Star conductor Dudamel resigns from Paris Opera
Venezuela's acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel said in a surprise announcement Thursday that he was stepping down from his role as musical director of the Paris Opera, four years before his contract was due to expire.
"It is with a heavy heart, and after much thought, that I announce my resignation from the post of musical director of the Paris Opera in order to spend more time with my family," Dudamel said.
Dudamel, 42, signed on to lead the opera in 2021 for six years, telling AFP that he wanted to break down the walls of the fabled institution in search of new audiences.
"We live in a time that, I believe, has profoundly and intimately shaken our beings," he said. "I have no other projects than to be with my family members."
The New York Philharmonic announced in February that the Venezuelan maestro would become its music and artistic director for five years starting in 2026.
Dudamel has held the same position at the Los Angeles Philharmonic since 2009, but he has said he will step down from that post when he takes on the New York job.
He has also been artistic director of the Simon Bolivar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela.
Alexander Neef, director general of the Paris Opera, thanked the conductor, saying his "passion and immense talent have greatly contributed to the opera's repertoire".
"Dudamel is a tremendous musician. I am deeply grateful for the work he accomplished during his tenure and fully respect his decision," he added.
Before becoming musical director of the Paris Opera, Dudamel had performed there only once, directing La Boheme by Puccini in 2017.
The son of a trombonist and voice teacher, Dudamel is a product of Venezuela's state-run musical education program known as "El Sistema."
Considered one of the most talented conductors in the world, critics say Dudamel is as comfortable conducting a Mahler symphony as he is the music of Star Wars.
In 2016, he conducted the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra in a collaboration with the rock group Coldplay during the Super Bowl's half-time concert.