The Association was founded in 1972 by opera enthusiasts and lovers of our region, including Begum Agha Khan, Prince and Princess Troubetskoy, Princess Chervachidzé, Mesdames de Beaumont, Gould, Ravano and Tunon, as well as Mr and Mrs Jean Louis Marsan. The first General Meeting was held on 17 August of that year, with Princess Chervachidzé as President. She was succeeded by Mr Vincenzo Soldati, and then on his death by his wife Violette, who contributed to the Association's development for sixteen years. It was under her presidency that the Grand Prix Lyrique de Monte Carlo was created in 1981, in response to the wishes of Their Serene Highnesses the Sovereign Prince and Princess Grace. The Grand Prix disappeared twelve years later with his departure. He was succeeded by Madame Agnès Vergottis, who passed the torch to Madame Kawther Al Abood in 1996.
FROM 1996 TO 2022
Kawther Al Abood's first act was to propose that the Friends join Fedora (European Federation of Associations and Foundations for the Promotion of Opera), which was accepted in May 1998, giving our members the opportunity to participate in operatic life in Europe. In 1999 she decided to develop patronage by creating the "Cercle de la Flûte Enchantée", presided over by Mr Paul Marie Jacques until 2015.
2002 saw the election of Mrs Liliane Roy Brochu who, from 2003 onwards, had to cope with three long seasons " off the stage " due to the renovation work in the Salle Garnier. During these difficult times, we worked very closely with the Opéra to ensure that opera lovers suffered as little as possible from the absence of their favourite stage. This cooperation was crowned by the installation of the new stage curtain donated by the members of our association. It was also Liliane Roy Brochu who inspired one of the new purposes of our association, now enshrined in our Articles of Association, namely "to contribute to the development of operatic art in the Principality". This was followed by several partnerships with the Académie de Musique - Fondation Rainier III to support the development of young artists.
As soon as he was elected in January 2007, Mr Sylvain Cohen continued to work closely with the Opera, organising, for example, an evening dedicated to John Mordler, who was leaving the direction of the Opera after twenty-two years of dedication to opera in the Principality. The same year saw the arrival of Mr Jean Louis Grinda as the new Director of the Monte-Carlo Opera.
Mr Dieter Spaethe will succeed Sylvain Cohen as President of the Association. Initiated under the presidency of Sylvain Cohen, the number of cultural trips has increased. The Friends travelled to Budapest, Saint Petersburg and Riga, then with Dieter Spaethe to Dresden, Geneva, Wroclaw and Vienna.
Mr Paul-Marie Jacques was elected President of our Association in 2015 and has been working in close collaboration with the Board of Directors. Our links with the Monte-Carlo Opera have enabled us to enhance the services offered to our members, thanks in particular to the wonderful talks given before each opera by Mr Jean-Louis Grinda, accompanied by the artists. The Friends went on to Rome, Bordeaux, Brussels, Parma, Milan, Turin, Barcelona and Athens. Our Association's collaboration with the Opéra de Monte-Carlo has grown increasingly close over the years, with perfect communication between the Presidents of the Friends and the Director of the Opéra.
Mr Patrick Rannou-Cassegrain was named to succeed Paul-Marie Jacques as President of the Friends at the beginning of 2023. At the same time, a new era for the Opéra de Monte-Carlo begins with the arrival of Madame Cecilia Bartoli at the head of our theatre on 1 January 2023. Patrick Rannou-Cassegrain has many projects for trips, for developing the sponsorship of young people (both artists and young audiences) and for the corporate offer.