The Paris Opera
The Management and Governance
of a Major Cultural Institution

A book written by Philippe Agid &
Jean-Claude Tarondeau


The Gall Era

Results and explanations for success

In 9 years, from 1995 to 2004, the management of The Paris Opera was completely renewed, and the results of its overall activities, especially artistic, conformed to the plan agreed in 1993.


At the end of the Gall Era, the repertoire included 80 works for which the set decoration, costumes and props were available. Musicians, choirs and dancers are better and better acquainted with works that they perform more and more regularly. The direction and stage effects are recorded and can be easily used again.

The number of spectators was higher than was foreseen in 1995.

Financially, the Opera did even better than planned in 1995, despite the costs involved in the application of the Aubry laws and the wages crisis in 2000.

The Paris Opera has regained its position among the great opera houses of the world. Comparison, particularly financial, with the main opera houses in New York, Vienna and Munich however does not always show to Paris' advantage. (See comparisons between four opera houses).

Explanations for success

Artistic and financial responsibilities are no longer disassociated: this was one of the main problems with the situation before 1993.

A high standard of performance and lyrical cohesion both for new and existing productions. Musical and vocal coherence and levels are a must.

The audience appreciation is the best form of communication on quality of performance and standards: le “bouche à oreille” provides the best publicity for the opera reputation.

Yet disagreements sometimes classically occur on the choice of certain directors (designers).

The programme is balanced, with a constant number of shows and performances each season coherent with the public demand, and justifies the importance of the fixed costs of the Paris Opera. Lyrical and ballet performances are shared between the Bastille Opera House (2/3 lyrical) and the Palais Garnier (2/3 ballet), between popular works from the 17th to the 20th century and works less well known, between existing and new productions.

A rigorous and transparent financial management system has been set up.

Technical and financial specifications limit the temptation for directors and their teams to overspend. Altogether variable costs remain lower than variable resources. The management of all the house services obeys a strict cost limitation structure throughout the year. The state administration is no longer involved in the running of the house, provided that expenses are on line with the approved budgets.

Social agreements have been negociated in the field of working organization and number of worked hours per year. In 2000, substantial wages increase took place. The book explains the positive and negative issues of social conflicts.

Seasonal reports for the Gall era
Seasonal reports for the Gall era