Bleak news: Rome Opera faces liquidation

Bleak news: Rome Opera faces liquidation


norman lebrecht

July 25, 2014

Corriere reports: ‘At this point, there is no other way that the closure of the theater, ‘ says the superintendent of the Rome Opera, Carlo Fuortes. ‘Next Tuesday, the agenda of the Board of Directors is the forced liquidation of the theatre.’

The music director is Riccardo Muti. He has a weekend to save his company.

Read Corriere here.


riccardo muti



  • GEll says:

    Bleak news indeed. Wish them luck.

  • william osborne says:

    The funding problems for opera in Italy is directly related to the country’s move toward an American-style private funding system – a move initiated by the Berlusconi governments in the 1990s. In Italy, government funding for performing arts comes from the Fondo Unico per lo Spettacolo . In 2009, the FUS budget was € 398m – an historic low. Prior to 2006, there was over € 500m in the FUS budget which has progressively decreased since the 1990s.

    Almost half the FUS funding (47.5%) goes, by law, to Italy’s 13 main opera houses. If Italy continues to move toward a private funding system, it seems likely that 9 or 10 of its state supported opera houses will close. Interestingly, these trends in Italy demonstrate that the presence of opera is determined more by funding systems that cultural traditions.

  • gelb says:

    Sounds like a tactic Gelb could use to whip the unions in line at the Met.

    According to the article:
    1. 2 recalcitrant unions are the reason for the liquidation.
    2. “Liquidation” just means change of juridical form of the company so that they can reboot from scratch as a strategy to go around the 2 unions. The company apparently still has plenty of money.
    3. Such “liquidations” took place at Covent Garden and Opera of Paris.

    Looks a lot like Philadelphia Orchestra’s “bankruptcy”, which was a legalistic way to get leverage on its creditors and extract pay reductions from musicians.

  • mr oakmount says:

    WO wrote: “… the presence of opera [in italy] is determined more by funding systems that cultural traditions.”

    I do not think that the subsidising of culture by the state “demonstrates” a lack of cultural traditions. Opera houses often cannot be run at a profit with all the costs (including pensions etc) involved, and the state might recognise the role that culture plays in tourism and gastronomy – or indeed, the intrinsic positive value of “culture” – and therefore choose to subsidise. In the olden days opera was often subsidised by the emperors, kings and noblemen, and the US system was based to some extent on super-rich individuals or companies donating money, even buildings. This is not necessarily a healty cultural tradition either.

    • william osborne says:

      Hello Mr. Eichenberg, I think you misread my post. My point is that even in a country with a very strong operatic tradition like Italy, many houses will close without an effective public funding system. Opera is too expensive for private funding systems to work. Even with a love of opera like Italy has, an effective funding system needs to be in place or opera will largely disappear.

  • Dave T says:

    At least Peter Gelb got it partially right. Too bad for Roma, though.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    I have worked there so many times that I hardly believe Rome Opera House could close. Anyway is correct that the FUS budget has been always lower in last 20 years, the problem is that private funding system is not working well in Italy also because there are not enough fiscal advantages for sponsors. Anyway a lot of money have been thrown by the window for too many years by musical institutions, Opera Houses included. On the other side it is also true that Italian Opera House receives state funding after the season and often this funds have been cut by different governments in the mid of a season. This situation reminds the situation of Alitalia that these days is riskink definitive default if unions will not accept salary reduction for pilots and 1,000 people fired. Alternative is 15,000 people without work . But in our mind we always think a Saint will intervene. May be because we have the Vatican in Rome…

  • william osborne says:

    I agree. I can’t imagine the Rome Opera closing. Surely this is more of the poker playing that goes on as negotiations are formulated. People should know that the Rome Opera is world class. The productions and singers are very fine, and the orchestras is excellent. The improvement in Italian orchestras since the early 80s is truly astounding. Opera without the Italians would be like the Vatican without Catholics.

  • Vittorio Parisi says:

    The unions have just reached an agreement, there will be not a closure for now but some points will be discussed on August 27 concerning employement. Finally a good new but it was not worth to lose so much time and cancel performances