Gustavo Dudamel will resign from the Paris Opera
Gustavo Dudamel, the superstar maestro, will step down as musical director of the Paris Opera in August, four years ahead of schedule and after just two seasons in the role, the company announced Thursday.
Dudamel, 42, who also directs the Los Angeles Philharmonic and will take over as musical and artistic director of the New York Philharmonic in 2026, said he is stepping down to spend more time with his family.
“It is with a heavy heart and after long consideration that I announce my resignation,” he said in a statement. “I have no other plan than to be with my loved ones, to whom I am deeply grateful for helping me to continue to be strong in my determination to grow and to stay stimulated, both personally and artistically. , each day.”
Dudamel’s two-year tenure will be one of the shortest in the Paris Opera’s recent history. His abrupt departure is unusual in the classical music industry, where conductors typically serve the length of their contracts and seasons are typically scheduled years in advance. His resignation comes months after he made the surprise announcement that he would leave his role in Los Angeles, which he had held since 2009, for New York when his contract expired at the end of the 2025-26 season. .
Alexander Neef, the general director of the Paris Opera, praised Dudamel, saying he had formed a “special relationship” with the musicians, singers and orchestra staff.
“I express my profound gratitude to him for the work done during his tenure, and I fully respect his decision,” Neef said in a statement.
The opera and Dudamel are still discussing what to do with his scheduled commitments for the 2023-24 season. He was to conduct a new production of “Lohengrin” by Wagner and the Paris premiere of “The Exterminating Angel” by Thomas Adès, as well as several concerts with the orchestra.
Dudamel’s departure creates the possibility that he could deepen his commitment to the New York Philharmonic sooner than expected. Due to scheduling conflicts, he hadn’t expected to be in New York much until the 2026-27 season. Dudamel, who led the orchestra in Mahler’s Ninth Symphony last week, has no commitments in New York next season.
Deborah Borda, president and CEO of the Philharmonic Orchestra, who helped launch Dudamel’s career in Los Angeles nearly two decades ago and persuaded him to take the job in New York, said she hoped that he could now spend more time with the orchestra from the next season but that nothing had been discussed.
“It’s very clear that he doesn’t want to make that decision now,” she said.
When Dudamel accepted the job in New York, some industry insiders speculated that he was looking to cut back on his trips to Paris. But Borda said Dudamel, who was born in Venezuela, realized during the pandemic that he wanted to spend more time in Spain, which is now home to his wife, 12-year-old son, parents and grandmother.
“No doubt he will take some criticism,” she said of her decision to quit. “But I think it’s a bold and important move.”
In Paris, Dudamel conducted prestigious productions of contemporary operas like John Adams’ “Nixon in China” and classics like Puccini’s “Turandot”. It seemed to be well regarded by the musicians of the orchestra and by Neef, although it occasionally received mixed reviews from European critics. A production of Wagner’s “Tristan und Isolde” he conducted earlier this year made headlines when its soprano was booed.
The opera also appears to be struggling with financial pressures. Planned appearances by the Paris Opera Orchestra in London and Vienna in April were abruptly cancelled. London’s Barbican Center said it was “due to factors which currently make touring financially difficult” for the ensemble.
His appointment in 2021, for a first term of six seasons, is considered a coup for the company, founded in 1669 under the name of Académie d’Opéra by Louis XIV. It was an unlikely union, given Dudamel’s busy schedule and frequent engagements in Los Angeles. And although he gained fame and accolades as a symphony conductor, he had less experience in opera.
Dudamel said at the time that he felt a chemistry with the Paris Opera after his company debut in 2017 with “La Bohème.”
“I felt that connection with the house, the musicians, the choir, with the whole team,” he said in an interview with The New York Times in 2021. “I had been here for a month and a half and I felt like I was home.”