In memoriam Gerard Mortier

The Former Arthistic Director of Teatro Real of Madrid, Gerard Mortier has passed away.
Born in Belgium whose father was a baker, was educated at the Jesuits; education that deeply marked his personality, making him an educated person, an intellectual of strong ideas and little friend of dialogue and influence. Always was very educated, friend of friends, loving and generous.
As Arthistic Director began his career in the theatre La Monnai of Brussels where collected his major successes. From there he went on to manage the Salzburg Festival, where he acted as an “elephant in a porcelain-shop”. He dispensed of the great singers and began his «revolutionary» path with highly offensive statements toward singers and audience, which caused him some lawsuit –like the one of José Carreras – and the disappearance of all the Festival most important fans. In his merit is introducing a younger audience but failed to retain. His most important success in the Austrian City was undoubtedly the production of Peter Sellars Sant François d´Assiese of Messiaen, perhaps one of his favourite operas that came to produce during his career in three different times. His farewell from Salzburg was certainly noisy with a really offensive and distorted production of The Bat of Strauss..
From there he went on to manage the Ruhr Festival, deeply elitist, one of the most snobs. And immediately, he marched to Paris, to head the two Opera theatres, the Bastille and Palais Garnier. He carried out important works of great success against other regrettable that also ended up moving the faithful public away although he attracted younger viewers. At the end of this stage, the debt was important.
He was called from New York to take on the City Opera but his initial proposals did not like neither his budget, so they did not sign with him. He tried then to arrive at the Liceo de Barcelona, which also did not flourished to finish in the Teatro Real of Madrid by the grace of the President of the Teatro Real Foundation, Gregorio Marañón and its courtly Councillor.
In Madrid was received with open arms even knowing his programming style, but already in the first press conference he said that Spanish singers didn’t know how to sing and blended styles. This provoked the first scandal of the many incurred during his stay in Madrid, insulting to the public and institutions, political leaders until his departure as Artistic Director is decided with what he even threated the Ministry of Culture if he is not allowed to decide the name of his successor. All ended well as he stayed as counsellor of his successor Joan Matabosch, including also a salary.
In Madrid he has had important successes as Lady Macbeth, La clemenza de Tito or Cosí fan tutte, but above all for its extraordinary mediatic capacity which resulted on that in all the opera world the Teatro Real was mentioned, but the reality is that it was only shortly. Madrid remains an island so far.
Mortier has been a primarily theatre and spectacle person provocative in his mood of politicizing the opera and raise awareness of various issues; He also knew the music but the voices were something strange to him, as well as the musical conductors, choosing people in both cases from his environment. Very important his work with the Teatro Real Choir, turned it into his main positive legacy.
He assumed his outcome in a very conscientious and courageous way, being a true example in this regard. Rest in peace.
Francisco García-Rosado