By David Patrick Stearns
FOR THE INQUIRER
The time in Osaka was 11 p.m. Thursday as Yannick Nézet-Séguin faced a live video interview to announce his Metropolitan Opera appointment to a still-waking-up United States. On the Philadelphia Orchestra's current tour of the Far East, he had an early concert time - 7 p.m. - but a substantial program anchored by the Brahms Symphony No. 2. No wonder he sounded more weary than ecstatic when he said, at 10 a.m. East Coast time, "I can't recall a day in my life when I've been more joyful."
Streamed on the Metropolitan Opera website (www.metopera.org), the video included board members, key orchestra players, and Met general manager Peter Gelb on the New York side, welcoming him as unreservedly as one could expect in such dignified terrains. With limited screen time, Nézet-Séguin telegraphed his sentiments with words like "a dream come true," though specifying the genuine advantage of working with one of the world's best opera orchestras as well as "the unbelievable chorus and best principal singers on the planet."
"I'm looking forward to starting as of now, to put all of my passion ... in my mission to keep the highest standards in the world," he said (he actually assumes the title of music director designate in the fall of 2017). "I have many ideas ... "
Both he and Gelb spoke of meeting this fall, but as others on the Met side pointed out, he's no stranger to the place, having made his debut in 2009 in a new production of Carmen. Nézet-Séguin also spoke of longtime music director James Levine (now an emeritus) with great reverence: "I have been in touch with our great James Levine. I thanked him personally and will be glad that he will still be with us. I think that makes a very good partnership for years to come."