Italian opera has shut down. Are artists getting paid?

Italian opera has shut down. Are artists getting paid?


norman lebrecht

February 25, 2020

The following theatres have been shut by the Coronavirus scare:

Teatro alla Scala di Milano, il Teatro Regio di Parma, il Teatro La Fenice di Venzia, il Teatro Filarmonico di Verona, il Teatro Comunale di Bologna, il Teatro Alighieri di Ravenna,  Teatro Municipale di Piacenza.

None will open again before next week.

Who’s looking after the artists?



  • pastore says:

    No chance they’ll get paid. Even when they sing payment is an iffy thing and usually much later.

  • Zenaida says:

    Most likely the artists are not getting paid, since standard contracts contain a “force majeur” clause and this includes epidemics, whereby the theatres don’t need to pay.

  • John Rook says:

    Why should they be paid when they’re closed when they don’t even pay them when they’re open?

  • Karl says:

    It’s not just artists. People who work much lower paying jobs are losing work too.

  • IntBaritone says:

    obviously not… this is literally written into every contract we get and sign.

  • Terence says:

    I doubt the theatres will open next week, or the week after.

    Bet the managers get paid regardless – they always have their snouts deepest in the trough.

    • Ionut says:

      Mamagers of the theatera are employees. Of course they are paid, as is the whole staff. Guests artists are not paid. Theyr managers also not, as they are taking in commissions from the fee. No fee, no commission.

      • V.Lind says:

        It’s hard on them, but this thing is serious, and I imagine people are understanding that things happen. (And probably relieved not to have to go to Italy right now).

        And it is hardy only them. Think of all those people in lock-down in Tenerife, or caught on the Diamond Princess, or in various other circumstances plus the quarantines all over the place. Many have been on holiday. Most mere mortals have finite holiday periods, and they may have to be paying for their extended stays where they are stuck, and may well be losing pay for not returning to work on time. Insurance plans may or may not include force majeure coverage.

        Covid-19 is no respecter of persons.

    • Guest says:

      We’ve been over this before. Top-fee artists at major houses earn in a SINGLE PERFORMANCE the equivalent of half a year’s salary (before tax withholding) of many rank-and-file company staffers. Enough with the baseless insinuations that the “management” are enriching themselves at the expense of the poor artists.

      The issue in Italy is entirely a separate one. As has been noted above, even when theaters are running without interruption, it can take well over a year for an artist to actually get paid what they have contractually earned. The drastic decline of public subsidies for the arts in Italy and the absence of a robust tradition of private philanthropy have left many of Italian opera companies and orchestras unable to pay their bills on time–or at all. It’s rather alarming.