The Ruhrtriennale mourns the death of its founding artistic director Gerard Mortier

09 March 2014

The Ruhrtriennale mourns the death of its founding artistic director Gerard Mortier. Mortier directed the Ruhrtriennale's first cycle from 2002 to 2004, setting an international benchmark. With his forward-looking concept and exceptional programme, he established the festival in the "cathedrals of the industrial age" and gave the Ruhrtriennale its unmistakable face.
In these "construction halls for art" in the Ruhrgebiet, Gerard Mortier placed his focus on creations - productions, which crossed art-form boundaries in dialogue with their locations: theatre, opera and dance combined with innovative developments in the visual arts, pop and concert music. Representative examples of these included acclaimed productions such as Sentimenti, Saint Francois d'Assise, The Magic Flute, Wolf or the series Century of Song.

As a formative innovator in the European opera and concert landscape he worked in Brussels, Salzburg, Paris and finally Madrid. With his passing, the Ruhrtriennale loses one of its greatest supporters, who retained close links with it to the last.

Gerard Mortier, founding artistic director of the Ruhrtriennale, died on Saturday 8th March 2014 at the age of 70.

Reactions to the death of Gerard Mortier:

Heiner Goebbels, Artistic Director of the Ruhrtriennale:
"With the artistic impulses generated in his work as a curator and artistic director, Gerard Mortier more than anyone else made it possible to think of opera in a different way from that in which it had previously been known. He not only confronted music theatre with new constellations of artists and the visual arts, he also made productions of the opera repertoire contemporary and thereby gave them a future. I have been glad to carry forward many of the initiatives with which he established the Ruhrtriennale. I am very pleased to have had the opportunity to get to know him personally in recent years. His considerable interest in our productions and above all his spontaneous willingness to support our No Education programme as its patron was of great importance for our work. For this too, we thank him."

Minister Ute Schäfer MdL, Ministry for Family, Children, Youth, Culture and Sport of the State of North Rhine-Westfalia, chair of the board of Kultur Ruhr GmbH:
"With Gerard Mortier North Rhine-Westfalia loses a great friend and the world of the arts loses one of its truly great personalities. As the founding artistic director, he gave the Ruhrtriennale an unmistakable face in the years 2002-2004 and thus laid the artistic foundations for its enduring success. It was his credo to find new forms of theatre and music theatre for these "cathedrals of industrial culture" which could only be realised there."