Virus shutdown: The musicians who will suffer most

Virus shutdown: The musicians who will suffer most


norman lebrecht

March 11, 2020

Salaried staff of opera houses and concert halls that have been shut by Coronavirus measures in Italy, Austria, Germany and other EU countries will continue to receive their wages in the next six weeks, before they are able to rehearse and perform again.

Freelanced musicians will go without pay.

There is no plan at the moment so far as we are aware to compensate singers who were booked for now-cancelled productions or instrumentalists who were asked to fill in at the various orchestras. UPDATE: Germans plan aid for freelancers.

They are the economic victims of this crisis and something needs to be done to help them over the closure period.



  • ConcernedCitizen says:

    What about the opera companies which employ them all, and which presumably risk bankruptcy if this goes on too long?

    • LaVoix says:

      The operahouses are run by the state or the cities and will get their subsidies, but the freelance singers will stay without their fees. And their managements too, by the way.

      • ConcernedCitizen says:

        This is possibly the case in some European countries, but certainly not in the UK where opera houses are independent charities, not state-run entities. In spite of the public subsidy which some but not all receive, they are responsible for their own affairs and could easily go under with loss of ticket income and bills to pay.

        The impact on freelance musicians is going to be terrible in the short term – but bankruptcy of one or more major companies which provide employment on an ongoing basis would be totally catastrophic for the future of singers and musicians more generally. These are very worrying times.

  • Music camps. All the faculty I hire will be impacted. As a business owner and faculty member of piano camps that are scheduled in April, May, June, July and beyond, we will be more than challenged. We rely on people to travel and being in close proximity so social distancing is impossible. There may be many camps closing. Online/remote learning or webinars will only go so far as camp is often about the experience of being with others. Scary times.