Chile: It’s worse than we thought

Chile: It’s worse than we thought


norman lebrecht

July 22, 2019

Earlier today, we reported that the main opera house in Chile had sacked 13.5 percent of the workforce.

The Municipal Theatre of Santiago has responded to the Slipped Disc report with a press release in English (below). Read carefully and you will find that in addition to the 59 staff who were fired – the headline 13.5 percent – a further 19 people were persuaded to take ‘voluntary’ retirement.

In all more than one in six of the workforce have been laid off. Here’s the official version:

The Municipal de Santiago Announces Reorganization Plan

This measure seeks to secure sustainability and normal operations amid the
delicate finance situation it now faces.

Santiago – July 22 nd , 2019. The board of Directors of the Municipal de Santiago approved a reorganization plan for the institution in order to face the delicate economic phase it is now undergoing, thus securing its continuity and healthy operations.
The plan, effective as of July 17th , considers a series of measures in order to boost income
and reduce costs, including a 13% downsize of the staff, (a total of 59 people) most of which belong to administration and technical areas. Another 19 workers had expressed their wish to retire voluntarily.
According to General Director Frédéric Chambert, “it is undoubtly a very serious situation
and we had to take painful yet necessary decisions to assure the future of this
Hand in hand with a greater efficiency in costs and commercial strategies aimed to attract
new audiences, this adjustments is fundamental in order to implement this new phase,
which will translate in savings of 1,500 million pesos per year (2.2 million US$ dollars)
which will allow a more flexible operation.
The Administration of the Municipal de Santiago deeply regrets that such adjustment
affects part of its staff directly, to whom it is grateful for their compromise with the
production and diffusion of the arts.
The Municipal will continue working for its partners, stakeholders, patrons, workers, in-
house and guest artists and general public. All necessary measures will be taken in order
to ensure the normal functioning of the theater.




  • Carlos says:

    As a Chilean, what I have seen is that unfortunately, Mr Chambert is not worried about bringing people to the venue offering a good season. He only offers ticket discounts which decreases revenues. One example, in 2018 we could attend WPO, Vengerov, Yuga Wang among others. This year no international season of interest. In Opera, many unknown singers from western europe which are not as good as local singers and paying extra expenses as travel, hotel, etc. The better the season, the greater revenues and big audience.

    • Pablo says:

      ” In Opera, many unknown singers from western europe which are not as good as local singers” – could you name please those singers(from Europe) and tell us exactly which chilean local singers could replace them with giving high(er) quality??

  • fflambeau says:

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the arts and humanities are under threat from a resurgent right often disguised as “austerity”. This is a world-wide phenomenon.

    Good for NL for sniffing it out in Chile.

    • John Rook says:

      Nonsense. In this case, it’s the left who are behind the problems.

    • guest says:

      the left have and always will champion “the people’s music”, which is never classical.

    • Saxon Broken says:

      fflambeau: “a resurgent right often disguised as “austerity”…”

      Huh? The right-wing populists really don’t give two hoots about austerity. It is the moderate centre who worry about balancing the budget, and have lost considerable support from the electorate by doing so.

  • Asdrubal perez says:

    The news today is that the intendant of the theater, mon. F. Chambert, has been fired. He is blamed for declining artística standards and a heavy loss of públic.