Covent Garden is paying 20% of cancelled contracts

Covent Garden is paying 20% of cancelled contracts


norman lebrecht

April 22, 2020

We hear from a couple of agents that the Royal Opera House is offering one-fifth of the value of the artist contracts it has cancelled during the pandemic period.

That’s better than the hard-nosed Met, but still way below English National Opera, which is paying all contracts in full.

What’s happening at other state operas?

UPDATE: ROH has sent a notice to agents today, confirming the payoff to all artists, regardless of size of commitment, will be 20% (as reported above).


  • Mahagonny says:

    I don’t wish to be identified, but I was in the cast of Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny at Dutch National Opera. They offered us one performance fee (~14.2% of our fee) and we had to fight for our travel to get reimbursed. We had been in Amsterdam unpaid for nearly 5 weeks of rehearsals before the show was cancelled. DNO has no rehearsal fee, so we were all out of luck.

    • Alabama song says:

      It’s sad to realize in 2020, no matter the wealth and “prestige” of opera houses around the world, opera singers are treated with as much dignity as hookers.

      • Stuart says:

        sad but true. Opera is a niche of a niche of a niche in 2020 and a dying elitist art form. The audience is vanishing and not being replaced. I love opera but recognize that it is fading away. The comparison with hookers is not apt. Opera houses no longer have much prestige and certainly are not wealthy. It is such a tiny market in the grander scheme of things.

  • Roger Baker says:

    But let’s remind ourselves that ENO’s liabilities were much smaller than ROH’s. They only had three productions left (around 15-20 performances). ROH had around 12 more productions to go (opera alone, around 50-60 performances, plus ballet). And ENO are clearly still thinking about how they get themselves off the hook for the Autumn, given the email that went around a couple of weeks ago. So let’s not hold them up as the heroes just because they got out with their (easy and cheap to deliver) announcement first. Also, has anyone asked if other freelancers are being honoured or is it just singers? And what about the ENO Chorus’ losses from lost Summer work (that they wouldn’t have had to go looking for if ENO hadn’t cut them back to 75% a couple of years ago)?

  • caranome says:

    Hookers are smarter than opera singers: they get paid upfront, preferably in cash, and much more on a per hourly basis.