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Paris Opera’s Former Director, Hugues Gall has Died at 84

Opera manager Hugues Gall was also the director of Grand Théâtre de Genève

 

Born in 1940, Hugues R. Gall was the director of Opéra national de Paris from 1995 to 2004 and of the Grand Théâtre de Genève for 15 years. Since 2008, he directed the Academy of Fine Arts’ House of Claude Monet.

Dedicated during his life to the development of opera and ballet, Gall was assistant to Rolf Liebermann at the Réunion des Théâtres Lyriques Nationaux before taking on the role at Paris Opera himself. 

His tenure left a lasting legacy on the company with the reconstitution of repertoire and a new governance and economic model that exists today. His other successes included the Opéra Bastille project — associated with the Palais Garnier, where he reinstalled part of the operatic repertoire and revitalized its prestige after renovation.

To his credit, he was part of organizing 360 performances, which reached almost 900,000 audience members annually across both stages, as well as 80 new opera productions.

Additionally, Gall helped to commission numerous works for the stage and deeply admired dancers and choreographers George Balanchine, Rudolf Nureyev, and Jiří Kylián, who became a close friend. 

Under Gall’s leadership, 60 new works were added to the Ballet repertoire, including Signes (Carolyn Carlson), Clavigo (Roland Petit), Casanova (Angelin Preljocaj), Nosferatu (Jean-Claude Gallotta), and Wuthering Heights (Kader Belarbi).

Theater directors and actors he worked with included Jorge Lavelli, Jérôme Savary, Andrei Serban, Francesca Zambello and Robert Carsen, Lev Dodin, Herbert Wernicke, Willy Decker, Graham Vick, and Laurent Pelly. 

Gall also featured soprano Renée Fleming, who had made her European debut at the Grand Théâtre de Genève, and who sang the Countess in Capriccio for his last performance at the Palais Garnier in 2004. By the end of his term with the Paris Opera, the company was seeing 95% attendance.

A member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, Gall’s many honors included France’s Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur et des Arts et Lettres, the Grand officier de l'Ordre national du mérite, and the Bourgeois d'Honneur de la ville de Genève.

“Hugues R. Gall left an indelible mark on the world of the arts,” the Paris Opera wrote in a tribute. “Many people who knew him will remember him as a free, charismatic man, with a sharp intelligence, fair and often implacable words, who naturally commanded respect. In a profession where there is no school, Hugues R. Gall will leave the mark of a great opera director, and an inspiration that will never fade.”

Our condolences to Mr. Gall’s family, friends, and colleagues.

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