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Gustavo Dudamel to Depart Paris Opéra After Two Seasons as Music Director

GUSTAVO DUDAMEL, who in 2021 was appointed music director at the Paris Opéra, announced today that he intends to resign from his position with that company in August, only two years into what was to have been a six-year tenure.

The announcement, severing a professional association between one of the biggest stars in classical music and one of the most important opera houses in Europe, shocked the classical music world and led to speculation as to Dudamel’s next move. His abbreviated two-year term will stand as one of the shortest by any music director in the company’s history, though it comes on the heels of a February announcement that Dudamel would become the next music and artistic director of the New York Philharmonic, beginning with that ensemble’s 2026-27 season. In 2026, Dudamel plans to depart his post as music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, which he has led since 2009.

In a statement issued today, Dudamel said that he was departing to spend time with his family. Speaking to the New York Times, New York Philharmonic president and chief executive Deborah Borda, who brokered Dudamel’s New York Philharmonic post and, who first brought him to Los Angeles in 2009, said that the pandemic had prompted Dudamel to spend more time in Spain, where his wife, son, parents and grandmother now reside.

“It is with a heavy heart and after long consideration that I announce my resignation,” Dudamel said in a statement released to the press. “I have no plans other than to be with my loved ones, to whom I am deeply grateful for helping me to continue to be strong in my resolve to grow and remain challenged, both personally and artistically, each and every day.”

Alexander Neef, the Paris Opéra’s general director, told the Times that Dudamel had recently expressed reservations about being able to carry out his duties at the house in light of the substantial rehearsal and performance demands. ”In the end, he reached a conclusion that he could just not give to the institution what he believes the institution requires,” Neef told the Times.

During the 2022-23 Paris Opéra season, Dudamel has conducted staged performances that include Tosca, Tristan und Isolde, Nixon in China and The Dante Project, a new ballet by Thomas Adès that was choreographed by Wayne McGregor. He has also led concert performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 9 at the Paris Philharmonie, as well as on tour at Barcelona’s Teatre del Liceu, and Geneva’s Victoria Hall. Last month, he conducted concerts featuring music by Messiaen, Haydn, Ravel and Strauss at the Paris Philharmonie, the Musikverein in Vienna and London’s Barbican Centre. Next season, Dudamel had been scheduled to conduct Paris Opéra performances of a new production of Lohengrin (September 2024), and was also slated to lead performances of Thomas Adès’s The Exterminating Angel (February and March, 2024). A statement issued by the company said that it planned to announce more details about those scheduled performances at a later date. 

More information can be found at the Opéra National de Paris and Gustavo Dudamel’s official website.