Today, The Paris Opera and its General Manager Alexander Neef confirmed rumours that Gustavo Dudamel will become the Music Director for six seasons from 1 August 2021.
I am extremely happy that Gustavo Dudamel has accepted my invitation to join the Paris Opera as Music Director. He is one of the world's most talented and prestigious conductors.
I was drawn from the outset to this exceptional conductor who has been fascinated by the world of opera since his early childhood and has conducted numerous operatic works with such musical insight. Over the past ten years, I have had the good fortune to hear him in the Mozart/Da Ponte trilogy at the helm of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, as well as in works by John Adams and more recently in Verdi's Otello at the Metropolitan Opera in New York and at the Liceu in Barcelona. I was won over by his conducting, as were his audiences. In the course of our numerous exchanges, I realised the extent to which he was the one who could share and transmit his love of opera to the widest possible audience.
Dudamel was born in 1981 in Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He graduated from the Venezuelan educational programme El Sistema and at the age of 18, he was appointed Music Director of the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela. In 2004, he won the first Gustav Mahler Conductors' Competition initiated by the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, and his career took off internationally. From 2007 to 2012 he was the Music Director of the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra. Since 2009, Gustavo Dudamel has been Music and Artistic Director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
His appointment reflects our determination to reach out and commit ourselves to an ambitious project that will continue to enhance the reputation of our institution through opera and ballet productions, along with symphony concerts not only in our theatres but elsewhere, in a repertoire ranging from classical to contemporary. His proven commitment to artistic and educational projects and his conviction that culture should be accessible to all will provide new momentum and accompany us in our mission.
Dudamel has recorded many albums and DVDs, winning three Grammy Awards, most recently this year in the Best Classical Orchestral Performance category for his recording of the complete symphonies of Charles Ives. In 2009, he was named Chevalier in the French Order of Arts and Letters, and in 2019, he was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, joining Leonard Bernstein, Duke Ellington and Arturo Toscanini.
From the first downbeat, my experience with the artists of the Paris Opera was simply magnificent. The immediate sensation at that decisive encounter – feelings of trust, connection, musicality, and a shared vision – were born from this first meeting in 2017. The exceptional level of the musicians of the Orchestra and the artists of the Chorus and the strong bond that we were able to weave together during the rehearsals and the performances of La Bohème are what made me accept Alexander Neef's proposal.
The orchestra is a microcosm for society, with many people playing different parts towards one common creative goal. The opera is an entire universe unto itself, containing the full multitude of what the human spirit is capable of creating. Alongside my continued commitment to the Los Angeles Philharmonic and to the beloved musicians of El Sistema in Venezuela and around the world, I want to devote, for at least the next six seasons, all my energy toward creating extraordinary musical moments for our audiences, and to make the Paris Opera ever more connected to the soul of the city and country that surrounds it.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.