Träger des Mortier Next Generation Award

2023/2024 - Jeffrey Döring



Geboren 1991 in Greiz, Deutschland
Studium der Theaterwissenschaft, Philosophie und Deutschen Philologie an der Freien Universität Berlin und der Dramaturgie an der Akademie für Darstellende Kunst Baden-Württemberg 

Biografie Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 

Mortier Next Generation Award 2023/2024

Preisträger: Krystian Lada



von Alexander Pölzing

Dear guests and friends of the Mortier Award,
It is not only an honour for me but a matterclose to my heart to be involved in the endeavour to keep Gérard Mortier's spirit alive. But

what does that mean? How can a work that was so intrinsically linked to a very charismatic person be continued when he is no longer with us? I can only try to follow the principles that I experienced in my collaboration with Mortier. The main points that come to mind are

curiosity, trust and belief in the necessary renewal of the musical theatre that he loved so much. What does that mean in concrete terms when you try to award a prize in his name?

You can approach art like a sport. That means awarding a prize to people who have crossed the finishing line with impressive results, so to speak. You then honour the efforts of the journeys of discovery in retrospect and hope to reinforce the power of their journeys.

But, I don't think that would be enough. I experienced Gerard Mortier as a director who was prepared to take risks and who wanted to make things possible. In this respect, art is more like a science that needs the laboratory and experimentation. The experiment that ventures into the unknown and does not shy away from failure. This is how the Next

Generation Award came about.We endeavour to realise this core principle in his selection. This means that when Jeffrey Doering receives his prize today, we trust that he will embark on an exploration whose outcome we do not know. We hope and wish that the process itself will reveal the unknown to us viewers.

Let me quote briefly from the introduction to Doering's application: "For a long time, opera was the art form of a small elite - first the aristocracy, later the educated bourgeoisie. This hermetic isolation continued until the 20th century and is still noticeable today. As a result, institutional opera houses in Germany predominantly cater to the viewing habits and lifeworlds of the 19th century (both formally as a peep-box stage and in terms of content in Eurocentric and patriarchally coloured material). Impulses from the independent theatre scene are rarely reflected in opera productions. 

Yet it is precisely forms of biographical and documentary theatre (from the independent scene) that offer a great opportunity to soften classist hierarchies. Instead of just intellectuals, texts and themes come directly from interviews with "everyday experts". The associated idea of participation and, above all, encounters with people and their perspectives, their lifestyles and ways of perceiving things is what interests and moves me as a director in the theatre. 

And although the institution of opera sometimes seems exclusive, the art form of music theatre has a profoundly unifying and community-building power. The human voice, which gives insight into a feeling through singing and thus makes situations not only intellectually

comprehensible but also emotionally tangible, can make people vibrate together and immediately move them emotionally. So what emotional power must unfold when biographical and musical theatre come together? I would like to explore this in practice with the Bluebeard's Castle project laboratory on the subject of loneliness in old age."
This approach is aimed precisely at the core of Gérard Mortier's work.

How can I lead the opera out of its historically developed ivory tower?

How can we question existing material so that it deals with our reality?

How can I do this without betraying the artistic substance of the material?

I believe Jeffrey Doering has sincerely embarked on a quest to find his own answers to these questions and I wish him and us a good journey.

Opéra de Paris, Opéra Bastille, Paris, 29 Februar 2023

Preisverleihung am 29. Februar 2024, Opéra de Paris, Opéra Bastille, Paris

  • Jan Vandenhouwe, Serge Dorny, André Gantman, Krystian Lada, nn, Albrecht Thiemann

Alexander Neef

Sylvain Cambreling

Albrecht Thiemann

Jeffrey Döring

Carl Grouwet

Alexander Pölzin &
Jeffrey Döring

Alexander Pölzin &
Jeffrey Döring


Carl Grouwet, Alexander Neef, Shaghayegh Beheshti, Albrecht Döring, Jack Lang, Jeffrey Döring, Sylvain Cambreling, Alexander Pölzin

2019/2020 - Krystian Lada

Stage director and librettist 

The Airport Society, Brüssel 

Born in 1983 in Warsaw
Studied Dramaturgy and Literary Studies at the University of Amsterdam

Biografie Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 

Mortier Next Generation Award 2019/2020

Preisträger: Krystian Lada



von Krystian Lada

Gerard Mortier.
This is my response every time I am asked to name the person most influential on my artistic work in opera. And I know that I am but one of many who discovered opera and it’s potential thanks to him. Gerard Mortier left us way too early in 2014. His revolutionary aspirations challenged the canonical way of thinking in the established operatic world and keep resonating until today. My personal encounters with Mortier as well as his legacy have been formative for the development of my professional career in the field of opera and music theatre. The most important aspect Mortier’s spirit and work inspired in me is my belief that opera — as an art form and as an institution — can be a vital engine for an inclusive evolution of society and give a voice to groups underrepresented in the mainstream.


In my artistic practice as a stage director, librettist and opera manager I explore alternative forms of collaboration between artists, politicians and citizens. My projects pursue a feminist and post-colonial perspective on classical repertory and aim at developing new intersectional platforms of exchange between diverse social and cultural groups. I often involve local communities in the creative process and on stage, with special attention to marginalised people. I was empowered to imagine these ambitions thanks to Mortier’s prophetic work. Therefore it is an honour to be the first recipient of the Mortier Next Generation Award.


Gerard Mortier was not only an extremely versatile, imaginative executive for key opera institutions, both in Europe and America, he was also a true intellectual, a philosopher and researcher of the aesthetics, politics and history of opera. In 2001 and 2002, he was a Fellow at the prestigious Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. For almost four decades, the Wiko has welcomed about 45 Fellows from all over the world every year. They live and work together, some of them are joined by their families. Most of the Fellows are academics in the humanities, social or natural sciences. Wiko provides them with a long-term opportunity to encounter top notch researchers from a diversity of disciplines, including composers, writers, journalists, film and theater directors, or diplomats. All of them are free to work on a project of their own choice for up to ten months. Gerard Mortier used his time at the Wiko for a research project about the social and political analysis of (music) theatre and for conceiving the artistic profile of the Ruhrtriennale festival, which was inaugurated in 2002 and has been one of the most relevant contemporary festivals of the performing arts ever since.


As recipient of the Mortier Next Generation Award, I was offered a short-term fellowship at the Wiko. During my two months in Berlin-Grunewald from September to October 2019, I invited some of my artistic collaborators — set and costume designers, architects, light artists, musicians, conductors, dramaturges — to revisit several repertory operas in the context of contemporary social and political debates. The interdisciplinary nature of our collaboration allows us not only to see our respective fields of expertise and craftsmanship through other eyes, but also to challenge each other in order to investigate and transform our individual working methodologies and tools in this dialogue. This process takes us to the very DNA of the most complex art form called «opera»: all disciplines involved intersect, the whole is larger (and greater) than the sum of its parts. Very soon, I realised that this model reflects very well the ambition that is at the core of Wiko’s activities — an interdisciplinary exchange as a strategy to accelerate the development of new ideas and new research methodologies. «Unexpected encounters inspire new ideas» – a quote from the Wiko communication materials. 

What unites my artistic collaborators and me is an immanent desire of temporary co-dependence with the others and the conviction that everyone is willing and ready to enter an interplay of differences. Even though the traditional apparatus of opera production requires us to claim individual authorship of but one of the disciplines involved in a production – such as stage direction, set design, lighting, composition etc. –, our process is defined by a more fluid approach to the authorship of creative ideas. In this model, the dynamics of a collective eco-system and intelligence offer a pragmatic alternative to the mono-centric concept of the unique artist-demiurge mastering his or her craftsmanship divorced from the collaborative context. It allows us to move from a system centred on the individual (director, singer, artistic director etc.) – an ego-system – towards a more collective process of opera creation – a creative eco-system.

With the Belgium-based opera collective The Airport Society that I founded in 2017, we are exploring more collaborative ways of working in opera by engaging the different specialists involved in creation and production — from lighting design to musical direction, from physical performance to new technologies — in a non-hierarchical, open dialogue. I am very much interested in encouraging and developing such collaborative models. I am convinced that, in our heterogeneous social realities, only if we encourage and work on a more diverse, collaborative eco-system of creating and producing, opera can become a truly inclusive and compelling art form. 

[please insert a specific project – Krol Roger? – to exemplify how your ethics of collaborative creativity and production work in real life; this is essential (not only) with respect to the Mortier Next Generation Award, which was set up to support the process of conceiving and implementing a specific project; with other words: Where did the 30.000 Euros go? When and where will we see the project/production that profited most from the award?]


In the post-pandemic world – consumed by the impacts of the climate crisis, divided by political conflicts and financial inequality – arts organisations must embrace a vital role in the process of civic recovery. Without culture, without the arts there is no healthy society. New ways of individual, social, political and communicative interaction need to be explored after a long period of isolation. Opera can serve here as a laboratory: It is a genuinely heterogeneous art form, it’s fabric is woven of music, poetry, theatre, dance, architecture and the visual arts. In this sense, opera should be perceived as a prototype platform that – in a productive way – reflects the interdependence in society. In order to be relevant and to resonate with the ultra-rapid transformations of today’s world opera needs at the same time new narratives, new heroes and heroines and new formats of presentation. Opera needs to involve a wide diversity of voices, perspectives, cultures, styles and formats. Opera today needs to be many.

Operahouse Gent, January 2021

Preisverleihung am nn. Januar 2021, Gent, Opermhaus

Jan Vandenhouwe, Serge Dorny, André Gantman, Krystian Lada, nn, Albrecht Thiemann

Jan Vandenhouwe

Krystian Lada


Krystian Lada

Albrecht Thiemann


Albrecht Thiemann


Albrecht Thiemann


Jan Vandenhouwe, Serge Dorny, André Gantman, Krystian Lada, nn, Cahn, Albrecht Thiemann, nn

Jan Vandenhouwe, Serge Dorny, André Gantman, Krystian Lada, nn, Albrecht Thiemann

2018/2019 - Ulrike Schwab



Geboren in Frankfurt/Main
Studium des Operngesangs und der Musiktheaterregie an der Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin 

Preisverleihung am 17. August 2021, Salzburg, Große Universitätsaula 

Albrecht Thiemann

Ulrike Schwab

Ulrike Schwab


Ulrike Schwab, Markus Hinterhauser