11 candidates named for the Paris Opéra

11 candidates named for the Paris Opéra


norman lebrecht

March 10, 2019

Le Figaro has obtained the long list of 10 men and  one woman being considered as next director-general of the Opéra national de Paris. They are:

Peter de Caluwe, La Monnaie (Brussels)

Joan Matabosch, Teatro Real (Madrid)
Jean-Louis Grinda, Opéra de Monte-Carlo
Christina Scheppelmann, Liceu (Barcelona)
Alexander Neef, COC (Toronto)
Laurent Joyeux, Dijon
Marc Minkowski, Opéra de Bordeaux
Olivier Mantei, Opéra Comique
Jean-Marie Blanchard, former Director of Théâtre de Genève
Dominique Meyer, outgoing director of Vienna Staatsoper
Christophe Ghristi, Théâtre du Capitole à Toulouse




  • Pierre says:

    Rest assured that whoever they take, the actual skills and talents of the person or their previous track record of success or failure will be of little importance in the decision making process. In France these sorts of appointments are nearly always entirely political and usually based upon non-managerial, non-artistic and non human relational qualities. Of course the individual needs to have some background in arts administration, but more important for the French deciders would be the candidate’s political contacts, the depth of their French political address book, their political sympathies, the fact that they went to the same school as one of the deciders, their being a Free Mason, their not being too obviously international and preferably not able to speak fluent English, adhering to the archaic French top-down management style, being a bit pretentious, aloof and arrogant and not showing any outwardly manifested passion for the arts or opera.
    I may be wrong, as there are some small signs that the sclerotic old-fashioned French system of management is changing in some respects. Recently Air France named a new President. A Canadian and a native English speaker! At the time of the nomination, as would be expected in France, Air France staff and unions rejected this man outright and even went so far as to say that it was a betrayal of France, the nation, to put an anglophone at the helm of the national airline. Unions threatened even more frequent strikes and everyone was set for confrontation, as is the norm in France. The result has turned out to be quite the opposite. By approaching the management of Air France in a modern, open and very un-French way, he is actually succeeding in turning around a company that was the epitome of the stupid confrontational French management style.
    So, there may be hope at the Paris Opéra. Sadly though, the Paris Opéra is 100% run by the French State, unlike Air France, where outside non-French shareholders and interests had their input.

    • Annabelle says:

      Very well said! It sadly is very much like that in France. As the years pass and the rest of the world advances, with the young generation elsewhere interacting more and more with each other, having curiosity for other cultures, methods and languages, traveling and learning and working in many different countries and cultures, the vast majority of France remains stuck in some sort of 18th-19th century mental time warp and they now look more and more ridiculous, disconnected and pathetically provincial.
      I think that the next General Director of the Paris Opera can only be a French person, as the sort of person qualified for this job from elsewhere would probably go out of their mind just dealing with the system and the far too often amateurish, unpleasant and provincial people there.

    • Ray Vilo says:

      Et bien sûr, un, ou mieux une, anglophone, bon teint, politiquement lisse et correct, satisferait votre anglophilie et votre esprit de caricature…Au fait, que venaient faire à Paris les Meyerbeer, Rossini, Verdi et autres Wagner pour diriger les théâtres ou créer leurs ouvrages, quand ils ne trouvaient rien d’autre ou désiraient s’emparer des fameux “hochets de la République” aux revers de leurs vestes ? La haine de soi ne vaut pas toujours amour de l’autre et la mesquinerie de votre propos en dit long sur l’image de la France, bien moins abimée que vous le pensez… Que la France ait à se réformer : oui, mais ni plus ni moins que d’autres pays et surtout pas pour adopter le modèle international dominant, finalement anglo-saxon protestant.

      • Giovanni from Italy says:

        Poor man! Here is a perfect example of all that is wrong with France. In 2019 Mr. Vilo is not able to express himself in English on an English language blog, so he just writes in French! He talks about Meyerbeer, Rossini, Verdi and Wagner coming to Paris in order to justify the appeal of Paris for artists. The problem is that these people lived over 150 years ago! He still is stuck in the battle for supremacy between England and France that took place in the 18th Century, talking about Anglo-Saxon rivalries, based on Catholics versus Protestants and anglophone global intentions of supremacy! Sir, we are now in the 21st Century and neither France nor England are world powers anymore. Religious doctrine is no longer the leading force in our world. The English understand that and have moved on, forging a new identity. The French simply don’t get it and are today a living wax museum of the mind.
        On what planet do these people live? Poor France!
        P.S. I am not an anglophone, but an educated person of the 21st Century who has learned and speaks four languages and knows that to succeed in this world and to communicate my ideas and thoughts I need to speak and write English and soon Chinese, which I am currently studying intensively. French, which I speak fluently, is a pretty language but absolutely of no importance anymore and it will become even less important in the future if France remains as it is.

        • Ray Vilo says:

          Raison de plus pour tenter de maintenir une langue qui tombe en désuétude, si je lis vos propos… Au fait, je suis agrégé d’anglais et enseigne dans une université d’Asie du Sud-Est. Attaquer l’emploi d’une langue pour une personne éduquée (je vous cite) du XXIe siècle permet d’éviter d’aborder le fond de la discussion et ne donne pas envie d’être de votre siècle… On ne pourrait donc avoir le droit de s’exprimer qu’en anglais ? Quant à la distinction protestant/catholique, elle fait partie de la culture générale minimum que vous vous empressez d’oublier pour nager dans les eaux du main stream : ça vous va comme ça ? Nous ne sommes pas tous les mêmes et que vous le vouliez ou non, une langue n’est pas qu’un obstacle à la pensée, ni à son évolution… Nomen numen…J’adore voir mon pays d’origine détesté et jalousé : rien n’en dit mieux l’importance que les attaques dont il est l’objet… Merci du fond du cœur.

  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    Dominique Meyer is about the same age as Lissner and Lissner is being booted out because of having reached the sell-by date. Meyer would be a good choice: if you can run Vienna, you can run Paris. People shouldn’t be so hard on the Paris Opera. The Bastille Opera is ugly, but has been successful by and large: usually a full house, goood programming, high quality singing and a great orchestra and choir.

    • tristan says:

      it’s a monster and one of the ugliest houses around, dangerous steps all over and very unfriendly to the older generation that frequentl attend performamces! Besides it has offered many terrible productions lately as Lissner was – like at La Scala – not a very successful Manager! That has to be said also.

  • The Original Anon says:

    Christina Scheppelmann would be a logical choice. She’s done a terrific job at Barcelona’s Liceu Opera – a big, high profile organization with quality productions and an international presence.

    Mysteriously, as I understand it, her contract there is up after the 2019/20 season. She is not renewing. She will be free and well qualified to take command in Paris.

    Joan Matabosch is also an outstanding candidate, but I seriously don’t think there’s any way they’ll let him go in Madrid. He follows Gerard Mortier heading the Teatro Real, and from all reports is doing a commendable job.

    • tristan says:

      sorry this is not true and at Liceo most are happy she is leaving! Puritani that opened last season was horrible and many other productions also. Matabosch is doing a brilliant job! He would be a good choice.

  • John Rook says:

    Does anyone know how this last weekend’s preseletion went?

  • John Rook says:


  • Sanity says:

    Every opera house in the world should be wanting Christina Scheppelmann at the moment; but the overwhelming likelihood is that this will be Alexander Neef or, if he doesn’t want to move his children in the middle of their schooling, Jean-Louis Grinda.