Does Jonas Kaufmann get paid extra for rehearsal?

Does Jonas Kaufmann get paid extra for rehearsal?


norman lebrecht

September 16, 2016

The public audit of the Opéra de Paris has revealsed that the upper echelon of opera stars are paid €15,000 a night, which is pretty much the norm at major international houses.

But a coveted few, such as Anna Netrebko and the German tenor Kaufmann are paid an extra fee – not disclosed – to ensure that they attend rehearsals.

Can this really be so?


kaufmann probe


  • MacroV says:

    It doesn’t seem unreasonable that singers would be paid for rehearsals, not just performances. As I recall a thread a little while back, there was a whole issue of singers who didn’t get paid for rehearsals, and if they had to withdraw from a performance for illness, didn’t get paid for that, either, leaving them in a big financial mess. I’m not familiar with fee structures for big (or minor) opera singers, but it would seem reasonable that overall compensation should account for both.

  • Erich says:

    This is nothing new. If a new production requires star singers for a sensible period of rehearsal rather than a Domingoesque ‘fly in for the dress rehearsal’ alibi presence, it is an added incentive. It makes relatively little difference to the budget and quite a lot for the overall artistic quality of the finished product.

  • AB says:

    It is absolutely normal that the singers are paid for the rehearsals – so that they don’t travel to and there singing little concerts all over the world. The rehearsal periods for a new production last normally 4-6 weeks, so the usual price for the whole rehearsal period is one fee. But normally the houses don’t take the accomodation in charge.

  • Nick says:

    I always understood that in the top houses, rehearsals for non-salaried singers are not paid for. Rules were only stretched for the top few like Pavarotti, often with an extra performance thrown in to the contract which it was known he would not sing, but for most others fees started coming in only when performances started. I’ll be interested to know if that is no longer the case.

  • Don says:

    Most singers are not paid for rehearsals in any way shape or form. Some may get paid a small amount out of their first performance fee to cover expenses for the period. Accommodations are not included. If the rehearsal period is extra long, some stipend may be added.

    Many A-list singers don’t show up to rehearsal until a week before opening because they can be making money, and be booked elsewhere. It makes sense that an opera house would pay them for their time to make sure they stay for the rehearsal process. If you’ve sung Werther 40 times, you don’t need yet another 6 week rehearsal process to “find the character”. The production won’t throw anything new at them.

  • Bruce says:

    I always assumed that a contract stipulated a certain number of rehearsals. Somebody famous could have a fixed nightly fee, and the fewer rehearsals they have to do, the higher their hourly pay. (20K per night with only one rehearsal included would obviously work out better than 5K per night with seven unpaid rehearsals…)

  • Chris Maeder says:

    Singers should be paid for rehearsals, my son is an actor and gets paid for all rehearsals.
    After all a new Opera production takes a long time to put on, so why should they hang around for free. I used to attend many rehearsals at the Paris Opera and on some days the principal singers had nothing to do, whilst the director was trying to think what to do next!!

  • liloloperaluv says:

    Kaufmann has complained about long rehearsals being costly because singer are paid by the performance not hours. Perhaps that is no longer the case for the top tier. If you want to fill your theater…pay up.

  • Garib says:

    This merely seems to be a way for agents to bypass the €15,000 “top fee”, since, as Don says, no rehearsals are usually paid in French theaters. We heard of another one: an opera conductor (not happy with his 15,000 per show) got a” preparation fee” for an extra €5000… You would think just one 5000? No, for EVERY show, as if there were some special preparation still to do between the 2nd and the 3rd performance… In the end, assistant and musical staff did most of said “preparation” and the conductor happily cashed his 20,000…

  • MissShelved says:

    It’s about time! Who wants the bad old days when the divas and divos rolled into town with their own costumes (and jewels) and parked and barked in front of stock scenery? We have come to expect a very high standard of acting. Directors,to a disturbing degree, have started staging the action on doubles, dancers,and supers, leaving the singers standing around on the sidelines (note the Palais Garnier Damnation of Faust). If directors don’t think they will be able to rehearse with the stars (or the chorus for that matter — don’t even start on the La Scala chorus who won’t sing during staging rehearsals), they’ll work around them. Maybe some stars prefer this. But most don’t. They want to do a good show but they deserve to paid while they prepare it.

  • Garib says:

    This could merely look like a way for artists (and their agents) to bypass the €15,000 “top fee”, since, as Don says, no rehearsals are usually paid in French theaters. We heard of another one: an opera conductor, not happy with his 15,000 per show, managed to get a “preparation fee” of an extra €5000… You would think just one 5000? No, for EACH show, as if there was some preparation still to do between the 3rd and the 4th performance… In the end, what happened? assistant and musical staff did most of said “preparation”, and the conductor happily cashed his 20,000…

  • Garib says:

    Sorry, double post (looked like first time had not worked)

  • Nick says:

    I have always found it an extreme oddity that singers are not paid for rehearsals in addition to performances. Times started to change many decades ago as productions became more than just vehicles for stars, and yet this tradition continues. It’s not only that three or more weeks of rehearsals take up more than double the time required for a run of six performances as Missshelved points out above, it’s the fact that singers are now far more mobile. The cost of air fares, accommodation, food and other necessities for weeks of rehearsal in a city/country other than one’s home base can easily eat up the first one or two fees.

    It’s sometimes extraordinary to remember that theatrical digs were common 50 years ago when many performing companies were regularly touring. Many actors and singers would have their regular landladies and the cost of accommodation was far less expensive than even small hotels. Even more recently I have one friend who was a regular at Salzburg for about 20 years and who had the same landlady there for all that time.

    • Lesley Hendrickson says:

      Regional theatres, at least in the US, usually own or maintain relationships with landlords to provide ‘theatrical digs’ for travelling performers. Lodging for out of towners is part of the Actors Equity contract. Coming to town weeks before an opera performance and having to pay major tourist city prices (NYC, London, Paris, VIenna, Munich!) for accommodations has got to take a huge bite out of the most princely of fees. I’m guessing we’d all prefer to see a production where the major role-players have actually rehearsed with one another. So, yes, change is good!