Its general director Dominique Meyer has given a stark analysis of the budget to an Austrian news magazine, warning he will resign if the house goes into deficit.
He said that after 14 years of stagnant public subsidies, the Staatsoper will not balance its books next season, despite record audience numbers. ‘I’ve never made a loss in my life and I’m not prepared to start making one,’ said Meyer.
He added that Culture minister Josef Ostermayer keeps saying ‘we’ll find a solution. I trust him and believe he understands the situation.’
On his resignation plan, Meyer said: ‘I’m a free man and may find myself confronted with such a decision at some point. Under no circumstances will I allow myself to be manoeuvred into a position where the conditions are not right, in other words, one which forces me to make a loss. This isn’t a threat. I’m not the sort to make threats. But the situation is extremely serious.’
Meyer said all of the house’s financial reserves had been used up. ‘We’re at zero. With the current state of our finances, we’re in a situation for the upcoming season where nothing more goes.’
He had been “ordered” to raise ticket prices. ‘It’s not something I like doing, because I believe that prices in some categories are already very high, even if they’re still nowhere near as a high as in London or Milan.’ Even so, higher ticket prices won’t be enough, he said.
Turning to the issue of the Burgtheater, where Intendant Matthias Hartmann was recently sacked for a spiralling financial scandal, Meyer said he had invited Hartmann to revive his production of Shostakovich’s Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk.
He also said he could imagine inviting him back to do another new production, insisting that Hartmann’s artistic credentials were not in question.