Der Mortier Award und der Förderpreis Mortier Next Generation Award wurden ins Leben gerufen, um das Vermächtnis des 2014 verstorbenen Intendanten und Theater-Visionärs Gerard Mortier für die Gegenwart fruchtbar zu machen. Sie werden an Persönlichkeiten verliehen, die sich im Geiste Mortiers um neue Wege künstlerischen Ausdrucks bemühen.

Der Mortier Award wurde 2014 von Heinz Weyringer, vormals Intendant des Regie- und Bühnenwettbewerbs Ring Award (Graz), und Albrecht Thiemann, vormals verantwortlicher Redakteur des internationalen Fachmagazins Opernwelt (Berlin), gegründet. Erster Preisträger war Gerard Mortier selbst. Die nächste Preisträger sind Markus Hinterhäuser, Alexander Kluge, Ariane Mnouchkine.

Der mit 30.000 Euro ausgestattete Förderpreis Mortier Next Generation Award wurde von Serge Dorny, Intendant der Bayerischen Staatsoper München, sowie den Gründern des Mortier Award initiiert und erstmals 2019 in Mortiers Geburtsstadt Gent an den polnischen Dramaturgen und Regisseur Krystian Lada vergeben. Zweite Preisträgerin ist die deutschen Sängerin und Opernregisseurin Ulrike Schwab. Der Mortier Next Generation Award wird zusätzlich vom Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin unterstützt, das den Ausgezeichneten einen mehrmonatigen Arbeitsaufenthalt ermöglicht (Mortier Fellowship). 

Mortier Award

Der Hauptpreis

Mesdames et Monsieurs,


Gerard Mortier was a universalist. Not in a technocratic sense. But as a humanist who believed unequivocally in the basic ideals of enlightenment. It is important to emphasize this in a time of growing mental, social, cultural divides, of political polarizations and a general trend of confusing the necessity to struggle for global justice with the confining, fragmenting dynamics of identity politics. Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité – the ethical principles associated with the French Revolution, that nowadays adorn the façade of every public building in France, were not glorious slogans from the past to Mortier. They were objectives yet to be fully achieved, the very guidelines and driving force behind his creative work in the performing arts.


Undoubtedly, music and theatre formed the cornerstones of Mortier’s passion and professional life. Yet, he never adopted a l’art pour l’art escapism. Music, theatre, the arts in general only made sense to him as a medium to explore the condition humaine. And that meant: to explore the multifarious diversity of the human experience, to face complexities and accept ambiguities – between male and female, queer and hetero; between black and white; between East and West, North and South. Yes, Mortier’s personal philosophy and artistic canon was rooted in the European tradition – in archetypical narratives, the ancient Greek and Roman myths, in archetypical characters, Faust or Don Juan, in Monteverdi, Mozart and classical modernism. The radius and scope of his curiosity, however, reached far beyond what in French is called the Ancien Monde


When Heinz Weyringer, long-time director of the Graz-based international Ring Award competition, and me, long-time editor-in-chief of the Berlin-based opera magazine Opernwelt, initiated the Mortier Awards ten years ago, it was with the intention to keep that Kantian universalist outlook alive which inspired and enriched so many people who had the privilege to meet Gerard Mortier. Shaken by the news of his fatal illness, we felt something ought to be done to encourage and acknowledge work conceived in this spirit. In the spirit of Sisyphos, who never gives up rolling his rock up hill, no matter how dire the circumstances, and whom – as Albert Camus suggested – we should consider a happy man, because no setback can impair his will to break free of the burdens inflicted on him.

Gerard Mortier loved the myth of Sisyphos, in the allegedly futile toiling of this anti-hero he detected a mirror-image of his own mission. This is why he was fascinated with the small Sisyphos bronze sculpture created by Alexander Polzin, who he met when he lived as a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study (Wissenschaftskolleg). And this is why the figure of Sisyphos became the token of The Mortier Award – a Lifetime Achievement award that was presented for the first time to Gerard Mortier himself, posthumously in 2014; three years later to pianist and Artistic Director of the Salzburg Festival, Markus Hinterhäuser; in 2021 to the author and filmmaker Alexander Kluge. We are glad to award the fourth edition to Ariane Mnouchkine today.


Some six years ago, at the initiative and with the help of Serge Dorny, we managed to add a prize for Young Artists to the portfolio, the Mortier Next Generation Award. It is endowed with 30.000 Euros and a special fellowship granted by the Institute For Advanced Studies, Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin. The first editions were awarded to Polish dramaturge, librettist and stage producer Krystian Lada and to the German stage producer Ulrike Schwab. Today we can present the third edition to a young innovator of music theatre, Jeffrey Döring from Leipzig, Germany – thanks to a generous gift of the Fondation Pierre Bergé – Yves Saint-Laurent. Following award ceremonies in Graz and Salzburg (Austria), in Mortier’s home town Ghent (Belgium) and now here in Paris, we will move on, in 2025, to another location where the imprint of Mortier’s universal mind can be sensed up to our endangered, tension-ridden present: the Ruhrtriennale arts festival he helped to inaugurate two decades ago in industrial heritage sites from the coal mining and steel manufacturing era.   


All of this would not be possible without the support of various personalities and institutions. I mentioned a few. Other partners are the Friends of the Salzburg Festival (Austria), the Flemish government (Belgium) and the state government of North Rhine-Westphalia (Germany). Our deep gratitude goes to all donors and partners, including everyone at Opéra national de Paris who helped to make this event possible. Thank you for your hospitality!



Albrecht Thiemann


Berlin, 25 February 2024


Next Generation




Next Generation


Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin