Venezuela’s acclaimed conductor Gustavo Dudamel on Thursday said he was stepping down from his role as musical director of the Paris Opera.
“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,” he said.
Dudamel, 42, signed on to lead the opera in 2021 for six years, telling AFP 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 in February announced that the Venezuelan maestro would become his music and artistic director for five years from 2026. Dudamel had, until very recently, held the same position at the Los Angeles Phil since 2009. But he has said that would end so he could take 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, the Latino conductor had performed there only once, directing Bohemian by Puccini in 2017.
Dudamel, the son of a trombonist and voice teacher, 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 music of Star Wars or Steven Spielberg’s version of “West Side Story.”
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In 2016, he conducted the Los Angeles Youth Orchestra in a collaboration with Coldplay during the Super Bowl’s half-time concert.