Bucharest is paying a tenor six times as much as Vienna

Ioan Holender, the Romanian-born former head of the Vienna State Opera, has issued a stinging attack on the hapless administration at Bucharest National Opera.

Here’s what he says, in part:

I found out that [Beatrice Rancea, interim manager of BNO] paid  80.000€ to Roberto Alagna for singing two arias at a so called “Opera Gala”.

At Staatsoper Wien the maximum fee is 12.400€, while at La Scala, where Alagna is no longer invited, the fee is 15.000€. I don’t know how much she paid to the Mexican tenor Ramón Vargas – him too in his late autumn of his career – for his Edgardo in Lucia di Lammermoor, but his weak performance has been heard.

Holender goes on to criticise the ‘shameful’ forced departure of ballet chiefs Johan Kobborg and Alina Cojocaru and the failure of Andrei Șerban’s new production of  Lehar’s Merry Widow, running four and a half hours.

Read Holender’s full article here (in Romanian).

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  • The title of this article is a shame. Robert Alagna is not “a tenor”. He is the 2nd tenor worldwide. He was not payed with that ammount. Does mr Holender have a proof? It’ s easy to speak, attack and make a supposition. Everybody could do that. BNO had a great revival since september. People who cannot accept that are still writing jazz stuff.

    • It’s really funny. The last line of your post should have been deleted before you pressed “post comment”, because in very few words you managed to render your entire opinion without value.

      • Oh Mikey! If you didn’t get the last line of my comment..that’s sad.People who cannot accept that BNO is doing great, are still writing jazz. P.S. jazz is an expression for sh*ts (tâmpenii, prostii, vorbe făra rost)

    • ”A great revival” since September? No programming for Graham Vick`s productions, at least three galas, no “Oedipe”, no “Manon”, no “La fille mal gardée”, a shameful cast for the premiere of Andrei Serban`s “Lucia di Lammermoor”, changes in the casts when the performances are almost sold-out, etc.

      • Well dear Nicoleta..YES a great revival!! Manon and La fille mal gardee were for a limited number representations. So there is nothing to do about that.

  • White man (well actually Trump-clone sunlamp-browned man) speaks with extremely forked tongue! Maybe someone should ask him about his fee demands for some artists when he was still an agent – and also about some of his under-the-table deals for big names when he ran the Vienna opera.

    • According to my two flies on the wall, the Vienna State Opera has a small, secret room at the back of the east wing with no furniture apart from a large table in the middle, covered with a floral damask faux silk fabric in two tone gold, which hangs so long over the tabletop that it touches the floor. Underneath, all contracts with the singers are both discussed and signed. It’s a tradition that goes back to 13th of March 1848 when revolutionary troubles in the city forced operatic negotiations to take place in relative safety.

  • Stars command high fees; and the less you can offer in terms of prestige the higher you will have to pay. It is no surprise that for a gala Bucharest might have to pay Alagna more than Vienna, as he brings them more non-monetary value than he brings them. (Although the amount if true is higher than one might expect, it is true).

  • Further to Herr Borstal’s comment. It has always been the case that before entering the negotiation chamber the participants must bow three times before the busts of Emperor Ferdinand, Franz Joseph and Elisabeth. Furthermore all note papers were then burned prior to departure to assure the negotiations remained secret.

  • Alas, there is nothing new about Romania being willing to pay foreign artists far more than Romanian artists. This has been commented upon by Romanian artists such as soprano Leontina Vaduva and conductor Cristian Mandeal in interviews over the years. The implication of this is that Romanian artists either have to be happy with eaking out a living through performing or teaching at home or try to find work abroad in order to make a better income. Holender was for the past several years artistic director of the Enescu Festival in Bucharest, I gather that he tried to rectify the balance of payments for engaged artists but was over-ruled.

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