Opera chief attacks general managers who try to be stage directors

Opera chief attacks general managers who try to be stage directors


norman lebrecht

July 01, 2021

The Italian Stefano Pace, who is taking over as head of the  Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège, has some sharp words for general managers who leave their desks for a spot of stage direction.

He tells a Belgian newspaper: ‘I don’t have this arrogance, this pretension. I like to debate the concept of a work with directors but, in the same way that an art gallery director will not exhibit his own paintings, I prefer to devote myself to the role of general manager.’

He goes on to deride directors whose ideas he can only understand ‘after reading 30 pages of comments’.

Read on here.



  • OperaPassion says:

    Clearly a shot at Oliver Mears, who has also decided to “open the season” with his own “directing”.

    • Dominic Stafford says:

      No, it’s not. Mears is the Opera Director (Artistic Director) at Covent Garden, not the General Director.

    • forza says:

      Or a shot at the previous director of the Liege Opera who made stagings of …dubious… quality.

  • Jonathan Sutherland says:

    Stefano Pace is absolutely right.
    The great Intendants of the past such as Sir Rudolf Bing, Sir David Webster, Egon Seefehlner or Antonio Ghiringhelli all knew exactly where their strengths lay – or didn’t.
    The idea of wearing two hats, both administrative autarch and creative kaiser, invariably leads to a mishap in millinery.
    If the General Manager is also the creative force behind a production, who is there to correct an aberration in concept or dramaturgy?
    There are already too many lamentable examples of artistic overreach by Intendants such as Andreas Homoki in Zürich, Jossi Wieler in Stuttgart, Katharina Wagner in Bayreuth and even Barrie Kosky in his Komische Oper Berlin days.
    An architect by training, Stefano Pace comes to l’ORW with an abundance of experience in the opera world both technical (eg. ROH Covent Garden) and administrative (eg. Teatro Lirico Giuseppe Verdi Trieste) – but sensibly none as a regisseur.
    With the highly talented Speranza Scappucci as Music Director, Directeur général Pace will ensure a starry future for the already highly acclaimed l’Opéra Royal de Wallonie-Liège.

  • Novagerio says:

    He never heard of Götz Friedrich or Harry Kupfer, or Joachim Herz and their master Walter Felsenstein.
    On the other hand, director/administrators of that old pedigree don’t exist anymore.

    • lest we forget August Everding

    • Jonathan Sutherland says:

      Friedrich, Kupfer, Herz and Felsenstein were established directors before they became administrators.
      Felsenstein actually created the Komische Oper Berlin as a vehicle for his ‘textual accuracy’ philosophy of music theatre.
      Wieler, Homoki et. al. were never in the same league as Felsenstein’s proteges – and even worse as administrators.

  • Paul Dawson says:

    He’s entitled to his opinion. He’s not entitled to lay down the law.

  • jan neckers says:

    Pace clearly referred to his predecessor: Stefano Mazzonis di Pralafera. Each season he reserved at least two new productions for himself. Some were very succesful, others less but when updating he never went against the music. Mazzonis very well knew what his Walloon public (and a lot of Flemings, Dutchmen and Germans) wanted. So he threw out Wagner and Strauss and concentrated on Italian and French opera. Each season he gave performances of an opera most of us never had seen and never will see again.Examples: Le domino noir, Jérusalem (not the Italian translation but the original French Verdi piece), Manon Lescaut (not by Puccini or Massenet). Last season he proposed Alzira; due to covid not performed. In the new season he prepared the revival of Mignon and an especially good idea: Suor Angelica and Mese Mariano by Giordano. Mazzonis ridiculed the pretentious humbug of his managerial colleagues at the Opera voor Vlaanderen and De Munt and his untimely death was very much regretted.