Alexander Neef: Too timid for Paris?

Alexander Neef: Too timid for Paris?


norman lebrecht

February 11, 2022

The newspaper Le Figaro has lashed out at reforms promised by the Paris Opéra chief, calling them ‘very timid’.

Neef, arriving from Canadian Opera, inherited an institution that his predecessor admitted was ‘on its knees’.

Since Covid, it has lost a further 185 million Euros.

The workforce is frequently revolting. Cancellations are a weekly occurrence.

Neef says: ‘ I am not reforming, I am leading an evolution to create a more responsible, more credible, more sustainable house.’

He promises  to balance the budget by 2024-25. He says some retiring staff will not be replace and newcomers will be paid less than old. He is about to tackle a renegotiation of collective agreements.

Doesn’t sound timid to us.


  • John Borstlap says:

    It rather looks like German thoroughness. But that is, of course, lacking theatralics.

  • Anthony Sayer says:

    It must be nigh-on impossible to run that house.

  • john says:

    He is simply not qualified enough.
    I know what i’m speaking about after many mediocre years in Canada.
    Everyone is still in “Party Modus”because he left.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Anyone who brings Enescu’s Oedipe back to Paris Opera has earned my respect.

      And why did it have to be a German manager who did that, and with a German conductor? Is it because Oedipe is more played in Germany than in France?

      • Anthony Sayer says:

        Nicolas Joel did it in Toulouse before he even went to Paris.

        • Don Ciccio says:

          And that was the only production of a French company since the premiere in 1936; OK, since the 1937 revival. There was also the Romanian opera on tour at Palais Garnier and the stray concert versions, but that’s about it. France will never accept that the greatest French-language opera between Ariane et Barbe-bleue and Dialogues des Carmélites (leaving aside the one act operas by Ravel) was written by a Romanian, albeit one whose final rest place is Père Lachaise. If there is any compensation, and there isn’t, neither are Cherubini and Meyerbeer better treated by the french.

          On ther other hand, in Germany Oedipe was produced by companies in Saarbrücken, Weimar, Berlin (both at Deutsche Oper and at Komische Oper), Kassel, Bielefeld, Frankfurt (directed by Hans Neuenfels!), Gera, and I am missing one or two. Not a lot, but a great deal more than in France. And there was also the Romanian opera tour at Staatsoper Unter den Linden, so all three major Berlin stages have hosted Oedipe.

          Going further in German speaking lands, lets’ not forget the major production in Austria, at the Vienna State Opera and at the Salzburg Festival. There was also another production in Vienna, by a smaller company whose name escapes under conductor Andreas Mitisek.

          And in Switzerland, the only time Oedipe was heard, was also in the German speaking section, more precisely at the Lucerne Festival in 1981.

          To be fail, Nicolas Joel did want to bring Oedipe at the Paris Opera, but he resigned before being able to complete the project. It would have been the same La Fura dels Baus production seen in London, Bruxelles, Buenos Aires, Amserdam… And, staying in the French speaking world, I should also mention the two stagings at La Monnaie, in 1956 and 2011.

  • V.Lind says:

    I see at least three triggers for strike action in his plans — not that the French seem to need any triggers to strike. Their national motto should read Liberté, Équalité, Fraternité, Entêtement…

  • Byrwec Ellison says:

    Do you mean, ‘the workforce is frequently rebelling’? To say they’re ‘frequently revolting’ makes it sounds like they’re often in a foul mood.