Who and what we are:

The Mortier Award and the Mortier Next Generation Award were established to draw inspiration for our time from the legacy of Gerard Mortier, the impresario and visionary of the performing arts, who died in 2014. The awards honour personalities who, like Mortier, pursue new ways of artistic expression.


The initiators of the Mortier Award were Heinz Weyringer, formerly artistic director of the international Ring Award competition (Graz), and Albrecht Thiemann, formerly managing editor of the international music journal Opernwelt (Berlin). The first honouree was Gerard Mortier himself (2014), the second Markus Hinterhäuser (2017) and the third Alexander Kluge (2021).


Serge Dorny, Artistic Director of the Bavarian State Opera (Munich), joined the initiators of the Mortier Award to establish the Mortier Next Generation Award, which carries a cash value of 30,000 Euro. The first recipient was the Polish dramaturge and stage director Krystian Lada, who received the award in 2019 in Mortier’s native city of Ghent. The Mortier Next Generation Award is linked to a fellowship provided by the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin (Berlin Institute of Advanced Study), which offers honourees a residence of several months (Mortier Fellowship).


For more than three decades, Gerard Mortier headed renowned opera houses (La Monnaie, Brussels; Opéra national de Paris; Teatro Real, Madrid) and festivals (Salzburg Festival; Ruhrtriennale). Born on 25 November 1943 in Ghent, Mortier throughout his career pusued the art form of opera not only at the heart of artistic debates, but also at the centre of socio-political discourse. His programming choices were nourished by the conviction that opera as an art form should address socially relevant questions – and he invariably located his music theatre projects within their social and topographical surroundings: whether in Brussels, in Salzburg, at the Ruhrtriennale, in Paris or finally in Madrid


«Making theatre means breaking daily routines, questioning the acceptance of economic, political and military violence as the normal state of affairs, awakening communities to questions of human existence which cannot be regulated via laws, and affirming that the world can be better than it is. Creating theatre, then, is a mission, almost a sacred office, without the need for religious revelation. Theatre is a human religion», he noted in his programmatic book Dramaturgie einer Leidenschaft.


Since 2017, the non-profit association Mortier Awards is responsible for presenting the awards and related activities.