London cuts 2021 opera singer fees

London cuts 2021 opera singer fees


norman lebrecht

August 15, 2020

We hear from agents that singers at Opera Holland Park have been asked to take a 20 percent fee cut in the 2021 season, assuming it goes ahead.

This is not an offer anyone can refuse. We wait to see by how much other opera companies decide to lower their emoluments.



  • Una says:

    The lesson of cutting your coat according to your cloth is learnt. Oratorio fees have had to do that for years or use students willing to sing for peanuts. Always someone who will sing for less if you don’t and never more so than now.

    • Stop Singer Exploitation! says:

      Has the concept of simply not looking to USE people and pay them for their talent ever occurred to you.

  • Richard says:

    Maybe the fox took off with some of their funds…?

  • Occamsrazor says:

    The Ponzi scheme of classical music wasn’t sustainable before covidiocy. Liberals love covidiocy because all of them are living on helicopter money and never had it so good. Too bad, Weimar republic usually ends in “Wenn die soldaten durch die stadt marschieren.”. I’m gonna treat myself to a completely free performance of this gem by Marlene Dietrich on YouTube. The best workout music there is.

  • Michaela says:

    And of course the singers will have a 20%cut at their rentals, groceries, travel bills, insurances, etc….or not?

  • IntBaritone says:

    What is 20% of 5 pounds/show?


    • Fiona Shaw says:

      Considering the poor quality of the singers over the last couple of decades, they should simply scale back the number of productions and be more selective and not pay themselves as much since they’re doing less.

      The younger singers have poor technique, breath control and PITCH issues. Many need to loose a stone or two as well..

  • Anonymous singer says:

    What is the point of a contract if the presenter isn’t required to stick to the agreed upon terms?

    • Lawrence Kershaw says:

      As an agent with performers engaged by OHP for 2021 I can confirm that both they and I are entirely supportive of the Company’s response to Covid, including this decision to reduce fees. I would further hope that it may introduce a greater degree of rationality among my colleagues as to what promoters can afford to pay to artists whom, for the most part, do not generate an audience by their names only.

  • Gabor Milkmanson says:

    An utter travesty, I suggest an outright boycott. We CANNOT let opera companies get away with using this brutal pandemic as an excuse to cut wages. SHAPE up or SHIP out, suits!

  • Dane Lam says:

    What would you suggest an opera company does in the face of drastically reduced incomings? This is the company that, almost singlehandedly, brought opera back to the London summer this year, employing dozens of freelancers at the same time. An opera company that has a track record of re-employing artists year after year and taking a punt on artists at the start of their careers.

    Would love to hear any better, more constructive solutions in the face of this crisis the likes of which none of us have ever dealt with?

    • Clutching my pearls! Oh my!! says:

      Beginning with the Board of Directors, simply lead by example and cut your each of your bloody salaries FIRST, then get to those that are much less of a financial burden.

      By the way, Holland Park is in such dire straits, they can’t afford a little support for the arts between Harrod’s and Bond Street deliveries???

    • Singers’ advocate says:

      Dane, do you know if the orchestra are also taking a 20% pay cut? Because I somehow doubt it…

      • Ic225 says:

        Singer’s advocate, do you know if the orchestra is paid as much as the singers? Because I somehow doubt it…

        • Offended Non-Binary Vocalist says:

          Higher pay among orchestral players is one of the great inequities singers have faced for too long.

          Thank you for drawing attention to this grave injustice.

          It’s time to take this to and demand performer equality!!!!!!

        • Singers’ Advocate says:

          I would absolutely 100% love to know. Somebody please ask James Clutton. But singers are routinely expected to put up with this kind of thing, whereas an orchestra would simply refuse to play. I suspect several of the OHP “stars” are paid a shade more than the orchestra per performance, but I expect that per hour of work (rehearsals, let’s ignore coachings and learning time for now) every single singer is on a fraction of the hourly pay of the orchestra. Twas ever thus. To my knowledge only the mega-stars of the singing world will legitimately be making more per hour in the House than the orchestra accompanying them.
          In the case of OHP, the singers are being asked to/required to take a pay cut. My question stands: are the orchestra also being asked to take the same.
          Because still, I doubt it.