Dr Mortier began his career in opera as assistant to the director of the Flanders Festival. He went on to lead Brussels' Théâtre Royal de la Monnaie, where he stayed for a decade before being named director of the Salzburg Festival, where he succeeded Herbert von Karajan. Following a ten-year-long tenure in Salzburg - where he often found himself at odds with conservative audiences - he began a three-year stint as director of the RuhrTriennale arts festival, which staged events in the abandoned industrial venues of Germany's Ruhr region. Appointed director designate of the Opéra National de Paris in 2000, and officially taking the title of director in 2004, Dr Mortier's efforts while leading that company consistently upturned the status quo, simultaneously focusing on experimental new productions and the presentation of modern and twentieth century operas.
Dr Mortier next assumed a three-year term as the director of a new international arts festival, the RuhrTriennale 2002-04, in which innovative arts programming is presented in former industrial venues in the Ruhr Valley of Germany. In 2000, Dr Mortier was appointed Director Designate of the Opera National de Paris and led the company as its director from 2004. His tenures were characterized by a bold, creative and innovative focus on new productions and 20th century opera. He was also known for exciting collaborations with the most important musicians and composers of our time, as well as with major visual artists and renowned film and stage directors. Gerard Mortier died in 2014.