Neef pointed out that Yannick Nézet-Séguin, 46, the Met’s music director since 2018, did not start there with an enormous repertory, either. “The question is not about quantity,” Neef said. “And these things are a little bit deceptive: When you look at the list of operas Gustavo has conducted, it’s from Mozart to John Adams. He’s been conducting opera as long as he’s been conducting symphonic music.”
Asked which works he is most looking forward to tackling, Dudamel replied, “Everything.” In Paris this fall he is scheduled to conduct Puccini’s “Turandot” and Mozart’s “Le Nozze di Figaro.” In addition to mainstream repertory, he said he hoped to work with living composers from Europe as well as North and South America, including Adams, Thomas Adès and Gabriela Ortiz.
He added that he is keen to conduct the Paris Opera Ballet, the company’s in-house dance company. Dudamel said his mentor, José Antonio Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, often took him to the ballet to learn about conducting.
“It was part of my education,” he said. “Even for my way of seeing the music.”
His appointment will involve significant travel between Paris and Los Angeles, but his commitment to the Philharmonic is one Dudamel said he has no intention of curtailing. “I will share my time between the two families,” he said. What he will cut back on is guest conducting, a process he said he started a few years ago in order to shift his focus to longer-term projects.
“The way we’re going to organize it is the way he works in L.A., too,” Neef said. “Long periods that hang together, rather than a lot of travel.”
Neef added that Dudamel would be a charismatic and visible link between the company’s main stage productions and its educational endeavors. In Los Angeles, Dudamel has contributed to the Philharmonic’s robust educational outreach, especially the Youth Orchestra Los Angeles, a program inspired by El Sistema that was founded in 2007.