Opera chief quits, leaving $40 million deficit

Opera chief quits, leaving $40 million deficit


norman lebrecht

June 11, 2020

Stéphane Lissner will step down six months early at the end of the year as director-general of the Opéra de Paris, leaving his successor Alexander Neef a deficit of 40 million Euros.

Forget Covid. More than 14 million worth of losses arises from the waves of strikes earlier this year.



  • Julien says:

    I don’t like the usual french bashing about strikes, but this time some workers of Opera de Paris were completely irresponsible. A majority of shows cancelled from november to beginning of march.
    The cast of a contemporary opera (need a lot of preparation for singers and each musician) was upset because a show has been cancelled because of….one orchestra’s musician. He was soloist and could not be replaced at the last moment.

    • Globe Trotter says:

      Just stating the facts in an objective way is not French bashing.
      The French way of doing things is, sadly, irresponsible, archaic and never taking responsibility. It is not just limited to the arts sector, but everything is managed in the same unprofessional manner. It is boring and it is wasting time and money on every level.

      I stopped doing any work in France already nearly six years ago. What a relief! The creative level there is actually not very high when you remove the backdrop of the beautiful venues. The level of human dialogue and creative exchange is nearly non-existent and I have rarely worked in a country that lives more on clichés and outdated methods than France. In addition to all that, they don’t even pay particularly well nor on time and when you couple all that with their outdated byzantine tax system, it really is not worth any creative person’s time to get involved there. I also don’t see much coming from the young generation, as the most talented ones all want to leave and they usually do better elsewhere. Those that remain are more “bureaucratic employees” than artists. It is boring and uninteresting beyond words!

      • Francine says:

        For a country that actually believes that it is “intelligent” and “sophisticated” it certainly doesn’t follow those qualities. Intelligent and sophisticated societies have dialogue and are good negotiators and know what compromise means. Those things are unknown in France. There is never any dialogue, only violent, angry and uncivilised outbursts, leading to strikes, demonstrations and destructive riots. France is the world’s biggest kindergarten, a place where even the slightest statement that could even be interpreted, by some, as a challenge or a critique, will inevitably lead to some ridiculous violent or childish outburst. Apart from the ‘yellow vests’, the railway strikers, we have recently seen all the judges throw their robes into the street and yesterday and today we see the police throwing their handcuffs into the street and shouting and looking like petulant children who didn’t get what they wanted. It would be comical, if it wouldn’t be so stupid and pathetic!

  • John Rook says:

    Let’s not forget the millions of taxpayers’ money he used to pay off Nicolas Joel & Co. six months early instead of just letting them play out their time. Unqualified successes look different from this picture.

  • sam says:

    Hey, what’s the point of running a state opera house if you can’t run a deficit?

    Just shift some money from the state pension plan, or national health care system.

    The next generation will pay for it, they won’t mind.

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    “As you sew, so shall ye reap”. A novel idea, I know.

  • MezzoLover says:

    Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it.

    More than 70 performances had to be cancelled as a result of the protests against the government’s pension reform. The loss in revenue from these cancellations has been estimated at around 15 million euros, which is more than the state’s annual contribution to the Opera employees pension fund. (No one was doing the math while on strike, obviously.)

    It is also worth noting that ballet dancers from the Opera were among those determined to hold onto a unique system in existence since 1698, which allows them to retire at 42. (Its origins date to the 17th century and Louis XIV, a dancer himself who knew the crippling toll performing at the highest level can take on dancers’ bodies.) In fact, they were so determined they even rejected a watered down proposal that would have the change only affect those who joined the ballet after 2021.

    Well, it looks like some of those dancers may retire well before they reach 42.

    I love the Palais Garnier (where I saw a thrillingly provocative production of Gluck’s Alceste in 2015) and what has happened to the Opéra de Paris since December 2019 deeply saddens me. But the self-inflicted wound that is the seven-week pension strike by the Opera employees is simply beyond me.

  • frank says:

    The Calixto Beito Ring Cycle, scheduled for November-December of this year has disappeared from the Paris Opera website. Sic transit etc.