The Council of Ministers, at the proposal of the Minister of Education, Culture and Sport, Jose Ignacio Wert, granted today, 14th March, the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts posthumously to Gerard Mortier, Artistic Advisor of the Teatro Real until his death, last 8th March. This award, the highest one conceded by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports in the field of Fine Arts, distinguishes people and organizations who have excelled in the field of artistic and cultural creation, or who have rendered notable service in the promotion, development of art and culture, or of the conservation of artistic heritage. El Teatro Real greatly appreciates that the Gold Medal for Merit in the Fine Arts was given to Gerard Mortier, whose processing was proposed to the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports in recognition of the outstanding work he did as artistic director an artistic advisor of the Teatro Real from January 2010.
GERARD MORTIER | BIOGRAPHY
Gerard Mortier was born in Ghent in 1943. After taking classical studies with the Jesuits in his hometown, he finishes his studies with a degree in Information Studies and a doctorate on Law. His fascination by the opera, since his childhood, leads him to start a career within this world, getting his first job in 1968, as the assistant of the director of the Flanders Festival.
Between 1973 and 1979 he was the artistic administrator of the Düsseldorf (1972-1973), Hamburg (1973-77) and Frankfurt (1977-79) opera houses, along with Christoph von Dohnányi as music director. Later on, he worked as artistic advisor at the Paris Opera with Rolf Liebermann and Hugues Gall, before he would take the director position at the Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie in 1981, succeeding Maurice Huisman. Throughout his eleven years in front of the Brussels theatre, for which some of the most renowned composers and stage directors of the 21st century have created original operas, La Monnaie has become a reference within the contemporary music scene.
In 1991 he was put in charge of the direction of the Salzburg Festival with three essential aims: to make the programme evolve, to look for new audiences and to secure this institution into de 21st century. After ten years leading the famous Austrian festival, Mortier strengthened his prestigious position as artistic producer, by encouraging the creation of new scores, revitalizing the opera world through forward-looking readings and approaches with strong social content, political or conceptual, and conceiving the lyric theatre as a point of convergence of different ways of artistic expression such as painting, sculpture, installation art, video, literature, etc.
In 2001 Gerard Mortier takes a new challenge: to set up and run a festival in the Ruhr region, the RuhrTriennale (2002-2004), by turning old industrial spaces into a meeting place for vanguard artistic manifestations and stimulating both the discussion and the dialectic through proposals which went beyond the traditional music and opera world.
After his work in Germany, Mortier comes back to the Paris Opera, which already switched to the Bastille building as its new venue, a process in which he had actively worked since the beginning point. There, he takes the direction of the two Parisian opera theatres: Palais Garnier and the Bastille, between 2004 and 2009, updating and widening its audience with a diverse and creative programme.
GERARD MORTIER AT THE TEATRO REAL
In November 2008 Gerard Mortier takes the position of Artistic Director of the Teatro Real, a position that holds officially from January 2010 until September 2013, and through which he continues to be actively involved in the Teatro Real’s life every time his illness (diagnosed on May, 2013) would allow him to do so. Joan Matabosch succeeds him officially in the artistic direction of the Teatro Real in January of the current year, keeping for the next seasons the programme that Mortier had already fixed.
During the period Mortier of Mortier in the Teatro Real, 16 new productions have been performed at the venue’s stage (Lohengrin and Les contes d’Hoffmann will be presented in the current season), three worldwide premiered operas —La página en blanco, by Pilar Jurado, The Perfect American, by Philip Glass and Brokeback Mountain, by Charles Wuorinen— new shows such as C(h)oeurs, by Alain Patel and Lo Real, Le Réel, The Real, both conceived and performed by Israel Galván. In addition, three new plays have been commissioned to Spanish composers and will be premiered in the next seasons: El Público, by Mauricio Sotelo (based on the homonym play from García Lorca), La ciudad de las mentiras, by Elena Mendoza (from texts by Juan Carlos Onetti and El otro, by Alberto Posadas (based on Unamuno’s play).
He has presented to the media and to the audience all the new productions of the current season -Die Eroberung von Mexico, The Indian Queen and Brokeback Mountain- with the exception of the one that’s now on stage, Alceste, which he wasn’t able to see.
Gerard Mortier‘s last visit to Madrid was for the Brokeback Mountain premiere, last 28 of January. However he sent his own texts to be read at the press conferences of Alceste and for the next season, as a way of claiming his presence within the theatre’s life.
Next season programme of the Teatro Real, which combines both productions conceived by Gerard Mortier and those by Joan Matabosch, was greeted by Mortier as it follows, through a text that was read to the media by the Teatro Real’s President, Gregorio Marañón (we have extracted the fragments regarding the three operas that have been commissioned to Spanish composers):
“As Artistic Advisor of the Teatro Real, allow me to say some words at the beginning of the press conference for the presentation of season 2014/2015. First of all, I would like to wish Joan Matabosch all the best in his first season and to thank him for his great gentleman behavior during this season. I have already congratulated him for the designation of Ivor Bolton as the new Principal Music Director of the Teatro Real (…) I also want to thank him for keeping some of my reference projects as the worldwide premiere of El Público, by Mauricio Sotelo, about the text by García Lorca. I’ve always thought that this work was predestined to become an opera. This is a project we have been working on for four years. The second worldwide premiere will be La ciudad de las mentiras, by Elena Mendoza, from texts by Onetti, conducted by Titus Engel, with which I intended to continue with the opera in Spanish (…) Vive le Teatro Real! " The third opera commissioned by Gerard Mortier, El otro, by Alberto Posadas, based on the Unamuno’s play, will be presented in season 2016/2017.
Gerard Mortier‘s inestimable contribution to the art world was recognized with countless awards, prizes and medals throughout his career: Honorary Doctor by the University of Antwerp and the University of Salzburg, “Officer of the Order of Leopold”, “Knight of the Region of Honor, Commandeur of the Order of the Arts and Letters”, Baron title awarded by the King of Belgium and the “Golden Medal of the Círculo de Bellas Artes of Madrid”, amongst others.
Next 21st of May Gerard Mortier was going to be made Honorary Doctor by the University of Ghent. The same honorary acknowledgement would be given to him by the Royal Conservatoire of Antwerp. On the 31st of May he was going to be awarded the first honorary “Mortier Award” (a sculpture by Alexander Polzin) created by the German magazine Opernwelt and the International Contest Ring Award, where Michael Haneke would pronounce the encomium. Also the Opera magazine, from the United Kingdom, will concede him the Lifetime Achievement Award, next 4 th of April.
He died last 8 th of March, however, his projects will continue at the Teatro Real, honoring his memory.