Sudden death of Belgium opera chief

Sudden death of Belgium opera chief


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2021

The Royal Opera of Liège has announced the death of Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, its artistic director since 2007.

He was 71 years old and was due to step down in the summer of 2022.

A former sovrintendente of the Teatro Comunale of Bologna, Stefano raised the profile of Liège to international status and was made an honorary citizen of the town.

He directed operas in several other houses, including six in the past decade at the Israeli Opera.

Music director Speranza Scappucci writes:
They say no one dies on earth as long as there is someone who remembers him fondly. How can I forget you, Stefano, Friend before General Director and workmate, since our first meeting.
You were first and foremost a man of great competence in your work, not only as superintendent, but also as a director, a man of fine culture of great humanity, sensitive and versatile.
Let’s not forget your elegance in dressing, speaking; your positivity searching and always finding the positive side of reality and situations; your subtle irony, providential in many complicated, difficult times. You knocked on the dressing room door :”Speranza facci sognare….Hope, let us dream!”, you said, according to Flaiano’s motto ′′The situation is serious but it’s not serious ′′ You were always there waiting in the scenes, you were in my everyday life and also In these long months of waiting for ours to reopen, your theater we spoke, discussed and dreamed together on the day of the day of the
I hug again…
Generous man, true artist in soul, you had a word always for everyone. I know you’ll watch over me because you believed in me and I’ll carry on with all of myself your ideals, everything you were and gave passion for Music, Culture and Theatre. Live with us.
This is how we will always carry you in our heart, because those who die leave, it’s not to leave us alone, but to always be with us.

The Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège has issued this statement:

En qualité de Président du Conseil d’administration de l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège, j’ai la profonde douleur de vous annoncer le décès, survenu ce dimanche 7 février 2021, de Monsieur Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera, Directeur général et artistique depuis 2007.

Je tiens à présenter à son épouse, sa famille, ses proches et à tout le personnel de l’ORW mes condoléances sincères et émues .

Sous la houlette de Stefano Mazzonis, l’Opera Royal de Wallonie a connu un développement sans précédent sur le triple plan de la qualité artistique, de sa renommée internationale et de l’adhésion du public .

Afin de faire face à cette disparition soudaine, je réunirai au plus vite les instances de l’ORW et le personnel.

Je tiens à remercier infiniment Stefano Mazzonis de son engagement indéfectible en faveur de l’Opera Royal de Wallonie, des artistes et de la culture.

Le monde artistique de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles perd un de ses plus brillants serviteurs, Liège pleure un de ses grands formats.

Stefano Mazzonis a été fait Citoyen d’honneur de la Ville il y a quelques années déjà pour l’excellence du travail accompli. ».

Willy Demeyer
Président du Conseil d’Administration


  • fred says:

    cause of death? An agressive cancer. He will be sorely missed, the last bastion against the eurotrash crowd…

  • batonbaton says:

    Having seen and reviewed a few productions there over the past decade, I can attest to the rising standards in Liege – he was obviously doing something right and will be much missed locally and further afield. RIP

  • April says:

    The opera’s statement is very true, Opera Liege has brilliant singers, productions etc.!

  • Libor says:

    What beautiful words of Music director Maestro Speranza Scappucci honoring a human life. I am deeply touched.

  • Forza says:

    He was a great director who managed to bring the Liège Opera out a large deficit, maintain a strong quasi-100% occupancy rate, bring the opera to youth (both with productions for children as well as v-e-r-y advantageous ticket prices) and consistently groom younger local talent for an international career both for soloists (Jodie Devos, Anne Catherine Gilet, Maxime Melnik), as well as in the orchestra and chorus. His never-ending optimism was truly inspiring, especially during these cruel and harsh past few months.

    He gave considerable space to “classical” stagings (as opposed to avant-garde), while still keeping an eye out for beautiful modern settings (Stefano Poda’s Faust and Aurélien Bory’s Orphée et Eurydice stand out).

    Let’s see what the future brings for Liège – best of luck to them.

  • Gabriele says:

    so said!!!

  • zvi says:

    Perhaps he raised the standards in Liege, but the 3 productions I saw at the Israeli Opera (Nabucco, Otello, Boheme) were utter trash. I give him some credit for La Boheme for some fine ideas executed in total lack of sense of timing.

  • CJ says:

    It is such a pity, he will be deeply regretted.
    His productions in Liège were so good that the public was coming from Brussels (!), the Netherlands and Germany.
    Beautiful text indeed from the conductor Speranza Scapucci (who, by the way, is also greatly appreciated).
    Deepest sympathies to Mr Mazzonis di Pralafera’s family.