Montreal’s dynamic maestro Nezet-Seguin prepares debut as Met music director

MONTREAL — With leading roles in three major orchestras, Yannick Nezet-Seguin has a schedule to rival that of the busiest statesman.

He has been music director of Montreal’s Orchestre Metropolitain since 2000. He took on the same role with the Philadelphia Orchestra in 2012. Then last September he added music director of the prestigious Metropolitan Opera of New York to the list.

Next Tuesday he will make his debut in his newest role.

“I realized pretty long ago that I have energy levels a little above the average … but I have no miracle secret,” Nezet-Seguin said recently when asked how he juggles all his responsibilities.

His agenda is filled with rehearsals, meetings and planning sessions — spread between three cities and two countries.

In a phone interview with The Canadian Press, the Montreal native said it requires a lot of self-discipline to stay on top of things. He enjoys good food and drink, but he has learned to avoid excess. He is early to bed, early to rise. He exercises regularly and watches his diet.

And then there is the little “miracle secret” that he does not seem to realize he possesses: the joy of pursuing a craft he is passionate about.

“I really like transmitting, through my energy, this joy that becomes contagious, that gives energy to everyone to do the work that we have to do,” Nezet-Seguin said.

He finds it easier to be geographically concentrated between Montreal, New York and Philadelphia rather than travelling the world as a guest conductor.

“I can concentrate more on a single work,” he says.

Right now, that work is Verdi’s “La Traviata”, which he will premiere at the Met Dec. 4.

When he arrived as music director, he had to adapt the famous opera — one of the most frequently performed in the world — to give it his own style. It was a difficult but captivating process.

“That is what we are always doing, taking works that were written a long time ago and trying to go back to the score, back to the original text and try to dust off the accumulated traditions,” he said. “That doesn’t mean throwing the traditions overboard but taking the time to re-examine them.”

Some musicians who have been with the orchestra for decades have performed “La Traviata” so often that they know it by heart, which means revisiting the score is particularly interesting for them.

“It’s a chance to break with routine, to stop playing on autopilot,” Nezet-Seguin said.

The maestro will be back home in Montreal Dec. 21 for a concert with the Orchestre Metropolitain. On Dec. 15, a live performance of his ”La Traviata” for the Metropolitan Opera will be shown in Cineplex theatres in Canada.

He calls it an”absolute priority” to maintain contact with his Canadian audience.

“I am Canadian. It’s great to have important positions in the United States, which leads me to adopt certain aspects of American culture, but I remain a Montrealer,” he says.

“That is where I live, that is where my cats live, that is where I continue to work, and that is where my partner works. When I’m not working, I come to Montreal on weekends. So it is very important.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

From masks to cohorting, a guide to back-to-school rules across the country

Plans are being made across the country for how to safely send… Continue reading

Red Deer asking for feedback on new transit routes

The new routes will begin Aug. 23

Red Deer region unemployment hits 14% in July

Unemployment in Red Deer region nearly double July 2019 rate of 7.4%

Statistics Canada says country gained 419,000 jobs in July

OTTAWA — Canada’s labour market gained 419,000 jobs last month as more… Continue reading

1 in 7 Albertans have been tested for COVID-19

56 additional cases Thursday, 1,107 active cases remain in the province

Protestors for Indigenous Lives Matter gather in Wetaskiwin

Protestors gathered along 56 St Wetaskiwin, Alta. August 4, 2020 for Indigenous Lives Matter.

You have nothing to fear from central EMS dispatching

My name is Brad Higgins. I am reaching out with respect to… Continue reading

Maskwacis teen charged in 10-year-old boy’s death

The RCMP Major Crimes Unit have laid a manslaughter charge against a 14-year-old boy from Maskwacis.

‘Caught up in the frenzy:’ Oilers 50/50 draw breaking ticket sale records

Previous record was held by Toronto Raptors fans when a 50/50 raffle reached $2 million

Expanded rail service would put Alberta’s economy on the fast track

To empower our communities, unite our province, and grow our economy, Alberta… Continue reading

Alberta jury trials to resume next month at offsite locations due to COVID-19

About 12 locations across Alberta may host the trials in halls, hotels and community centres

Alberta school curriculum to focus on basics, keep out political bias: minister

NDP education critic says the kindergarten to Grade 4 changes should have been implemented a year ago

Walmart to make face masks mandatory for customers across Canada

Requirement goes into effect on Wednesday, Aug. 12 across Canada

Oilers 50/50 draw prepared for more fan frenzy for Game 4 against Blackhawks

EDMONTON — Frenzy over the Edmonton Oilers online 50/50 draw may continue… Continue reading

Most Read