The Met splashes cash on Yannick shlockumentary

The Met splashes cash on Yannick shlockumentary


norman lebrecht

May 28, 2021

The Metropolitan Opera has announced the cinema release of a ‘documentary’ it has funded on the life of its music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The term ‘documentary’ usually confers balance and objectivity.

The objective here is flattery and extravagance. ‘Seems to spread joy wherever he goes’.

Here’s the trailer, mostly in short pants.



  • Barry says:

    “The term ‘documentary’ usually confers balance and objectivity.”

    I don’t know if that’s the case in Britain, but it certainly is not in the U.S. As a rule, they tend to be one-sided.

  • New Yorker says:


  • Patrick says:

    Ok, my blood glucose just spiked a bit.

  • Alviano says:

    Many short people do not look their best in shorts, esp. knee-length shorts. Yannick is one of them.

  • Christophe Huss says:

    What are you talking about ???

    This is a 10mn portait From Canadian National News evening program “The National” from 2017. A typical format for this kind of context
    It is more than 4 years old
    It has nothing to do at all with a documentary.

    It may be shared on the Met’s You Tube Channel [you link] as a convenient english speaking conventional portrait

    • Tom Phillips says:

      Thanks for finally bringing some rationality – and FACTS! – to this otherwise quite idiotic discussion.

  • Tiredofitall says:

    Good God. What next, a Peter Gelb documentary? (and don’t think the “content” sycophants in senior staff haven’t suggested it….)

  • phf655 says:

    The source of the linked video is the CBC, i.e. Canadian Broadcasting, and was posted on youtube in 2017. The Met’s website says that the current project (with which the above video has apparently nothing to do) was paid for by a private contribution. It will be first shown as a sort of ‘Live from the Met’, the way opera performances from the Met, whose showings allegedly turn a small profit, are shown in the USA and around the world. The same network of cinemas will be used. Yes, there’s a new documentary, but the way it is reported above is misleading and needlessly critical.
    This is not the first full-length documentary made about Nezet-Seguin. There is another one dating from 2018.

  • Shut it down says:

    Oh FFS. Fire Gelb, his board, shut it down and reorganize. Certainly the musicians and staff could run the place in the interim and still be paid. Plenty of very fine younger singers who need opportunities and won’t bankrupt the place with fees. Enough is enough.

  • Sam in Raleigh says:

    And the slogan “The #1 Classical Music NEWS Site” implies non-opionated, neutral coverage. (Of course, the capitalization is my own — for emphasis.)

    You don’t care for him or the film? That’s fine. But don’t present such an “article” on a “news site” with such overt bias.

    • Bone says:

      It is his site to post news as he sees fit. You should f*ck right off and post your sh*t opinion on your own site – and call it news if you like.

  • NYMike says:

    The dissing of YNS on this blog grows tiresome. He’s loved and respected by the majority of the musicians he leads. He is not Peter Gelb. The Philly Orch. concerts he’s conducted in Carnegie Hall that I’ve attended have all been fine music-making.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      The constant bashing is driven by so many commentators right-wing anti-Met, anti-New York and – in the case of YNS – implicitly homophobic – agenda.

      • Amos says:

        I would like to think I don’t qualify as politically right-wing, homophobic or xenophobic. The notion of producing a “documentary” about a MD who in the 20th century would never be in charge of the MET or PO, on strictly musical considerations, is a sad commentary on the state of classical music. Similar to MG-T the next performance that either leads that makes me want to listen to the end, let alone replay, will be the first.

    • John Borstlap says:

      YNS is a fine musician and a sympathetic young man, who does not indulge in scandals, conflicts, abuse of players, or performing indigestible pieces. What more does one want?

      • Amos says:

        Something special musically to warrant leading two of the premier musical organizations in the country. What you describe is someone who deserves consideration leading a second tier ensemble and demonstrating that he can make them better. Do really believe that he would, at the same stage in his career, have ever been thought of musically as the successor to Ormandy or Muti? If you want to continue the conversation let’s focus on presentation of orchestral music.

        • Saxon says:

          Yes, I think he would have been considered. It is easy for many to have a sepia-tinted nostalgia for the standards of the past, but Ormandy was not particularly highly regarded by many critics in his own era. And many don’t particularly rate Muti at the CSO.

          • Amos says:

            The Muti at the CSO is not the person who was leading the Philharmonia resulting in his appointment in Philadelphia. Sepia-tinted nostalgia plays no role in concluding that the plethora of extraordinary musicians that led orchestras from ~ 1920-1980 are sadly missing in the 21st century.

  • fred says:

    is this the guy who had no clue about the use of chest voice?

    • BRUCEB says:

      You mean the guy who suggested that sopranos not bellow anything lower than a G, but rather follow the musical line and decide whether bellowing is appropriate?


    • Barry Guerrero says:

      Why should he – he’s not singing. Does the singer need to know what side on an F/Bb double horn, a horn player would play their high G# upon?

      • John Borstlap says:

        It’s a subject of great concern. I often lay awake at night about it. Mostly I think the Bb side is better but on some nights it seems the F side.

  • justin says:

    No French accent is worse than the Canadian French accent. It grates on the ears like sandpaper. Like Yannick’s music making. Yannick is pure hype, trashy hype.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    If we all have to tolerate the endless promotion, affirmative action and celebration of people based on their colour, ethnicity or gender then it’s completely logical to see this kind of documentary about a conductor – even if one dislikes him.

    Check your hypocrisy.

    • Amos says:

      You don’t have to tolerate anything. Just pop in your VHS tape of Triumph Of The Will and you are in the world of your dreams.

  • James Weiss says:

    I’m guessing there will be lots of shots of him working out or canoodling with his boyfriend. It will have all the substance of gelatin.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      As I said to NY Mike, this comment is a perfect example of the right-wing homophobia from a Trump-supporting neanderthal that drives so many of the readers of this site.

      • James Weiss says:

        Goes to show how narrow-minded you are. I’m not right-wing nor did I ever vote for Trump. I’m also gay. Three strikes, you’re out. Care to try again?

      • John Borstlap says:

        A research team at the Texas Institute of Technology has recenly measured the amount of neanderthal contributions on SD and the result is 73% neanderthal, 18% middleclass sanity, and 11% insight. The team made special mention of my own contributions as being as definite as pointless.

  • FrankInUsa says:

    Looks like YNS is in the crosshairs of NL/SD
    NL/SD. Leave him alone. Time and performance will be The Ultimate Editor.

  • Theodore Fink says:

    Admitedly, I’m a fan of Nezet-Seguin. But this is simply because of the deep pleasure he gives me every time I hear him conduct
    I’ve never heard anyone say a harsh word against him.
    The first, actually, is to call this a “schlockumentary”.
    He’s a wonderful musician and a really nice guy.
    So what’s wrong with praising him? He deserves it.

    • John Borstlap says:

      There is the story that he actually is a quite wild, uncouth type prone to outbursts of hysteria and anger, egocentric as a rhinoceros and dominatingly patriarchal as St Augustine, but that his manager has made him taking a training course to keep all of this behind a façade of perfect charm, lest anybody detects the darkness from which his interpretations are wrestled. But I don’t think it’s true.

  • cynical bystander says:

    I have been known to attempt a defence of Gelb in the current standoff at the MET but this seems to me to a totally tone deaf and insensitive provocation by him, particularly when we have already seen far too much of a deshabille Séquin over the past 12 months. The Board will do nothing and after so long I suspect that the audience will be only too willing to forgive and forget this latest affront should the doors open in September.

  • Timothy Goode says:

    Cynicism is sadly the prevalent response to so manym threads. I have been present at many concerts led by Yannick Nézet-Séguin, and the abiding memory of them all has been a shared joy in music making that spreads from him and the musicians to the audience. He is a crowd pleaser. Great news – classical music needs crowd pleasers! It also helps that the musical standards of each performance have been consistently high.

  • M says:

    i just can’t even watch. he’s a nice guy that is for sure but i assume this to be hagiography… and well, the sun shines and basically any activity if preferable to this.

  • Alter Frager says:

    Who in their right mind thinks that an opera company would release a critical film about their music director? On to the next Met-hate item

    • John Borstlap says:

      How would such PR exercise look, I wonder. An opera company or orchestra making a documentary about all the bad habits of their MD, following him into cafés, brothels, tax havens, reporting his violent abuse of an usher, documenting how he pulled a bass tuba over the head of the poor player, getting drunk at a gala, beating-up his wife, firing racist insults to Korean audiences, etc. etc. and all with the hope it would attract younger listeners.

  • TOPO says:

    Really necessary??

  • CA says:

    How ridiculous.

  • Sarah says:

    Do we know how much they contributed? CBC clearly led the charge here. Is it confirmed that the Met funded it?

    • Tiredofitall says:

      The film was funded by the family of the late Jacqueline Desmarais, a Met board member and major donor. Without the financial support of Mrs. Desmarais, Yannick would never have had a prayer of becoming music director of the Met.

  • John Borstlap says:

    It’s a commercial.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      L:ike “The Making of the Ring at the Met”. I think we all remember how that turned out. Victory before the win.

  • Jack says:

    Funded by the Met? Then why does their publicity state

    “This film is made possible thanks to the generosity of Louise, Sophie, and André Desmarais, in memory of their mother, Jacqueline Desmarais, and to underscore her love of music.”

    Really Norman . . .

    • Tiredofitall says:

      The project funding no doubt went through the Met for Ms. Froemke’s film, like the five or six other Met/Froemke collaborations. I doubt Ms. Froeme developed this project without the commission of the Met.

  • GUEST says:

    OK, serious question. Why do Norman and so many others seem to hate this guy? Having seen his Elektra and Parsifal at the Met, IMHO he’s phenomenal.

    • Alviano says:

      It’s simple: he is young and openly gay.

    • Tom Phillips says:

      They hate anything associated with the Met and Peter Gelb. And many of the readers (NOT Norman) are ultra-right wing and despise openly gay people/performers as well.

      • Petros Linardos says:

        The hatred seems more generalized around NY: MET, NYPO, NYT… Clive Gillinson seems spared.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          If you think I am motivated by hatred, you should stop visiting this site. Starting now.

          • Petros Linardos says:

            I am not into second guessing people’s motivations. But I stand by my previous comments.

            I don’t see your blog or your actions in black and white. Some posts are excellent, some conversations are stimulating or entertaining. So I keep coming back. Nobody is perfect, myself included.

          • norman lebrecht says:

            On the contrary, you have a very binary perception.

        • Tiredofitall says:

          Mr. Gillinson has done a superlative job at Carnegie Hall and does not publicly toot his own horn. Carnegie Hall remains Carnegie Hall and not some appendage of it’s general manager. Self-promotion invites criticism, deserved or not. Let the work speak for itself.

  • BrianB says:

    Lol. Reminds me of the Manchurian Candidate. “[ Yannick Nézet-Séguin] is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life.”

  • Jan Powell says:

    Why so much hate for Yannick? I’m curious and want to know what he’s done to warrant all the bad feeling.

    • musician says:

      He hasn’t done anything. He has spinelessly been absent while the MET management has starved its company and tried to destroy contracts for going on 14 months now. Real musician directors stand by their musicians in moments like this. They are suppose to be leaders. I, like so many others, wonder how he could have thought staying silent was the way to go. I understand he’s afraid of Gelb and the Board, but I can’t imagine the vitriol my colleagues in the MET orchestra will have for him, should they ever return to work. From what I gather, musicians all around the world (I know quite a few) are generally disappointed in him.

      • NYMike says:

        Your “colleagues in the MET orchestra”?? Are you implying that you’re in the orchestra?? I think not. YNS is liked and respected by my FRIENDS in Philly and the MET.

  • Tony says:

    We all need to do something we regret later, I guess.
    May nothing worse happen to Yannick.
    This video is total garbage.

    • Tiredofitall says:

      Sadly, in the age of streaming, it will not be able to buy up all of the video copies in the future to avoid embarrassment, as many an aspiring Hollywood starlet may have tried to do.

  • M.Y.Vest says:

    I believe that from now on all conductors should pose (but not conduct) in shorts and vests and follow the best conductor that ever existed example. Yannick Yannick how great you are… and so on…… Gurnemanz may approve, but I’m not sure

  • doofus1714 says:

    dear Mr. Lebrecht,
    what did Y N-S ever do to you to provoke such petty dislike? ….that he is replacing you fave JL? the other trolls here follow suit of course. the pettiness and quite frankly dumbness in which you and your trolls indulge detracts mightily from the value of tour site.

  • John Borstlap says:

    There seems to be such a agreement among so many people to bash Yannick Nézet-Séguin, that cannot be based upon something real. So, he must be very good.