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For more than a century, the Monte-Carlo Opera has been a jewel in the crown of Monaco’s music scene.

Monaco’s music scene did not begin with the construction of the Monte-Carlo Opera, but the official opening of the Salle Garnier on 25 January 1879 was nonetheless a turning point. An era of extraordinary world creations was born, thanks in particular to Raoul Gunsbourg, who served as the Opera’s Director from 1892 to 1951 (a record!). These included Le Jongleur de Notre-Dame (1902), Chérubin, Don Quixote, Roma, Cléopâtre and Amadis by Jules Massenet, works by Saint-Saëns, Puccini’s La Rondine (The Swallow), Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges, and many more.

To bring them to life, the Monte-Carlo Opera hired legendary performers such as Caruso, hosted Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, commissioned sets from artists such as Picasso… “One will now go to Monte-Carlo as one goes to Bayreuth, with the difference being that Monte-Carlo boasts an eclectic, international repertoire,” wrote a Le Figaro critic in 1894.

Jean-Louis Grinda has held the reins at the Monte-Carlo Opera since 2007. The Monegasque national took over from Britain’s John Mordler and has stamped his mark on this institution that is now over a hundred years old, alternating between the favourite classics in the company’s repertoire (Mozart, Verdi, etc.) and more rarely seen pieces. “My duty to the audience is both to present well-known works that they will enjoy rediscovering and to introduce them to those that they do not know,” Grinda says.

© Direction de la Communication / Manuel Vitali
© Direction de la Communication / Manuel Vitali

The Opera’s Director, who also leads the Chorégies d’Orange, takes particular care over casting, using a mix of international stars and talented youngsters. Opera’s elite have all performed here, from Sonya Yoncheva to Roberto Alagna – who has remained loyal to the Monegasque stage since his debut in 1989 – not forgetting Cecilia Bartoli and Juan Diego Florez.

On 3 December 2019, H.R.H. Princess Caroline of Hanover, Chair of the Monte-Carlo Opera Board of Directors, announced that Cecilia Bartoli would take over from Jean-Louis Grinda on 1 January 2023.

An internationally renowned singer who has led the Musiciens du Prince as artistic director since the ensemble was formed in 2016, Cecilia Bartoli will be the first woman to take on this role.

“Taking on the leadership of the Monte-Carlo Opera is the realisation of a dream. I will be the first woman to occupy this position, as well as the first opera singer since Guy Grinda, Jean-Louis Grinda’s father. This is a perfect illustration of my motto: ‘Draw on tradition and bring innovation!”

Cecilia Bartoli

© Direction de la Communication - Michael Alesi
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