Exclusive: La Scala cuts artist fees

Exclusive: La Scala cuts artist fees


norman lebrecht

August 07, 2020

A letter has gone out to artists from Dominique Meyer, sovrintendente of La Scala, warning them that he has to reduce fees.

We are forced to ask you all to make an important gesture of solidarity by agreeing to a 10% reduction in forthcoming contracts, with effect from those for the 2021 calendar year. This will provide a tangible form of support for the Theatre and help ensure its survival in the coming seasons… I feel certain that you will receive this request with understanding.



  • Edward says:

    are the cuts across the board, or just for performers? Seems very unfair if the non performing staff don’t accept the same cut.

    • Emil says:

      And also, for all artists or just top billing? Someone singing a small part will suffer much more than a Kaufmann or a Netrebko. And there’s much more savings to be done by cutting top fees than by cutting small salaries.

    • John Rook says:

      In any case, try getting that past the Italian unions.

  • IntBaritone says:

    Not unexpected, but not a good precedent to have set for other theaters to follow. How can singers, who have been out of work for 6 months, and are seeing the runway ahead full of cancelled gigs, going to be able to afford a 10% reduction in fees?

    Run, folks. Go get another job. Go get another degree that qualifies you for a great job. Opera is not going to make it. At least not in the form it used to be in…

    • Henry williams says:

      As i have said before. One must look for work in a different profession.
      Which i have always done.

    • Maria says:

      Couldn’t agree more and as a singer myself. Not just opera but concerts as well.

    • Amanda Cannon says:

      Thanks Mr. Optimism!!

      As if opera wasn’t in enough decline with SJW whining and lack of interest by the millennials, gen-Y, etc.

    • Nick2 says:

      I am in general agreement with the point you make about singers fees. But you surely cannot seriously believe that singers engaged by La Scala will suffer as a result of a 10% reduction in fees for several performances! Smaller companies perhaps but not at a leading House.

      • an accompanist who has worked with singers says:

        Contrary to what Nick2 thinks, most opera singers, even at an élite opera house, are not enormously wealthy. The overheads associated with maintaining a career as an opera singer (lessons, coaching, priority medical attention when vocal problems arise, travelling, hotels, short-term rentals) can be enormous, the risk of financial loss occasioned by illness or vocal problems considerable (because if you are engaged on a freelance basis, non-delivery of a performance often results in not getting paid, despite having spent weeks in rehearsal and having incurred significant expenses), and many singers find their careers cut short by vocal problems or negative reviews from the critics. Even for an opera singer who becomes a “household name” and is regularly engaged in *principal* roles in *élite* opera houses, it is a precarious career.

        Perhaps Nick2 should try and imagine he were a singer making his La Scala début in a comprimario role after years of lessons/coaching, travelling all over Europe for auditions (at his own expense), obscure opera gigs that incurred more in travel/accommodation expenses than he got paid, and using every moment of spare time to earn money by any means (the fortunate ones at least get to do related activity, such as teaching or ushering for a concert hall) to subsidise his opera career. And, having imagined all this, can Nick2 really claim that a 10% pay cut would not cause him to “suffer”?

    • Tamino says:

      Such whiny people.
      Opera survived many pandemics, many wars, many devastations.
      It will survive this too.
      Too many people in the first world had the privilege to not experience hardships in their lives.
      Their resilience to crisis is alarmingly low and they believe having no wifi coverage is as bad as it gets.

    • Eva says:

      Lo kdown has shown no job actually makes it…

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Fair enough under the circumstances.