La Monnaie is a symbol of excellenceMax Jadot
What is your firs memory of la Monnaie?
Max Jadot (CEO BNP Paribas Fortis): I first came into contact with la Monnaie through my position at Generale Bank, which has been one of la Monnaie’s loyal Corporate Partners for decades. My first memory dates to the eighties and Der Rosenkavalier by Richard Strauss.
Did you ever sing in a choir or play a musical instrument?
Absolutely. I played the piano, from the age of ten until I was sixteen. However, I was merely an amateur. I was fond of music even then, but a career playing the piano was lost on me.
When were you last moved to tears by a concert or an opera?
You’ll never really see me cry at a concert or an opera. However, I was deeply moved by the French cellist Victor Julien-Laferrière who won the Queen Elisabeth Competition, of which BNP is a proud patron as well, in 2017. A year later, I was lucky enough to experience him playing at a private concert. I must say that when Victor Julien-Laferrière plays the cello, it really cuts through the bone.
Why do you consider opera to be the most refined art form?
I love culture in all its facettes. I can be deeply touched by a visit to the opera but equally by strolling through a museum, reading a good book or attending a concert. However, opera is a typical example of a Gesamtensemble which is a determining factor for me. In addition to the soloists, you also have the singing of the choir, there’s the orchestra, the staging, and the sets. It’s a fantastic ensemble.
Which foreign opera houses have left a deep impression on you?
I’m afraid, I can’t say that there are many that left an impression. Even if I did visit a fair share of opera houses in France, Italy, and the United States. I really feel la Monnaie rises above and beyond all the others. To me, la Monnaie is a symbol of excellence.
Why should teenagers and young adults visit the opera more frequently?
That’s not an easy question to answer, because I understand that opera can seem daunting at first, especially for youngsters. You must prepare yourself in advance and some operas are very long, so it’s not an easy feat. On the other hand, once you’ve surpassed a threshold, a magical world unfolds itself before your eyes.
How do you see the role of culture in our society?
Culture is about joy. I realise that may sound a bit crazy during the pandemic, which is clearly a time of hardship for many cultural houses and their employees. But for me culture really expresses joy. A beautiful work like Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony brings joy to life. Or to use a proverb: a thing of beauty is a joy forever.
If you were allowed to conserve one opera forever, which one would you choose and why?
That’s an easy choice: La Traviata in the 2012 mise-en-scène by Andrea Breth. I have seen many versions of La Traviata, at la Monnaie and in other opera houses, but this version is by far the best. That is why – despite all the controversy – I have watched it three times, always with great pleasure.
Who should play the part of Max Jadot in an opera about your life?
That would be such an intriguing but also complex part to play that I might as well play it myself. On the condition that I’m allowed to tell it rather than sing it. Or play the piano for that matter. (laughs)