Just in: Yannick crashes out

Just in: Yannick crashes out


norman lebrecht

November 30, 2021

The Metropolitan Opera and the Philadelphia Orchestra have let it be known overnight that their music director, Yannick Nézet-Séguin is taking a month off, starting December 19, apparently with exhaustion.

‘This short break will allow time for me to re-energize as we return in the new year with more inspiring art,’ Yannick is quoted as saying.

His last show at the Met will be this week’s troubled Tosca. Xian Zhang has been called in from New Jersey to make her Philadelphia subscription debut in the populat New Year’s concert.

Yannick, 46, has too much going on. In addition to the Met and Philly, he remains music director at Montreal’s Orchestre Métropolitain and is closely involved with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe and various summer festivals.

Greybreards have long advised him to take a break.

It’s barely ten days since the NY Times was celebrating his superhuman ubiquity – ‘at the center of it all’.




  • Bet says:

    Yannick for music director of the NY Philharmonic!

    Quit Philadelphia, consolidate New York, you’ve already secured an unprecedented 9 performances at Carnegie Hall, the NYT has already crowned you New York’s Conductor, New Yorkers already love you, forget about Philly, drop the commute, the synergy is much better across Lincoln Center than across the Holland Tunnel.

    Deborah Borda, are you taking notes?

    (Keep Montreal though, for when America shuts down during pandemics and stops paying its orchestras, and for when Trump comes back.)

    • Orchestra fan says:

      This is satire, right?

      Who in their right mind would ditch a top rated orchestra like Philly for a 2nd rate band known for the bad attitude of its players?

    • Karl says:

      Maybe he should get himself cloned. It didn’t work out well for Michael Keaton in Multiplicity, but I’m sure the tech has improved a lot since then.

    • Alex says:

      He did nothing – or so little – in Montreal during the pandemic…

    • Ed says:

      You are a selfish jerk. Yannick was unknown when he came
      to Philadelphia 10 years ago and he built his reputation here. As usual, New Yorkers think they created the world!

      • Nick says:

        Neither NY nor Philadelphia matters. What matters is when a so-so conductor is hailed a genius!
        Tell us about the sad state of the conducting field.

  • A.L. says:

    Yep. The tradition continues. That is, the New York Times role as press organ for the Metropolitan Opera, rain or shine. But credit where credit is due. For instance, these are words Zachary Woolfe authored to (sort of tactfully) rate Netrebko’s new album:

    “super-wide vibrato”
    “struggles to sustain the long, lush lines”
    “soft phrases waver”
    “shaky from start to finish”“high notes are difficult throughout”
    “press her to her limits”“audibly challenging for her”

    So maybe the days of gushing over everything and everyone, in AT fashion, are over?


  • PS says:

    Here’s to the ladies who lunch. For a month. Another second stringer. I’ll drink to that.

  • Paul Sekhri says:

    Good for him for taking a well-deserved rest.

  • msc says:

    He is clearly spread too thin. No one could give all those institutions the commitment and care they deserve from a music director or principal conductor, and for which N-S is paid.

    • Monsoon says:

      If you’re going to make that allegation, please provide an example of how YNS is skirting his responsibilities.

      • l.s. says:

        He literally just cancelled 10 performances of Figaro at the Met in the New Year on this account.

        • Monsoon says:

          Having multiple jobs wasn’t the cause of that — he’s held these positions for a while and this is the first time he’s done something like this. Obviously something else is going on in his life.

          • Nick says:

            Who cares? “something else is going on?…..” QUIT!! If one is a professional. YNS is a questionable one.

  • Kathleen E King says:

    So much for the inviolability of contracts — or a simple sense of responsibility! This overpriced, over-hyped “personality” doesn’t HAVE musical sensibilities to rehabilitate or recharge, just a VAST sense of how entitled and important he is. Figures that Peter Gelb thinks he’s great, GELB thinks he himself is, but amazing that the Philadelphia which has had a history of REAL musician conductors fell for him. C’mon, fire him! He has no sense of musicianship or responsibility.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      “…a simple sense of responsibility!” Surely you jest; that’s all just so YESTERDAY. Right across the societal board.

    • Musicman says:

      Gelb hired Yannick for one reason. After he finally had to kick Levine out, the gay mafia was outraged. If he had hired Fabio Luisi, who was a more experienced and better qualified opera conductor, but a straight man with a wife and kids, the lavender mafia would have absolutely destroyed him!

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Moronic theory. What “gay mafia”? BTW, Luisi was admired by everyone at the Met. He got screwed by Gelb. However, he got the last laugh.

        • Musicman says:

          Most people are aware of the stranglehold that homosexuals have on the opera world, but are afraid to talk about it for fear of career ramifications. In an anonymous place like here, where people can be honest, notice that my comment got more thumbs up than thumbs down. It’s not a mafia in that they won’t kill you, but they will ruin your career if you don’t please them, thus why Gelb was to scared to hire the best qualified candidate.

    • Chicagorat says:

      REAL musicians.

      The Philadelphia had the dubious honor of having Muti – the Bill Clinton of classical music – as its Music Director. Muti sets as low a bar as you can get, arguably as a musician, incontestably as a human being. If I ran the Philadelphia, I’d hang onto Maestro Nézet-Séguin real real tight.

  • Pettyboy says:

    Would really love to know why this blog has such a problem with Yannick. As far as public figures go, Yannick seems a generally nice guy, who many people enjoy watching conduct. His orchestras in Philly and montreal found ways to stay active throughout the pandemic, so perhaps he just needs the break many of his colleagues were forced to have the last 18 months. [redacted]

    • norman lebrecht says:

      I have nothing against Yannick and have reviewed him positively elsewhere. However, every professional must respect ones’s commitments. To withdraw mid-season is bad form, unless there is a compelling medical reason.

      • Tiredofitall says:

        Totally correct…a seasoned professional musician can plan their commitments to prevent over-extension. Yannick wants it all (read: greed) and the institutions to which he is contracted have to suffer the consequences. There are more fish in the sea…

        • BRUCEB says:

          Trying to give YNS some credit here: maybe it’s not greed in the sense of wanting ALL the money and ALL the attention, but rather a sort of excitement, leading to what looks a lot like hubris?

          A sort of “how could anyone say no to the Met? It’s a dream come true! And how could anyone say no to an orchestra like Philadelphia? That’s also a dream come true! And how could anyone cut their ties to the orchestra where they got started?”, coupled with “I can do it! Everyone says it will be too much, but I can do it all! Because I’m full of enough fire and passion to conduct the whole world!” Etc. etc.

          …only to find out that the greybeards were right, and it really is too much.

          Or maybe he just needs a juice cleanse and some vitamins.

        • Sue Sonata Form says:

          But have you ever seen one waving a baton?

      • V.Lind says:

        Exhaustion may be a compelling medical reason. I know from experience that employers don’t like it, but I have seen people who have worked too hard and too long burn out to the point of requiring much more time off than a simple month might have solved in the first place.

        That said, I agree to some extent with Tiredofitall below that perhaps he should be planning more carefully to avoid such things. I doubt it is greed, but his desire to be an international conductor might need a re-examination. The proximity of NY, Philly and Montreal makes those three commitments seem manageable, but maybe he should restrict his European forays to the odd guest appearance for the time being.

      • Sue Sonata Form says:

        Kleiber, Kaufmann, Netrebko… the list is long on prima donnas who don’t think they need to fulfill their obligations. .

      • Christophe Huss says:

        So, if you have “nothing against Yannick”, can you explain us why you use and use and re-use the image of a fake account (instagram or tweeter) clearly created by Yannick haters to destroy his public image by diverting the use of the picture of an Advertisement of one of the sponsors of his Montreal orchestra?
        Same fake account has been used on Facebook to try to hack his fan base.
        Don’t make us believe you think honestly he ever posted this !

      • Clive M. says:

        The State of New York has just been placed in yet another state of emergency status. In the ensuing weeks they shall be demanding one’s vaccination “papers” just as the Gestapo did in order to gain entry prior to renewed business closures and lockdowns again.

        Democrat rule aligns with Communist tactics as usual.

        Sadly Democrats can’t think critically thus getting livelihoods ripped away again. However Biden is REFUSING pandemic stimulus to spite Trump rendering leftists vulnerable to poverty and homelessness as they remain silent like the lemmings they have devolved into.

        Sometime early next year the Met along with the rest of the state will succumb to closure again. Governor Hochul who replaced Cuomo after his multiple sex scandal downfall hasn’t offered state stimulus or explained why federal rent and mortgage funds were NEVER DISBURSED! Jobs that can support a household are still not available either. No examples are ever available. Many suicides nobody wants to acknowledge too.

        The Met singers, chorus and orchestra remain in shambles without financial support from Gelb and the Board with no one reporting their plight either Norman. These people are worth acknowledging and helping beyond superficially bolstering YNS.

    • Noaname says:

      He … a… kind of synthesized niceness to be nice

    • Nick says:

      “Nice guy” is not a profession!!

  • Maria says:

    People are extremely tired and burnt out after this virus, so best to let it be …

    • Tiredofitall says:

      People without resources–and sadly there are many, including nearly every artist (NOT) on the Met payroll during the 2020-21 season can use the virus as an excuse. YN-S doesn’t qualify for that exemption.

  • NotToneDeaf says:

    I’m so tired of conductors who measure their worth in how many frequent flyer miles they have.

    • Monsoon says:

      Philadelphia and New York are separated by a 1:15 hour train ride.

      New York to Montreal is a 1:30 hour flight.

      YNS is one of the few conductors whose major posts aren’t separated by an ocean or continent (unlike Nelsons, Dudamel, etc.) — so I don’t understand why he gets beat up so much for his multiple appointments.

      • Piston1 says:

        You must be joking. The most over-booked, over-rated conductor in North America. James Levine doing Boston Symphony AND the Met AND his European guest-conducting didn’t make sense and this doesn’t make sense either.

        • Monsoon says:

          Levine’s cancelations only began after he fell at a BSO concert in 2006 and tore his rotator cuff. His physical health went downhill after that.

        • Kenny says:

          Sorry, no guest conducting during Munich 1999-2004 and BSO 2004-11. Didn’t happen.

        • Kenny says:

          I’ll give you a CSO Brahms program with Barenboim for their pension fund, and a Berlioz Requiem in Cincinnati for his mother’s 90th birthday, both in 2003. But that’s it.

      • Nick says:

        Because he is…..(well, how to put it nicely)……he is not so talented simply. The recognition and attention does not match the product’s worth.

  • Robin Mitchell-Boyask says:

    You’d think he’d have used the pandemic to slow down, breathe and study scores. But, no. I’m glad Norman has added the CO of E to the list of overcommitments, as YNS jets off there whenever he can.

    When he accepted the Met, YNS said he’d be cutting way back in Europe. Yeah. Right.

    As much as I appreciate his having raised the profile of the Philadelphia Orchestra after the lean years under Eschenbach (though he couldn’t have had success unless Dutoit had restored standards first), I for one would not be unhappy if, after the break, he decides to drop Philadelphia.

  • Gustavo says:

    It’s been a cushy number all along.

    I mean, all professions in music are cushy numbers as compared to the stress that environment, health, safety, transportation and resource supply services involve – especially in these malignant times against the backdrop of global climate change, rapid resource depletion and super-spreading mass migration.

    So lean back in your satin dressing gowns and wash away those funny little lockdown syndromes with long-lasting sips of musty Bordeaux and a nice piece of vinyl to go with it.

  • Couperin says:

    And he didn’t even conduct Porgy or Meistersinger! But “New York’s Conductor” needs a break huh? So overrated!

  • concerned opera buff says:

    Wonder if it’s a medical issue, like Covid.

  • bestest says:

    even gods get tired…….he should be the conductor of the world, the best ever ever ever….the world has never seen anything like him…Furtwangler eat your heart out.

  • Evan Tucker says:

    Yannick should not have been hired by the Met to begin with. They BADLY need at least one principal guest who is there a month or two every year. They should be on the phone with Noseda, Conlon, Luisi, Welser-Most, Chung, Runnicles, Adam Fischer, Andrew Davis, even Pappano and Gergiev. The Met is in trouble (or more trouble than usual…) and they can’t afford to misstep. One of the big names has got to step in and give them a month or two of order.

  • Tamino says:

    Going into rehab usually is not openly admitted in the classical world. Claiming that for a friend.

  • gulio says:

    I hope he will take a break for ever.
    What a fake artist.
    Cheap,artificial, vain.

  • gulio says:

    I hope he is staying away for ever.
    Cheap, narcissistic, flat.

  • MJA says:

    Just finished reading this thread as it stands and now need to take a shower to wash off all the malevolent bile. Ugh.

  • Staci says:

    Ummm I’m sorry, wasn’t the met just closed for a year and a half? Didn’t they just reopen? Didn’t all of the singers just take a pay cut? And this guys taking a four week paid vacation?
    Here, if there’s too much going on at once, may I suggest just… stepping down from the Met?
    This is shameful.

    • V.Lind says:

      Nowhere have I read that his break will be paid. For that matter, nowhere (else) have I read about exhaustion — what he said was “recharge his batteries,” which is a metaphor that can be interpreted a number of ways. Nowhere (else) have I read of “greybeards” (?) suggesting he take a break. In fact the information on this short break is very scant.

      But people sometimes opt to do this — take a short break — for reasons they do not share with the wide world, often, as I suggested above, to prevent longer ones later.

      This IS a nice guy, a very talented man (despite the peanut gallery here) and a hard-working one, with great musical gifts. He will be replaced by able and available people who will doubtless enjoy the opportunity, and will return for a stimulating series of events.

    • Kenny says:

      It’s not “a paid vacation.” He doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t conduct the performances. (Yes, he does get paid to rehearse Don Carlos.)

      Lighten up.

  • Physio says:

    Yannick Nézet-Séguin has a serious recurring injury which gets exacerbated by his excessive schedule. He has less experience of balancing voices with a pit band than most contenders for the Met gig, yet they gave him the gig.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Yannick should just drop The Met altogether. There simply isn’t enough ‘music’ in most operas to compensate for the ubiquitous drudgery of the theater, and the endless ‘cattiness’ of hard core opera mavens. Richard Strauss tried to convince Mahler of that reality (and as I recall, Strauss composed a number of great and well known operas himself). There’s no real thanks in it. To Yannick: keep Philly.

    • Ruby Yacht says:

      He could just retire on his wealth. I wouldn’t miss him a bit. He’s downgraded the Philadelphia Orchestra even further than Eschenbach.

  • Ruby Yacht says:

    As ever, he badly needs a wardrobe advisor. Even for his bathrobes. I’m surprised he is 46 already. Who is being groomed as his successor?