Speech – Plácido Domingo – Grande Soirée du Patrimoine Culturel 2019

Speech delivered by Europa Nostra’s President Maestro Plácido Domingo at the Grande Soirée du Patrimoine Européen on the occasion of the 2019 European Heritage Awards / Europa Nostra Awards Ceremony, Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris.

Grande Soirée du Patrimoine


Chers Lauréats de nos Prix,

Chers Amis,

C’est avec un très grand plaisir que je suis avec vous ce soir – en ma qualité de président d’Europa Nostra – pour célébrer la culture et le patrimoine culturel de Notre Europe !

Peu d’endroits dans le monde sont mieux placés pour parler de culture! Paris, La Ville des Lumières !

Paris touchée au coeur par l’incendie de Notre Dame, mais aussi Paris resplendissante, par la renaissance de nombreux lieux du patrimoine, comme ce magnifique theatre, mon cher Théâtre du Chatelet! Paris, terre de contrastes, Paris-Sisyphe, Paris plus que jamais Ville Eternelle…, Paris que j’aime tant!

I am deeply honoured to preside once again this Awards Ceremony. I am also moved when I see the expression of deserved pride on the faces of our HERITAGE CHAMPIONS. Because I know that they have all accomplished something fundamental to protect and enhance one of the most essential aspects of our European identity – our cultural heritage in its multiple dimensions.

Tonight, we have witnessed ‘un spectacle unique’ – we have embarked on a captivating travel across time, and on a fascinating journey through Europe. From unique heritage treasures of the Norwegian southern coast to exceptional archeological remains in central Armenia; from a masterpiece of an Ancient pilgrim route in Northwestern Spain to a revitalized industrial complex in southern Poland. Passing ‘digitally’ through the Belgian Capital to admire 15th century paintings in ultra-high-resolution to an island in the Dalmatian Coast where the art of wooden shipbuilding has survived. And these are just a few ‘acts’ on this beautiful “Grand Opera d’Europe”.

We have heard so many stories between people and their heritage… These are not only SUCCESS stories, these are also the stories of tireless COMMITMENT, skillful HARD WORK, and outstanding TALENT of so many individuals, associations, foundations, businesses, cities, regions and governments.

And these are also stories of COURAGE, of RESILIENCE and BRAVERY. Today, we have conferred Europe’s highest distinction, to the Paris Fire Brigade, who have performed a real miracle as the true guardian angels of Notre-Dame. THANK YOU to each one of you for rescuing this invaluable treasure for PARIS, FRANCE EUROPE and for the WHOLE OF HUMANITY.

These Laureates, to whom we pay tribute tonight, are the perfect Ambassadors of what Commissioner-designate Marya Gabriel, who will be Tibor Navracsis’ successor AS EUROPEAN COMMISSIONER IN CHARGE OF CULTUREL, has referred as ‘L’Europe des cœurs’ et ‘l’Europe des talents’



As you know, the European project is at – yet another -crossroad. We see in many countries a worrying rise of populism and extremism. We also see serious threats to the political, social, cultural and natural environment in which we live. We have many challenges ahead. But this is precisely the moment when we have to nurture what brings us together!

We need to continue to build – and preserve – bridges between people and cultures !

At a moment when many people are doubting the future of the European Union, we must rise to defend it! All together, in our respective roles and capacities. This is the message that I would like to call upon all of you tonight : those who are on stage and have been rewarded for their accomplishments; those who are in the audience as cultural practitioners; but also those who have been honoured with the responsibility to lead Our Europe!

Ce soir, au Theatre du Chatelet a Paris, Europa Nostra et moi, nous lancons donc à tous, un appel vibrant:

« Relançons l’Europe par la culture et le patrimoine culturel ! »

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