The Paris Opera in the 21st century

HistoryThe Paris Opera in the 21st century

History : The Paris Opera in the 21st century

Gerard Mortier (2004 – 2009)

After the nine years that Hugues Gall spent at the Paris Opera’s direction, Gerard Mortier, former director of La Monnaie in Brussels, the Salzburg Festival and the Ruhrtriennale Festival, took over as director. His non-conformist artistic choices often caused controversies but contributed to the evolution of public taste.

He worked with many directors including Michael Haneke, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Christoph Marthaler or La Fura dels Baus, visual artists such as Bill Viola (Tristan und Isolde) and Anselm Kiefer, and with composers Kaija Saariaho and Philippe Boesmans. His leadership was marked by the programming of rarely staged pieces: Paul Hindemith’s Cardillac, Gustave Charpentier’s Louise, and The Makropulos Affair and From the House of the Dead, both by Leoš Janáček.

The Ballet’s repertoire was also enriched with many creations: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Angelin Preljocaj), Caligula (Nicolas Le Riche), Véronique Doisneau (Jérôme Bel), L’Envol d’Icare (Thierry Malandain), Amoveo (Benjamin Millepied), Genus (Wayne McGregor), Les Enfants du paradis (José Martinez), Orphée et Eurydice (Pina Bausch), O złożony, O composite (Trisha Brown)… Appointed Director of the New York City Opera in 2007, Gerard Mortier eventually declined the offer before taking up his post in 2009, to take over the direction of the Teatro Real in Madrid, which he led until 2013.

Tristan und Isolde

by Richard Wagner

Opera - production by Peter Sellars, video by Bill Viola.

Orphée et Eurydice

by Pina Bausch

Contemporary ballet

O złożony, O composite

by Trisha Brown

Contemporary ballet

Nicolas Joel (2009 – 2014)

Nicolas Joel became director of the Paris Opera in 2009. Among the great pieces of the repertoire, a special place was made during his tenure to the contemporary creation with operas such as Bruno Mantovani’s Akhmatova and Philippe Fénelon’s La Cerisaie (stage version creation), and ballets like Jean-Guillaume Bart’s La Source, Alexeï Ratmansky’s Psyché, Wayne McGregor’s L’Anatomie de la sensation and Preljocaj’s Siddharta.

Many works entered the repertoire during his years as director: Die tote Stadt (Korngold), Mathis der Maler (Hindemith), Francesca de Rimini (Zandonai), Kaguyahime (Kylian). New productions of Aida and the Ring were also programmed, respectively directed by Olivier Py and Gunter Krämer.


by Bruno Mantovani


La Source

by Jean-Guillaume Bart



by Verdi

Opera - new production by Olivier Py

Stéphane Lissner (2014 – 2020)

Stéphane Lissner succeeded Nicolas Joel in 2014. He extended Philippe Jordan’s contract as Music Director and invited many theatre directors, including Claus Guth, Calixto Bieito, Peter Sellars, Dmitri Tcherniakov, Ivo van Hove, Krzysztof Warlikowski, Thomas Jolly…

A new production marked the beginning of his tenure: Arnold Schönberg’s Moses und Aaron, sung for the first time in its original language at the Paris Opera and staged by Romeo Castellucci.

He also decided to feature pieces that had never been staged at the Opera, such as Francesco Cavalli’s Eliogabalo in 2016, and worked to promote the French repertoire of the 19th century, with a cycle on Berlioz or new productions of Carmen, Les Huguenots and Manon.

New works related to literary masterpieces were also commissioned: Trompe-la-Mort (2017) by Luca Francesconi, based on Balzac’s novel, Bérénice (Racine) by Michael Jarrell (2018), Le Soulier de satin (Claudel) by Marc-André Dalbavie (2021). The French premiere of Kaija Saariaho’s Only the Sound Remains was performed in 2018.

Other production highlights include Cosi fan tutte staged by choreographer Anne Teresa De Keersmaker (2017) and Rameau's Les Indes galantes by Clement Gogitore and Bintou Dembélé (2019) as part of the 350th anniversary of the Paris Opera.

Moses und Aaron

by Arnold Schönberg

Opera - directed by Romeo Castellucci


by Francesco Cavalli


Trompe-la-Mort (2017)

by Luca Francesconi d’après Balzac


Bérénice (2018)

by Michael Jarrell after Racine


Le Soulier de satin (2021)

by Marc-André Dalbavie after Claudel


Only the Sound Remains (2018)

by Kaija Saariaho

Opera - French premiere

Cosi fan tutte (2017)

by Mozart

Opera - choreography by Anne Teresa De Keersmaker (2017)

Les Indes galantes (2019)

by Rameau

Opera - choreography by Clement Gogitore and Bintou Dembélé

Brigitte Lefèvre left the Opera after more than 20 years as dance director. Benjamin Millepied took over: he renovated the floors of the Palais Garnier rehearsal studios and developed medical monitoring for dancers, like for professional athletes. He staged his own creations and commissioned choreographers such as Crystal Pite, Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker....

He left his post in July 2016 and was replaced by Aurélie Dupont. While reviving the great ballets of the repertoire, the former Étoile dancer gave particular importance to new choreographic aesthetics, in particular from the Baatsheva Dance Company such as Hofesh Shechter or Ohad Naharin, and succeeded in convincing Mats Ek to come back in 2019 to offer two creations to the dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet: Another Place and Bolero.

Immerse in the Paris Opera universe

Follow us

Back to top