‘The least subsidised opera house in Europe’

‘The least subsidised opera house in Europe’


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2014

Madrid’s Teatro Rreal has put its finances in order. It now claims to have, at 30 percent of total revenue, the lowest level of state funding in Europe.

That cannot, however, be true. Covent Garden manages on well below 30 percent and Glyndebourne receives no public funds at all, except for its touring operation. Nice try, Madrid, but no tapas.

Press statement (very dull) below.

teatro real




 The Teatro Real consolidates its financing model with 70% of own income and corporate sponsorship.

 The theatre becomes the European Opera House with the least public funding in percentage terms.

 The budget for the financial year of 2015 presents a surplus and corrects the instability existent in previous years caused by the reduction of public funding.

 Since 2009, the Teatro Real has seen its public funding reduced by more than 62 million euros, and its effect has been absorbed with an economic reorganisation without turning to indebtedness or additional public funds.

 In 2015 the control on the expenditure of the running of the institution, the productions and personnel is maintained, which has meant a reduction of 12 million euros compared to 2009.

 Madrid, 15th of December of 2014 – the Patronage of the Teatro Real Foundation, in an ordinary meeting held today has approved the budget for 2015 with a total of 43.659.192 euros.

 The budget for 2015 approved today presents a surplus of more than 500,000 euros and corrects the instability existent in previous years caused by the significant reduction in funding by the Public Administration: the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sport, the Community of Madrid and the Madrid City Council.

 In 2015 the public contribution of these three administrations will be, with a slight increase of 2%, of 13,188,975 euros. This number stands for 30% of the total budget of the Teatro Real for 2015, a percentage that leaves the institution as the Opera House with least public funding in percentage terms in Spain and continental Europe.

 The accumulated decrease of public funding since 2009, year in which the Teatro Real received almost 53% of its budget through such form of funding (27,773,135) is now of more than 62 million euros. This condensation of public funding has been accommodated by the theatre through its own income, without resorting to indebtedness or additional public funding plans.

 70% of own income and private sponsorship

Facing this considerable reduction of income coming from the Public Administration and an unfavourable economic situation, the Teatro Real has managed to establish a budgetary structure where 70% of the total income is generated by private sponsorship and own income.

 The income provided by the sponsorship on behave 98 companies has risen to 10,455,819 euros in 2015, reaching and doubles the original from 2009.

The section of own income is of 20,013,789 euros, comprising the revenue from sales and other activities like the renting of spaces, guided tours and the rent or sale of past productions. Compared to 2014, both sections have experienced an increase of 6% and 12%, respectively.

 Substantial reduction in expenditure

 The decrease of expenditure initiated in 2009 and intensified in 2012 though the implementation of the action plan for the expense reduction is maintained in 2015.

 In particular, the rigorous adjustment in functioning (-44%), productions (-26%) and personnel (-23%) expenses has allowed a reduction of more than 12 million euros compared to 2009.

Regarding the expenditure in productions, the amount set aside in 2015 will be of 12,702,905 euros, which will allow the development of the important artistic activities of the Teatro Real without any impact in its quality or quantity. In this sense, throughout 2015 (including part of productions belonging to the 14/15 and 15/16 seasons) the Teatro Real has programmed 92 opera performances, of nine different oeuvres, four ballets with 14 performances, 10 concerts and recitals, and 64 sessions of our teaching programme. Other activities like the 7 sessions of “Domingos de cámara” (chamber concerts) and 6 operas on film are included.

 Financial and budgetary stability

 Within the Patronage, and facing the concerns on the economic viability of the institution generated by the recent release of the conclusions reached by the Court of Auditors in their inquiry about the Teatro Real in 2012, the President and the Managing director have reminded that despite being published in late 2014, it includes conclusions only on the accounts of 2012, year that can be seen as a turning point due to the drastic reduction of public contributions to the Teatro Real’s budget.

 They have also emphasised the important reorganisation undertaken by the institution, both in income and expenditure, which guarantees the viability of the institution. They have drawn attention to the rigorous measures applied, especially during 2013 and 2014, that have allowed the Teatro Real to face the economic crisis with increasing strength, while completely correcting the situation of 2012 and reaching the financial balance of 2015.

 Furthermore, they have insisted on the fact that, as opposed to many organisations, both public and private, the Teatro Real has managed to undergo its reorganisation without turning to indebtedness or the help of extraordinary public funds from public bailout plans.

 International Council

The Patronage has approved the creation of the International Council, with Helena Revoredo as Chairman, which will include prominent figures, like José Manuel Durão Barroso. It will contribute to the increasing participation of the international civil society in the Teatro Real and the diffusion of its artistic project.


  • william osborne says:

    Might be true if they said continental Europe. The UK, with its hybrid funding system, stands apart from the rest of Europe — an not always with positive results, at least outside of London.

    • fer says:

      En efecto, la nota de prensa original se refiere a la Europa continental:

      “Esta cifra, representa el 30% del presupuesto total del Teatro Real para 2015, lo que sitúa a la institución como el teatro de ópera con menor porcentaje de financiación pública de España y también el menor de Europa continental.”

      ” This number stands for 30% of the total budget of the Teatro Real for 2015, a percentage that leaves the institution as the Opera House with least public funding in percentage terms in Spain and continental Europe – “

  • M. says:

    The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden, Germany’s biggest opera house (although, granted, not with a full-year opera season), operates without subsidy.

  • suzanne says:

    The Festspielhaus Baden-Baden is not an Opera House. It is a performing arts center that also stages opera and hires ensembles. It has no resident singing ensemble, orchestra, chorus, costume designers, etc and therefore an entirely different budget structure and shouldn’t be compared to Real, Covent Garden etc. Probably Royal Albert Hall is an apt comparison …

    • william osborne says:

      True, the house basically does guest performances. We might also remember that Baden-Baden is the city that lost the SWR Orchestra.

  • suzanne says:

    Germany’s biggest opera house in terms of number of employees is Stuttgart, interestingly enough.