Wow, that happened quickly. On Thursday morning, 25 May 2023, Gustavo Dudamel revealed that he would leave his position as music director of the Paris Opera in July at the end of his second season.
Until recently, it was assumed that Dudamel would remain in Paris through the 2026–2027 season, the same year he would begin his tenure as the New York Philharmonic music director. The February announcement revealed the new appointment.
Gustavo Dudamel Will Leave Opéra National de Paris
Dudamel is currently in town to conduct the Los Angeles Philharmonic in the final two weeks of this season, and his unexpected departure from Paris is not expected to impact his position as music and artistic director of the orchestra. He will travel to this year’s Edinburgh International Festival as the conductor of the Venezuelan Simón Bolvar Orchestra.
“It is with a heavy heart, and after long consideration, that I announce my resignation as music director of the Paris Opera,” Dudamel writes in his official statement, “in order to spend more time with my family.”
DTC News tweeted about Gustavo Dudamel resign
Breaking News: The star maestro Gustavo Dudamel will resign from his post as music director of the Paris Opera in August, four years ahead of schedule and after just two seasons in the position.
— DTCNEWS (@DJAMNEWS) May 25, 2023
Finally, he says that he has “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.”
A new calendar for the 2023-24 season will be released soon, but neither Dudamel nor the Paris Opera has provided further details about his departure. This raises questions about the conductor’s ability to participate in two upcoming major Paris productions: Wagner’s “Lohengrin” and Thomas Adès’ “The Exterminating Angel.”
The news is all the more surprising given Dudamel’s positive reception in the French capital. Everyone from the general public to journalists to, most notably in France, politicians has shown their appreciation for his work. At the end of September, after a critically lauded performance of “Tosca,” President Emmanuel Macron, an opera regular, appointed Dudamel to the rank of officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters. The new “Nixon in China” production by John Adams, conducted by Dudamel, was a smashing success.
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A new age for opera and ballet began with Dudamel’s arrival in Paris. The Paris Opera Ballet, which Dudamel invited to the Hollywood Bowl last summer, was supposed to be a collaborator. Dudamel was supposed to conduct Adès’s “The Dante Project,” which featured choreography by Wayne McGregor, in April, but he backed out at the last minute. Courtney Lewis, music director of the Jacksonville Symphony in Florida and a former L.A. Phil Dudamel Fellow, stepped in at the last minute to take his place.
It’s not the first time a top executive from the Los Angeles Philharmonic has abruptly left the Paris Opera. A visionary Los Angeles manager, Ernest Fleischmann retired in 1965 to lead the soon-to-open Paris Opera. Fleischmann’s goal in collaborating with Pierre Boulez and Daniel Barenboim was to usher in a new era in opera.
Ten days later, after encountering political and economic roadblocks, Fleischmann applied for and was granted reinstatement to his previous position in Los Angeles. He then proceeded to alter the L.A completely. Instead, Phil built Walt Disney Concert Hall, hired Esa-Pekka Salonen, and played a role in discovering Dudamel as the chairman of a conducting competition in Germany.
Dudamel is coming back to a revamped Los Angeles Philharmonic. Last week, L.A. Philharmonic CEO Chad Smith announced his retirement to become president and chief executive of the Boston Symphony. The board has since announced that COO Daniel Song will assume Smith’s responsibilities. Dudamel, who lives in Madrid and Los Angeles, seemed to focus more on his European career after accepting the Paris position. It’s unclear how much will change. But now he’ll have more chances to do a Fleischmann if he wants to.
Final Lines: Gustavo Dudamel’s time as the Paris Opera music director ends suddenly. Many in the music industry were taken aback, wondering what prompted his departure. Instead of continuing for several more years, a chapter ends suddenly, leaving behind a brilliant and innovative artistic legacy.