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

A book written by Philippe Agid &
Jean-Claude Tarondeau



Revue française de gestion (French Management Review)
N° 32/162 ; April 2006

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

Philippe Agid et Jean-Claude Tarondeau [...] describe in this work the specificities of managing this high point of French cultural life. Three central ideas unfold in this remarkable text, which leads the reader to wander pleasantly from a vivid, colourful historical account to theoretical reflection worthy of a management handbook via detours into the world of the lyrical and choreographical arts: the weight of history is always present in the life of a cultural institution; the managerial approach is more essential than ever to assure the longevity of this type of organisation; in short the specificities of cultural activity must always be at the forefront of the manager's mind.

[...] Whereas many authors, basing their arguments on Baumol's law, use the marked specificity of the cultural institution to refute the relevance of management methods, Philippe Agid and Jean-Claude Tarondeau [...] demonstrate from the start the importance of recognising the cost system.

[...] Another important theme developed by the authors is the operation of services offered by the Opera. Several types of audience must be considered simultaneously, with specific expectations and functions. Comparison with emblematic foreign institutions like the New York Metropolitan Opera, or the Operas in Vienna and Munich, highlights the importance of strategic reflexion regarding the establishment's mission.

[...] One of the authors' great achievements is to reconstruct with great sublety the extraordinary alchemy of the stage, which remains one of the principal ingredients of success, this is a direct consequence of this live spectacle specificity, illustrated by the symbolic raising of the curtain - which can even be counted as a cost unit in the calculation of operating costs!

Very few works have been dedicated to the management of cultural institutions. We have to applaud the contribution [...] that Philippe Agid and Jean-Claude Tarondeau have made to understanding the specificities of managing this institution [...] Even though the Opera has to preserve the symbolic magic of the stage, it greatly benefits from adopting rigorous management systems, which in the long term will help to preserve its soul rather than threaten it.

Marc Filser
IAE Dijon et Cermab-LEG
Université de Bourgogne