Dudamel is finalising his Paris salary

Dudamel is finalising his Paris salary


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2021

We’re hearing from Paris Opéra musicians that Gustavo Dudamel’s agent is negotiating final salary details before the conductor signs on shortly as music director of one of Europe’s more turbulent opera houses.

Part of the deal is that Dude, 39, will remain music director of the LA Phil for an unspecified period, even though he now lives in Spain.

This will be only his third job outside his native Venezuela.

One Venezuelan newspaper, La Vanguardia, has prematurely announced his Paris appointment as a done deal. It’s close, though, likely to be sealed this week.

Dudamel does not speak French, but then neither did Paavo Järvi at the Orchestre de Paris.



  • Alexander says:

    yeah, one of the most turbulent houses yet one of the most influent, affluent and diverse 😉 all the qualities they need to sail in the 21st century

    • violinist says:

      now ,In the scheme of world events it absolutely means nothing and he will be job hunting when the money runs out..talents such as his are a dime a dozen especially in these times, he has learnt to
      play the game quite well but the art form is quite dead no matter the pretense……. its a new world .

      • Alexander says:

        I am not a person to judge whether his talent is dime a dozen or the contract sum he will (allegedly) get 😉 … actually I was talking about Paris Opera, the house is influent, affluent and daring to apply an innovation approach in their daily routine work . As for Mr.Dude – I am not a bad person and wish everyone including you to have as much money as one can consume 😉
        bye for now

  • IP says:

    You have nailed the most important aspect of the deal.

    • RW2013 says:

      Indeed, he’ll probably get a few times what Barenboim wanted but didn’t get way back then.
      And will he take over the Ring in a language he also doesn’t speak?

      • Petros Linardos says:

        Exellent question.

        Are there examples of conductors who excelled in operas in languages they did not speak?

        Abbado in Mussorgsky comes to my mind: was it at the same level as his work in Italian opera? Or did Abbado understand Russian?

        • Pedro says:

          Indeed. One of the best opera performances I attended in my life was Boris at la Scala in January 1981. Abbado, Liubimov, Ghiaurov, etc.

  • The fact that he don’t speak french today is not a problem all the musicians speak english or a little bit of Italian a language Dudamel speaks well. But of course later he will learn french like Chung did in the past when he started to direct Opera de Paris.

    • Rob van der Hilst says:

      Here in the Netherlands, let us make the following agreement: that the Concertgebouw Orchestra will be financed by the English-speaking part of its supporters and no longer by the Dutch and therefore Dutch-speaking taxpayers. Just an adaptation of the existing situation at the fantastic Amsterdam orchestra to its financing. I am convinced that Unesco can play a star role in this.

      • The RCO is already financed (I dont know the
        proportion I’am not dutch) by the forigners like me who see the orchestra on tour or in town (I came once only to see one concert) or buy records. And one half of the orchestra is dutch. And the fact that the orchestra is Royal helped the RCO during the last months to avoid to have the problems we have seen with the english orchestras…

    • Emil says:

      Interesting. Montréal would never tolerate a non-francophone MD (at least not since Dutoit). Dutoit was obviously perfectly fluent in French. A big part of Nagano’s appeal was his ability and willingness to address the public in French and give interviews in French. And Payare’s been taking intensive French classes since November, and spoke (some) French in his introduction video – presumably he’ll have some working capacity by the time he takes the post in 2022. And all that, despite the fact that the common rehearsal language at the OSM is English. And at the OM, they’re proud of being a francophone orchestra (although they switch to English for guest conductors)
      The linguistic context is obviously different between France and Québec; interesting that Paris would accept non-francophone MDs where Montréal would not.

      • I’am sure that Dudamel will make an effort. He speaks alreday Italian it’s a very good start. And he konws that for the publicity of the Opera it will be important for him to speak french when he will make talk shows for exemple.

        • Daniele says:

          He will certainly do it, his wife the actress María Valverde, speaks French fluently, it will certainly help and a lot.

      • V.Lind says:

        Oh, come on, Emil — nobody is as fanatical about the French language as the Quebec government. They go ballistic if a sign says “doughnut.”

        • Emil says:

          French politicians refuse to speak English at the UN, the EU, etc. France has refused to support UN Secretaries General who don’t speak French in several cases. They’re no less attached to French than we are in Québec.

      • Elaine Calder says:

        Perhaps not so hard to understand. Montreal is in the province of Quebec, an island defending its use of the French language in English-speaking North America.

      • The View from America says:

        It’s not that Montreal is a particularly French-speaking city anymore. Today it’s about 50/50 with English.

        Of course, it’s an entirely different kettle of fish up the road in Quebec City, where Franco-chauvinism outstrips anything France has on offer …

      • william osborne says:

        The difference: French is not a threatened minority language in France.

        • V.Lind says:

          French is not a threatened minority language in Quebec either. The country is officially bilingual. (Quebec is not, unlike New Brunswick). OSM conductors? Nobody has a chance of leading Canada unless they are bilingual, and Quebec has more than its share of Prime Ministers in recent decades.

          When I lived in Hong Kong, the Quebec Minister of Trade came over on an official visit, seeking some sort of special trading status with HK. The HK government told him that they had had to work hard enough to learn English, and they would not be learning French just to deal with Quebec. The Minister blithely assured him that there was no need; they would gladly deal in English. That is an assurance no province of Canada ever received, nor the federal government.

          It’s an attitude in Quebec. Much more an attitude than a problem.

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        You’ve highlighted the political dimension to the language. It’s normal that Quebec should fight for its identity in the midst of an English-speaking continent. It’s funny that you need to order a ‘chien chaud’ in Montréal but everyone in France will call it a hot dog. As for Payare, I hope he cuts the mustard; I was distinctly underwhelmed by his offering when he was here.

      • MacroV says:

        That’s because in Montreal they’re often more French than the French. With “fin de semaine,” “stationment,” “chien chaud,” and “courriel electronique” (though that one got adopted by l’Academie Francaise, IIRC). And signs that require bigger lettering in French than in English (which they probably don’t even require in Paris).

        But don’t get me wrong: I love Montreal, and the OSM.

      • violinist says:

        Outside of being an overrated tourist trap does one really care what Montreal does or does not do musically .Milking the language difference is
        its only claim to where it is on the musical map.
        No one “rushes ” to Montreal for the latest in music or much else.For those that visit they do
        find it “charming “in a put down way.

    • fflambeau says:

      The problem is not that he doesn’t speak French; the problem is he is not French and can never be. That will always hang over him and his appointment.

  • V.Lind says:

    What about Gothenburg? He was Principal Conductor there in 2007-8 and worked with them since.

  • Rob van der Hilst says:

    #PleaseStrike So the maestro will – at least, if everything goes ahead – definitely join the pre-pandemic platinum jet set and especially jet lag elite of the international conductor trade (this is in the same economic sector as in which ‘footballgods’ like Messi and Ronaldo find themselves: the sportsstar trade). Oh Covid-19, please strike!

  • Hodgkinson says:

    Laughable. Buying a Debt with enormous debr. Neef trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes yet again.

  • anon says:

    As a multilingual person functioning in various degrees of fluency in various countries, let me just say that this charade of non-native musicians (be they conductors or singers), singing or directing operas in a language not their native tongue, and ditto for the audience, listening to operas not of their first language and most often to a foreign language that they have far less mastery than the non-native opera singers, is pure hubris and farce: neither singer nor audience understands fully what is being sung, it’s one one big game of let’s pretend all really get it.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      “it’s one one big game of let’s pretend all really get it”
      I feel that way about regietheater. Not so about the libretto, when following the subtitles.

    • Arnolphe says:

      Ever heard of ‘music’?

    • Don Ciccio says:

      So I suppose you’re not a fan of Maria Callas, who never sang any opera in her native languages (English and Greek). Nor of Toscanini’s Wagner.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    I admire all the optimism (false?) that surrounds these ‘who captains the many sinking ships currently moored up around the Music world?’.

    ‘X’ moves to here. ‘Y’ might move to there. All providing of course that the money is right.

    Meanwhile the organisations closed to all but a digital camera or their back catalogues depend on the altruism of their taxpayers or in the case of our friends across the Atlantic the beneficence of a handful of the ageing super rich and their tax efficient endowments to keep them from actually sinking. Hoping that this year, next year, sometime never, they will be able to put on a show with the guy or gal who waves the stick for a few million $’s or €’s in the spare time they have from their other equally lucrative engagements.

    Whether the organisations themselves actually weather the current storm seems hardly to figure as long as a supposed big name on the increasingly tattered marguee makes it look like business as usual. With emphasis on the ‘business’.

  • Rodolfo says:

    Don’t count on Dudamel not learning French. He has amazing ears and adding to the fact that he knows Spanish and Italian, he can easily be fluent within two years.

    • Pete kurian says:

      I agree. (Too early to judge his inability or desire to do so)
      I respectfully disagree with the comment that Dudamel knows how to play the game. May not be the case. It would make more sense for him to be based in Europe considering his wife has an active career in Spain.
      I’ve seen the Maestro in Vienna and I would say he is one of the most talented conductors in the world.

    • Daniele says:

      He will certainly do it, his wife the actress María Valverde, speaks French fluently, it will certainly help and a lot.

  • JussiB says:

    This is like learning to cook in a Michelin restaurant. Maybe that’s why he wants to keep his LA job, just in case.

    • MacroV says:

      He will probably keep the LA job because, 1) it’s commonplace for conductors to have two different jobs on two continents, so Norman’s breathless speculation nothwithstanding, what’s the big deal?, and 2) he has an incredible situation in LA: Great, well-financed, and adventurous orchestra with the one of the coolest halls in the world. I can’t see any better orchestra gig for him besides Berlin, who are probably set for at least the next ten years.

      • KH says:

        He and Berlin Phil never gave a damn about each other—at least that is the vibe given off by their live recordings. Compare the performances under him with Berlin and LA Phil in the same repertoire: Don Juan, Till Eulenspiegel, Mahler 5, Shostakovich 5, etc. He might be very diplomatic towards the players and vice versa, but I doubt he is deaf.

        • MacroV says:

          Yet they keep inviting him back to guest-conduct. Even on tour.

          • KH says:

            My point is Berlin Phil does not play their hearts out for him, and he doesn’t try very hard to get what he wants with them either. That’s my impression. Therefore from his perspective it is not clear whether he would consider Berlin a “better” job.

  • Jan Kaznowski says:


    His English improved in a very short time. Don’t worry about his French

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Good on you, Dude; very well done.

  • El Cid says:

    Dudamel will learn French fast. He’ll be speaking French in one month. It is easier for a Spanish speaker just to figure our French.

  • Ovidio Daredo says:

    People with a Romance language as mother tongue can easily be fluent in any other Romance language in less than a year

  • fflambeau says:

    The Dude is King of marketing so I can see why he’s wanted in Paris.

    I think it’s a huge mistake for him. 1) He’s giving up being top cheese in the enteirtainment center of the world for being a non-Frenchman in the most chauvinistic country in the world for nationality. The point is not that he doesn’t speak French, the point is he is not French. That matters in Paris and no one can change it; 2) He’s giving up a post at the most innovative and possibily best paying orchestra in the world for a much more staid position at a 2nd rate opera house rated far below the Met, Milano, or Covent Garden. He likes headlines and he is not going to generate much worldwide in Paris. Far better for him, in my opinion, is the head job at the LSO.

  • Don Ciccio says:

    The French are going to eat him alive, and his limitations will show up. After all, he was booed in Vienna, and there were complaints from singers about the rehearsals.

    • fflambeau says:

      I agree with Don Ciccio. There will be a very brief love affair which will be cut short by a French candidate claiming he was shorted and not even interviewed for the job. Boos will follow.

  • Willem Philips says:

    His nickname is “The Dude,” not “Dude.” Period.

  • fflambeau says:

    Perhaps one of the benefits of this will be who will follow him in L.A. (very talented group perhaps the best paid in the world).

    My bet is on Marin Alsop. She brings a big name, the latin connection, and something new, since she’s a woman. She would be a huge hit in California.

    • KH says:

      The last time Alsop conducted LA Phil appears to be 2012. That’s not very encouraging for an orchestra that has gone out of its way to invite women to conduct.