Rooms with a view
Don Juan and Faust
Gerard Mortier became famous as the artistic director of the Brussels opera house La Monnaie. Over the past years he has been professionally active around Europe in several opera houses and festivals. At the moment he is artistic leader of Teatro Real in Madrid. Gerard Morier is a man of the world. He is a man of Europe.
Every year the Flemish Parliament hosts an event called the State of the European Union and this year Gerard Mortier was the keynote speaker.
In his introduction Gerard Mortier went back to the second World War, when Europe faced the damage and the new global political constellation. The founding fathers of European integration which led to the European Union were according to him visionaries who established this long period of peace and freedom in the continent of Europe.
The problems the European Union faces now are caused by nationalistic tendencies. Gerard Mortier says that the concept of the “nation” at first had a very positive connotation. It referred to democracy, to the power of the people. It was Napoleon who created nationalism as we know it now, as he put the French nation against others. Nationalism led to fascism and Nazism. Populist parties are quite often nationalistic because nationalism appeals to small instincts.
Europe should not be considered as something “extra”. Mortier said that we need the best politicians for the European Parliament which should have more power.
Europe has always been a continent with a common spirit. Gerard Mortier, man of music, said that European music quite often has the andante tempo. There are no mountains high enough to prevent us from walking from one side of Europe to the other. All over Europe we have coffee houses to have discussions. We have so much in common.
Europe has its own identity and we should cherish it. We created 2 mythologies that make us unique. We incorporate both Don Juan and Faust. Don Juan refers to our open-minded morals. Faust gave us the freedom of thought, our drive to act, to discover, to take risks.
Gerard Mortier ended with a message for the young people in the audience. He asked them to create a Europe with a stable political structure, a Europe not just ruled by economy and where there is space for the richness and diversity of our culture.