouer sur un violoncelle Stradivarius d’une grande valeur, autant monétaire qu’historique.

    Le vénérable instrument, fabriqué par le luthier Antonio Stradivarius il y a 305 ans, s’est retrouvé entre les mains du violoncelliste de 18 ans à la suite du décès du violoncelliste Bernard Greenhouse, membre du Beaux-Arts Trio, qui a été propriétaire de l’instrument pendant 54 ans. Il est décédé le 13 mai dernier à l’âge de 95 ans.

    Le violoncelle qui porte le nom de « Paganini, Comtesse de Stainlein », a été acheté après la mort de M. Greenhouse à la maison américaine Reuning & Son Violins par une mécène de Montréal (Madame Jacqueline Desmarais) pour la somme de 6 millions de dollars.

    Chosen as the first ever Soloist-in-Residence of the Orchestre Métropolitain, he performed alongside Yannick Nézet-Séguin during the 2014-2015 season. In 2016, Stéphane made his debut with the Philadelphia Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Nézet-Séguin and performed at the prestigious Gstaad Menuhin Festival in Switzerland. During the 2017-18 season, he took part in the Orchestre Métropolitain’s first European tour and make his debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra.

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      My goodness!

  2. anon says:

    Interesting, reminds me that historically, classical music has always depended on wealthy individuals (kings, princes, counts) as patrons, up until Western Europe taking on that role at the state level and financed by the public treasury, so that the careers of individual artists rose or fell on the whims of their sponsors, which brings me to the point:

    Who knows where YNS would be today if Ms Desmarais has laid her eyes elsewhere?

    Imagine the various cantankerous individuals who leave comments on this site, if they were wealthy, how different the classical music world would be if their personal tastes were backed up by their money. (Based on some comments, James Levine would be back on the podium at the Met!)

    1. Sue says:

      Goodness me; we certainly can’t have people picking and choosing – especially if they’re wealthy. Oh, unless they’re George Soros.+

      1. Herr Doktor says:

        YAY!!! Sue is back, bringing her political rants into subjects that are apolitical save her injections of her signature brand of venom into the discourse.

        Sue, assuming you’re actually a real person and not a Russian troll (I vote the latter), I look forward to hearing you discuss how the Republicans are now officially the party of lies, corruption, and treason. If you want to discuss politics, let’s have a discussion around current politics.

        (Oops…I forgot, they fail to discuss such things on Fox News, so you’re ignorant of these realities.)

  3. Mark says:

    A little historical anecdote: In 1439, during the Council of Florence, the Greek Orthodox Patriarch Joseph was so anxious to reach a union with the Catholic Church that he kept surrendering on almost all the dogmatic disagreements that existed between the churches. He died soon after the short-lived agreement was achieved (it was to no avail, Constantinople fell in 1453 …) An unkind scholar (Sir Stephen Runciman) wrote something to the effect that after his disastrous performance at the Council, what else could the Patriarch decently do?

    So RIP, Madame Desmarais – after inflicting the Little Canadian Sausage on the Met, what else could you decently do, but depart this Vale of Tears !

    1. Michael Comins says:

      And what are your bona fides when calling YNS the “Little Canadian Sausage”?? Have you met, played under or attended a masterclass with him??

      1. Mark says:

        I’ve heard more than enough performances led by him at Carnegie Hall and the Met to form an opinion. Besides, I was referring to his comical appearance – he is a 5’4.5” bodybuilder who looks a bit like a walking Oscar Meyer hotdog.

        1. Ben says:

          Mark, you and Donald Trump could become great golf buddies. Would you like an introduction?

          1. Mark says:

            Yes, please ! And I can introduce you to Elizabeth Warren, you can join her fake-Indian tribe 😉

        2. The View from America says:

          Oh — we all thought the sausage comment was about some other part of the anatomy.

  4. Claude says:

    Daniel Poulin says thank you for this post. Its very inspiring.

    1. norman lebrecht says:

      Merci, Claude!

  5. Herr Doktor says:

    I don’t know the first thing about Madame Desmarais, but I’m grateful that she and others like her are so committed to the arts and put their money where their collective mouths are. She sounds like someone special, to be honest with you. We are not better off with her no longer among us. Thank you, Madame Desmarais, for your love of the arts and humanity.

    And thanks to all the Madame Desmaraises out there.

  6. Nick says:

    I note Anon writes, “Who knows where YNS would be today if Ms Desmarais has laid her eyes elsewhere?” – the implication being that YNS might be nowhere near the Met. Yet surely the late Robert Rattray had more than a little to do with this appointment. After all, he was the co-Chairman of Askonas Holt when YNS was taken on to their books early in the century and it was clear from what YNS wrote in this blog after Robert’s sad passing that they were close friends and colleagues. YNS made most of his major debuts only after joining Askonas Holt.

  7. Emil says:

    Jacqueline Desmarais, Among others, funded entirely the organ of the Maison Symphonique in Montreal, bought a Stradivarius cello for Stephane Tetrault, and generously supported the OSM, OM, Opéra de Montréal, Metropolitan Opéra (i believe she supported among others the Live broadcasts in Canada), as well as the Royal Opéra House. Québec and possibly Canada lost its greatest patron of classical music, by far.

    The organ and the cello in themselves cost over 12 million, in addition to numerous and large regular donations.

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