Breaking: French Cabinet confirms next Paris Opéra director

Breaking: French Cabinet confirms next Paris Opéra director


norman lebrecht

July 24, 2019

The Macron Caninet, meeting this morning, approved Alexander Neef as the next chief of the Opéra.

Here’s a statement from his present employer, the Canadian Opera Company:

Today, Canadian Opera Company General Director Alexander Neef was named the next General Director of Opéra national de Paris. The official announcement was made in Paris at a meeting of the French Cabinet. Neef’s term will begin in the 2021/2022 season, succeeding Stéphane Lissner as current head of Opéra national de Paris; until then, the COC General Director will remain in Toronto, guiding the company through to the close of its 2020/2021 season.

“The Canadian Opera Company has been my home for more than a decade and I am humbled and honoured by the welcome and support that I have received throughout my time here,” says COC General Director and Opéra national de Paris General Director Designate Alexander Neef. “The personal connections that have taken root in this city and in this country will certainly endure, regardless of where I find myself in the world.”

“Canada is rich with artistic talent and I could not have asked for a better place in which to create, to innovate, and to collaborate in the true spirit of opera as an art form,” continues Neef. “The COC’s exceptional reputation on the world stage is a testament to the dedicated people across all levels of the organization; their hard work is our company’s signature. I am proud to see Toronto considered synonymous with the world’s best opera and will always champion the COC’s contributions to opera and the excellence of Canadian artists.”

Paris holds particular significance for Neef who began his career at the city’s renowned international opera house as head of casting, alongside former general director Gerard Mortier. “To be able to return to Opéra national de Paris at this point in my life and career feels especially poignant,” says Neef. “As one of the oldest and most distinguished opera houses in the world, I am inspired by the challenge of preserving the company’s rich history and tradition while seeing it continually adapt and evolve in a fast-changing arts and culture landscape. This is certainly an extraordinary opportunity that bears an enormous responsibility for which I feel immense gratitude.”

“The Canadian Opera Company congratulates Mr. Alexander Neef on his appointment as General Director of Opéra national de Paris,” says Canadian Opera Company Board Chair Justin Linden. “Mr. Neef’s selection is a testament to his hard work, dedication, and achievements throughout his career – particularly here in Canada.  We the board, the staff, the artists, and the supporters of Canadian opera, strongly support his appointment and look forward to his future achievements.”


UPDATE: Neef told the NY Times Mr. Neef that Macron interviewed him for 45 minutes for the post, which is a presidential appointment.“For someone who is running a country, I found it incredible he took so much time,” he said.


  • Straussian says:

    Sorry to see him go. I hope he will help the Board to find a suitable replacement. Since his contract with the COC was renewed for several more seasons (until 2025?), there is a certain moral obligation to help the Company find a suitable replacement. At least I hope so. I do wish him well at the Paris Opera.

  • sycorax says:

    Oh my – the prototyp of a smartie; as shallow as an easter egg and as slippery as an eel …
    In former times principals in opera houses were characters …

  • John Rook says:

    “Macron interviewed him for 45 minutes for the post, which is a presidential appointment.“

    Above all, it’s a political appointment: Sarkozy = Nicolas Joel; Hollande: Joel out, Lissner in; Macron someone else. Even France can’t always hide behind its compulsory retirement laws.

  • Clarrieu says:

    I especially like “The Macron Caninet, meeting this morning…” What’s exactly a “Caninet”, a Board of dogs, or something like that?