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“Until now, the Philarmonie de Paris welcomed the “world”. She must now go to him”

Olivier Mantei, March 21, 2022, at the Philharmonie de Paris.

In November 2021, Olivier Mantei took up the post of Director General of the Cité de la Musique-Philharmonie de Paris for a five-year term, succeeding Laurent Bayle. At 56, the native of Nantes, who came from the world of production, was first co-director of the Bouffes du Nord in Paris, then director of the Opéra-Comique since 2015. Artistic requirement, multidisciplinarity and concern for transmission are at the heart of heart of the concerns of the new strong man of La Villette, met before the press conference which announces, Tuesday March 22, his first season.

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You were one of the first to speak out in the days following Russia’s attack on Ukraine. Will this situation affect your programming?

The brochure was published before the war and the programming will obviously be readjusted according to the measures taken by the government. Thus, we will not invite formations supported by the Russian government as well as those who lead them. Ditto for the artists who have taken a stand in favor of Vladimir Putin. For the others, we will not cut ties and will not ask them to speak out, at the risk of putting themselves in danger in their country. Conversely, we will not program an artist just because he is Ukrainian.

What are your first observations after these few months at the head of the Philharmonie?

I was not in unknown territory. With Laurent Bayle, we organised, in 2003, when I was still an independent producer, the first biennial of vocal art at the Cité de la Musique. I arrive in a house that works, whose issues are complex and protean, and therefore fascinating. The Philharmonie is both a creative tool that affects all the arts and a center of excellence, even in the field of pedagogy and education. Malraux’s dual project – reconciling artistic demands while democratizing culture – finally seems within reach.

You talk about a horizon set at 2025…

I actually drew a course. 2025 will mark the centenary of the birth of the composer Pierre Boulez, the thirty years of the Cité de la Musique, and the ten years of the Philharmonie. It could be the culmination of a cycle. Most musical institutions remain turned towards the past. On the contrary, the Philharmonie is focused on its present and looks to the future. We feel it both anchored in its territory, but also much more receptive to variations in time. Until now, it welcomed the “world”, the European and American phalanxes. She must now go to him. That is to say, produce its content and distribute it under its own label, as is already the case with the Orchester de Paris.

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