Pappano’s Covent Garden salary is seriously low

Pappano’s Covent Garden salary is seriously low


norman lebrecht

June 12, 2018

The charities website Third Sector has been doing the diligence on Covent Garden’s accounts for the year ending 27 August 2017, which have just been put online.

Music director Sir Antonio Pappano was paid just £115,000 in salary. However, he earned additional fees of £679,591 for the number of nights he conducted.

Alex Beard, the ROH chief executive, was paid £286,095.

Sally O’Neill, the chief operating officer, earned £189,603.

Neither was asked to conduct.

More detail here.


  • John S. says:

    Base salaries are always low because they get paid conductors fees and bonuses on top of all that. Same here in the US. Have you got nothing else to report about?

  • Olassus says:

    At £794,591, the mediocre Pappano is grossly overpaid by the ROH. (And, so sad that Jonas Kaufmann has hitched his wagon to all the wrong conductors in Verdi!)

    • Caravaggio says:

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • Alex Davies says:

      Mediocre? I think Pappano is the best conductor I’ve ever seen/heard.

      • Anonymous says:

        Then you haven’t seen or heard many conductors.

        • John Borstlap says:

          This is ENTIRELY and CONSISTENTLY ridiculous.

          I have Pappano’s CD with ‘Wagner Love Duets’ with Domingo and Voigt, and the ROH orchestra. Both singers are not very interesting on this recording, but ‘passable’. But what Pappano achieves with the orchestra is stunning, it is superb musicianship: Siegfried act III from Brunhild’awakening onwards, Tristan act II the love scene with the concert ‘happy ending’. Listening to it repeatedly, never diminishes the freshness and expressive quality, so much that one is no longer hindered by the quality of the voices. EMI 2000.

        • Alex Davies says:

          It’s probably safe to assume that I’ve seen almost any conductor who has conducted in London in the last 15 years, whether in symphonic repertoire, opera, or ballet. I’ll have seen a fair selection of conductors who appeared in London between the late 1980s (sadly I missed Karajan) and early 2000s, plus some who have perhaps not appeared in London but who I’ve been able to see in other cities in the UK or the rest of Europe. You can assume that I’ve seen anybody who has recently conducted the Royal Opera/Ballet, English National Opera/Ballet, LSO, Philharmonia, LPO, RPO, OAE, BBCSO, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Academy of Ancient Music, and major international orchestras that have performed at the Barbican, Southbank, or Cadogan Hall or at the Proms.

          • Anonymous says:

            I have to say, then, I’m surprised he comes out at the top of your heap. Perhaps this is another example of how, in our times, we always have reach for superlatives, how everything has to be ranked, how something has to be the ‘greatest’ or its worth nothing.

            I’ve heard a lot of Pappano’s conducting. I like him, a great deal, in certain repertoire. But he is not the greatest conductor of the last 50 years, even at Covent Garden.

            Haitink achieved wonderful things in that pit. Carlos Kleiber produced some extraordinary work with that orchestra. Giulini, Abbado, Muti…

            Solti, with that orchestra, could be miraculous.

            I could go on.

          • Saxon Broken says:

            Anon writes: “I’ve heard a lot of Pappano’s conducting. I like him, a great deal, in certain repertoire”

            Why not tell us which repertoire?

  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Pappano is wonderful and has been great for the Garden.

  • Caravaggio says:

    Also, Jonas Kaufmann collaborating with all the wrong conductors in Verdi is (almost) the least of it. Consider this:

    Climb Every Mountain

    and this


  • Shalom Rackovsky says:

    Pappano brought the Orchestra Nazionale di Santa Cecilia to town this year, and conducted an absolutely spectacular concert. [The orchestra, an equal partner, of course, was also fantastic]. More generally, I am constantly amazed at the stupefying level of expertise of SD regulars, who are able to denigrate any living performer with practically no investment of effort or thought at all. It is obvious that the only way for a classical musician to be revered is for him/her to be dead, although that is clearly necessary, but not sufficient.

    • David Ruhf says:

      Amen! Snobbery and elitism are fine in small doses (and there are things about which I am snobby, myself), but I’d love to see some of these churls actually write a paean to something they actually liked, just to prove they’re capable of anything other than mean girl snark.

    • Don Ciccio says:

      Couldn’t agree more! As I said, Pappano is the conductor people say Kirill Petrenko is (and this year I had the opportunity to hear both Pappano and Petrenko; I enjoyed Pappano’s music making much more, no contest).

      As for his wages, that’s above my pay level – sorry silly pun.

      • Saxon Broken says:

        Personally I think that Pappano and K.Petrenko are among the very best opera conductors in their generation. Even if, for some reason, Pappano seems to be under-appreciated in the profession. But he has turned the Santa Cecilia into a very good orchestra. And returned the ROH arguably into the top opera house in the world (and a “singers house” too since soloists love working with him).

        Would anyone really prefer Levine, Nezet-Seguin, Jordan, Barenboim, or Welser-Most to run their opera house than either Pappano or K.Petrenko?

        • Waltraud Riegler says:

          To mention one of the most overrated opera conductors: Thielemann (heard him twice). In contraty to Th. Pappano is a singers conductor, which is very important on opera, if nnot to say the MOST important.

    • Ricardo says:

      I was just thinking about this very subject earlier today. Is ANYONE good enough for all the people who love to denigrate every living performer? Come on, folks. We are all trying to get it right. Some get paid more, others less, but we are all trying to get it right. Give us a break and, if you find no music or performer you like, make music yourself, to a level that will satisfy you. Don’t be Kafka’s hunger artist. I am a modest performer who does not like the mainstream music world. To the best of my ability, I have tried for 32 years to create an alternative music world around me that satisfies me. Heaven knows I hardly ever “get it right”, but I am doing my own searching and refrain from criticizing my colleagues, who are also trying to get it right.

    • FS60103 says:

      Oh, they’re a clever lot on here! Don’t need to actually hear an artist live to form a damning judgement. Sometimes they can do it from a 30 second Youtube clip. On other occasions all they need is a picture of the artist’s hairstyle. In some cases they can even work it out based on how many ‘Y’ chromosomes the artist has. As I say, phenomenally musical bunch.

      • barry guerrero says:

        As a collector of numerous recordings of Mahler 6, I can safely tell you that Pappano’s recording of it with his Orchestra Nazionale di Santa Cecilia is truly one of the better ones to have come out in a long while. I like it as much as most any in my collection.

        I thought his “Tristan” was pretty darn good too. I also liked his Respighi Roman trilogy disc (Pines, Fountains and Festivals).

  • Dacre says:

    Could you not find a photo of Pappano at the ROH? That’s the LSO at the Barbican. Not relevant to this story.

  • Rob says:

    Papppanoo is a very good technician. However I don’t rate his interpretations.

  • Phillippa Ballard says:

    So how much do you make, Norman ?

  • Pedro says:

    Pappano was absolutely splendid when he conducted the Vienna Philharmonic In Don Carlo at the Salzburg Festival a few years ago but I was less happy when he conducted other orchestras, namely the LSO and the ROHO.

    • John Borstlap says:

      No conductor is always perfect with every orchestra and with every repertoire. Sometimes it works out very well, at other times less so. They should be judged on their best achievements.

  • Will Duffay says:

    Nobody should be being paid £800k for anything, in any field, anywhere. Grotesque, excessive and unnecesary.

    I’m sure Pappano is a very good conductor, though, and a decent bloke.

    • Mike Schachter says:

      But very many people are in many places for many things. Some footballers “earn” that much in a month? And your solution?

  • Another Hiding Anon says:

    Jeezus you people! Some of you are denigrating some of the finest artists the world has to offer right now.
    They’ve got where they are by courage, hard work and charisma, Pappano heading those lists; most singers in the world adore him. I suspect he’d do the same job for much less money, and would also be grateful – though probably blissfully unaware – if he got twice the amount. If these conductors were so interested in money, I rather suspect they’d have taken their intellects and chosen alternative careers.
    If one is to continue the bitchy tone above, one might suggest that if questionable-rate composers or journalists made the same amount, they might rethink their comments.
    “I’m not sure about his interpretation of x”?
    Well do please use your massive overflowing charisma to get an orchestra to play to your baton, then do so many times so that you can make actually informed opinions worthy of recording, then please, be happy when someone pays you a living wage for your artistic endeavour.
    Christ on a bike, how dare you people.