“Gerard Mortier, who died of cancer on Saturday at age 70, is being widely eulogized for the incalculable role he played in the opera world … in Brussels, Paris and Madrid,” writes Mark Swed in Monday’s (3/10) Los Angeles Times. “But it wasn’t only Europe and it wasn’t only opera in which Mortier’s influence has proven pervasive.… In the summer of 1992, Mortier … [invited] the L.A. Philharmonic and Esa-Pekka Salonen to be in residence [at the Salzburg Festival] for a month. Salonen … was to become music director of the L.A. Phil that fall. Not only did he conduct several concerts revolving around 20th century music with the L.A. Phil in Salzburg that summer, but he and Sellars, with the L.A. Phil in the pit, staged a new production of Olivier Messiaen’s five-hour ‘Saint François d’Assise.’ … Sellars and Salonen, Salonen and the L.A. Phil, all were unproven when Mortier took a chance and invited them to the highest profile festival in the world. That summer marks the moment when the L.A. Phil began to be perceived everywhere as a leader of orchestras…. Later Mortier created a full staging for the Paris Opera of the Salonen-Sellars-Bill Viola ‘Tristan Project,’ originally created for the L.A. Phil and Walt Disney Concert Hall.” Swed’s consideration of Mortier also chronicles his influence at Long Beach Opera and L.A. Opera.
Posted March 12, 2014