By MIKE SILVERMAN
NEW YORK (AP) — “Now I will conduct a short excerpt from Ravel’s ‘Bolero,’” the Metropolitan Opera’s future music director announces proudly.
It’s Yannick Nezet-Seguin, but he’s not the figure familiar to opera lovers on the podium of one of the world’s great concert halls. Instead, he’s a fourth-grader addressing the talent show at Saint-Isaac-Jogues primary school in Montreal.
And then, in Susan Froemke’s new documentary, “Yannick: An Artist’s Journey,” the 10-year-old boy launches into an exuberant exhibition of arm-waving to a recording of Ravel’s ferocious masterwork.
The scene is among the many amateur video moments that help chart the development of one of the most gifted conductors to emerge on the classical music scene in years. And Froemke has smartly paired this early moment with a snippet of the mature Nezet-Seguin leading the Met orchestra in the same piece.
“What’s amazing to me,” she said in an interview, “is if you look at the way he’s moving his arms as a child, it’s almost exactly the way he does it today.”
Those arms are key to his style of conducting, learned from his idol, maestro Carlo Maria Giulini, with whom he spent a year in Italy in his 20s.
“He was always saying that the clarity of the conductor comes from the clarity of the thought, and if your thought is clear, then the gesture will be clear,” Nezet-Seguin recalls of Giulini in the film. “You need to imagine that the sound is between your torso and your hands and you’re sort of holding the sound.”