Opera houses in search of cheap singers

Opera houses in search of cheap singers


norman lebrecht

November 22, 2014

The above headline in Le Monde is causing lots of waves.

The article is a song of praise for directors and casting chiefs at Nancy and Bordeaux, who have kept their audiences happy by spotting big voices when they were young and cheap. Bordeaux tapped Nina Stemme long before she caught the eye of Bayreuth. The top fee at Bordeaux is 10,000 Euros, but it is paid only once or twice per season. For the rest, these opera houses are on the hunt.

There’s not much content in the article, but the headline nails a prevalent phenomenon.

The tenor Reinaldo Macias has responded online:


reinaldo macias


‘Opera singers are also looking!!! We’re looking for competent theater directors at affordable prices!!! It’s time to stop using singers as the scapegoats for the current crisis created by the mismanagement of theater directors. Production and management costs have skyrocketed while soloists face ever increasing costs and significantly lower fees. In the arts we face the equivalent of the banking crisis and the blame can be placed directly on the shoulders of theater directors first and foremost.’

 h/t: Peter Lodahl


  • Julien says:

    The article comes from Le Figaro, and not Le Monde.

  • Michael Butchard says:

    I’m cheap. Pick me!

  • Ursula says:

    Bravo Reinaldo! you are soooo right!

  • John Borstlap says:

    A good reason to finally send ‘Regietheater’ to the garbage heap and focus again on the music, with sober visual representation related to the opera plot.

  • Emil Archambault says:

    From now on, let’s do only concert performances of operas: this way, we can “focus on the music”, and not be bothered by acting, dancing and all these other bothering elements of Gesamtkunstwerk!

  • Theodore McGuiver says:

    Bravo, Reinaldo.

  • Alexander Brown says:

    Yes! Yes! Yes! A singer spends years in training, with a career – IF HE/SHE IS LUCKY – that might last 25 years. The costs of that training (plus participation in numerous corrupt or incompetent competitions) will in most cases never be recouped. I would say that at least half of all the singing students in the world NEVER make a career, often ending up at best teaching and otherwise doing a completely different job. Shame on opera administrations for blaming the poor singer (and most of them ARE poor!), while spending untold sums on ridiculous productions (and their own salaries…) that no-one in their right mind would go to see: people buy tickets for the music and the singers, not to see people defecating (Bieito’s Ballo) on stage. Incidentally, I wonder how much Bieito was paid for that piece of tripe….