Hot tip: Dudamel to Paris

Hot tip: Dudamel to Paris


norman lebrecht

December 15, 2020

We’re hearing persistent rustles from Paris that Gustavo Dudamel is to be named music director of the Opéra, succeeding Philippe Jordan who has moved to Vienna.

Dudamel has taken Spanish citizenship and his agent is pursuing a suitable European post. He has made no secret of his ambition to conduct more opera. Paris ticks a lot of his boxes.

The orchestra say they like him. Alexander Neef certainly does.

He can probably balance Paris with his LA job.

Watch this space.



  • sam says:

    He’s no worse for Paris, (probably better) than Sézet-Séguin is for the Met.

    As for Jordan’s tenure in Paris, particularly his Ring … meh.

  • PHF says:

    Venezuelan by convenience to rise from the 3rd world. Time to forget the past and ensure the future with a pompous European citizenship and a Paris job. Very predictable.

  • anon says:

    11 hour flight to Paris.

    Same as 11 hours stuck in LA traffic.

    So no difference in commute time.

  • Hugh Van Dusen says:

    He is not a sure thing as an opera conductor. His
    “Otello” at the Met two years ago was OK but not great.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    How much opera experience does Dudamel have?

    • pianoguy says:

      Who says you need experience these days?

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Good question. When it comes to getting high profile jobs, fame is needed to get the job in the first place. But experience makes a great difference in get the work properly done.

        Haitink at Convent Garden initially had little operatic experience. Was he the best fit when appointed? I don’t know enough to have an opinion.

      • Ron says:

        We just went thru 4 years of Trump.

    • Brian says:

      He’s led some very interesting staged productions of Mozart operas at Disney Hall in recent years, I believe with Peter Sellars, Zaha Hadid and other directors. Aesthetically, he seems like a match for Paris.

      Presumably, the Parisians can tolerate a conductor who isn’t a fluent French speaker. Unlike the rest of Europe, language barriers can be a deal-breaker in France.

  • Greg Bottini says:

    Le Dude!

  • Antony Walker says:

    If Mo. Dudamel wishes to conduct more opera in order to learn the repertoire and the craft that’s fine, but I sincerely hope the Opèra National de Paris appoints as Music Director a conductor who has significant experience both in the pit and working with stage directors and singers in staging rehearsals. There are many career opera conductors who intimately understand the voice, singing technique (and the different techniques of specific repertoires, baroque vs bel canto, for example), language and diction, staging, drama and dramaturgy, can coach a singer from the piano, and can conduct an equally (or more) exciting performance through their passion for and knowledge of the operatic and vocal arts. I hope that Alexander Neef and whomever else is involved chooses one of these experienced, talented, knowledgeable, collaborative and charismatic conductors.

    • RW2013 says:

      Agreed, but do you have a list of such conductors?

      • BP says:

        Antony Walker would seem to fit the bill.

      • one option says:

        Truth be told, I think the best choice for this job would be someone like Alain Altinoglu, current MD of La Monnaie. In just about everything I’ve heard him conduct (Hoffmann, Lohengrin, Troyens, Pelleas, Coq d’or, Carmelites, Bluebeard, and an excellent jump-in for Otello at the Met), he’s been uniformly excellent. He gained experience the old-fashioned way as a repetiteur, and it shows quite honestly. He seems equally happy to work in traditional settings and with experimental conductors, and, most importantly, he seems dedicated to the companies where he is MD (he’s decidedly not a jet-setting type in it for the celebrity). Not to forget he’s a Parisian himself.

        • musicman says:

          Emmanuel Villaume would be another good choice. He is a proven French, charismatic opera conductor who is currently music director of the Dallas Opera

          • The only French musical director I can imagine is Roth without douft the most famous of today. Don’t forget that orchestre de l’Opera don’t have a tradition of french musical director. Beforethe swiss Jordan, there were Barenboim, Chung and Conlon. The great George Pretre directed the institution but he left this place very quickly in the 70’s.

        • I think je I’d very good as Chailly is chard magic and both are perfect for the job. Not much Dudamel. Carmela Serfaty

        • Anthony Sayer says:

          Isn’t Alain Altinoglu going to Frankfurt?

        • Tamino says:

          Couldn’t agree more! What Altinoglu managed to achieve rebuilding the orchestra of La Monnaie to such high level of excellence where they can compete with the finest opera companies in the world is simply extraordinary! La Monnaie has, thanks to Altinoglu, musically become one of the leading opera houses in the world! Neef would be a fool to overlook him and favour of someone at best second rate in the opera world like Dudamel whose opera expertise is very poor in comparison!

          • Manneken Pis says:

            No – don’t take him away from us, Altinoglu is just too damn good! 😉 He’s pretty happy with La Monnaie here, (and the musicians likewise with him!), and everyone knows Belgium is better than Paris in all respects… 😉

      • Pianofortissimo says:

        Chailly, Thielemann, Levine, not so many more charismatic opera conductors…

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        Let’s start with Ralf Weikert.

    • Charles Edwards says:

      Sadly, Antony, the list is not so long, in my humble opinion. I completely agree with what you say.

  • Sly says:

    Not a good match I think

  • zvi says:

    I saw him doing La Boheme in Paris 3 years ago. SUPERB!!!

  • Edgar Self says:

    Remember Ozawa at Vienna State Opera?

    • Anonymous Bosch says:

      Thankfully no: I have erased whatever memories I may have had of the performances in which he stood at the podium. I recall a “Figaro” where during the recitatives he stood with his back against the wall of the pit with his chin on his chest.

    • Herr Doktor says:

      Ozawa’s tenure in Vienna can only be considered a great success. Look at all the sponsorship from Japanese companies that he brought with him.

  • Liloloperluvr says:

    Lucky Parisians

  • RW2013 says:

    Long may he stay
    in the U.S. and A.

  • Leo Doherty says:

    Great news that he’s coming to europe.

  • Mick the Knife says:

    He should open with a Ring Cycle to show his chops.

    • Novagerio says:

      Mick the Knife: The Ring is easy to conduct from a conducting technical point. Try him out with a Carmen or a Bohéme without rehearsals, or worse, Don Pasquale (!) No way you can cheat your way out of those works!

  • Good choice for Opera de Paris a house outside of the administratives problems who had an excellent reputation thanks to what Jordan did the last 15 years

  • Guus Mostart says:

    He is a rather mediocre opera conductor – no pulse, no sense of drama, no breathing with the singers. I heard him conduct Boheme at La Scala and in Paris. Wouldn’t touch him with a barge pole.

    • Let him a little bit of time. And in Paris he will make some other duties outside of opera like Jordan did with sucess in Paris, some requiems for exemple and some ballets. It would be interisting like what Chung did in Paris in the 90’s. Opera de Paris does that also. Recently with the orchestra of the the opera Jordan did a marvelous Alpine Symphony. And don’t forget he’s young. He will not be Chailly in two years.

    • Brian Cooper says:

      I beg to disagree. La Bohème at La Scala in July 2008 was a revelation to me, and anything but mediocre. Wonderful performance. I saw it twice and also happen to know opera singers who appreciate Gustavo Dudamel as a fine opera conductor, and very singer-friendly.

      What exactly was your problem with this production?

      • Guus Mostart says:

        …..doesn’t breathe with the singers, doesn’t shape the music dramaturgically, it’s like watching paint dry. Very mediocre and boring indeed.

        • M2N2K says:

          Several fine professional singers who worked with GD many times this past decade and have no reason to lie have been telling me repeatedly that they always enjoy rehearsing and performing with him very much.

  • Ludwig250 says:

    Opera conducting is a skill that needs to be honed in a repertory theater when you’re young. At almost 40 it’s too late for Dudamel. He should stick to Mahler and the late-Romantic classics.

  • Eveline Horelle Dailey says:

    I will follow his progresses He is formidable.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    It’s ultimately a good move for Dudamel. A decade in the opera house can only do his musicianship good, and Paris will give him some much needed bildung and may introduce him to all sorts of musical/artistic developments he otherwise would have no benefit from.

    But the benefits of him going to Paris are twenty years away, and in the meantime, it’s a risky move for a major opera house which needs an experienced opera conductor who’s already learned the repertoire. Somebody like Noseda or even Welser-Möst would make much more sense.

  • Thomas Burroughs Jr says:

    Go Gustavo ..
    Paris the city of “LIGHTS” for your surpreme musical talents and world class ‘enlightment’.
    A great fit for a great musical master.

  • El Cid says:

    Leaving for Europe. Looks like Dudamel is leaving the sinking ship.

  • KH says:

    I don’t understand some of the overly dismissive attitude towards Dudamel here. He is a fine conductor. His concerts with LA Phil I’ve heard range from good to truly excellent—I wouldn’t say the same for any other music directors of the “top 7” US orchestras. It is true that his concerts are not as good when he is guest conducting. Details are not as fleshed out, textures are not as transparent, balances are not as on point, and rhythms are not as alive. Perhaps he is too nice and doesn’t want to push them. I’ve heard only two opera performances from him: a 75 min. concert performance of selections from The Magic Flute with LA Phil and Otello with MET. Both are fine. Maybe it’s true that he is too inexperienced in opera to be the music director of such an important company. But if Norman is to be believed, both the musicians and the intendant like him. Why not give him a chance? I think he will succeed if he can navigate the politics in that company.

  • Ron says:

    I am a subscriber and member of the Friends of the Paris Opera, and IMHO what Paris needs is stage designers/directors who have actually read the libretto.

  • Pedro says:

    Everyone will be OK except Harding, Ticciati and Viotti.

  • Pedro says:

    That said, Dudamel is a very good choice, taking into account that he is one of the very few great conductors who presently fills only one post. Salonen, Thielemann, Gatti and Mälkki would be my first choices but I understand that nobody wants to deal with the trade unions in Paris.

  • Alexander T says:

    Absurdly overhyped.

  • Anne-Louise says:

    Excellent Bohème in Paris (took care of his singers, on or off the Moon).