Antonio Pappano: The UK news is increasingly gruesome

Antonio Pappano: The UK news is increasingly gruesome


norman lebrecht

January 24, 2021

From an interview in Milan with Corriere della Serra:

‘In Rome I’m not collecting my salary as music director; for the concerts, I’m taking a significantly reduced fee; and for the three concerts that we streamed at Covent Garden, I worked for free.

‘The news from the UK is increasingly gruesome with the enormous rise in deaths. The country seems divided between those who reason and care for others and those who couldn’t care less. So there’s chaos and fear. And let’s not even talk about my theatre, The Royal Opera House, which has been closed since December – at least in Italy we continue with streaming. The economic damage is indescribable, but Petrenko, Gatti, and Gardiner have all come to work at Santa Cecilia, which are important signs of encouragement.’

Read on here.



  • Hans U. says:

    This is the consequence of of overreacting.

    No work. No money.

    Just think of the singers and players who lost everything and have suicided already.

    • Sue Sonata Form says:

      Yes. We are finding out the opportunity cost of saving the baby boomer generation. Anyone care to consider who’ll pick up the tab for the international airline industry, which runs into the billions – equal to or surpassing the GDP of many nations?

      There has to be an alternative to complete lockdown. International pilots in Australia are baristas now!!

      • Hayne says:

        Saving the baby boomer generation. I’m not so sure about that. Look how the British NHS treats old people…

      • Samantha Bendzulla says:

        It’s a lovely thought to imagine that if only your parents loved you and you actually had a few friends who aren’t inflatable of made of silicone we might be spared your loathsome views. Your performative trolling is tiresome.

        • Hayne says:

          Try to watch this video and see if what I say isn’t true. You can also look up the many scandals of elderly abuse by the NIH.

          Being the loathsome beast that I am here is a wonderful video of elderly care of British and other Europeans in Thailand.

          You have to be in the upper middle class to afford it. If you’re poor and elderly in Britain, well, tough luck. If you’re a musician in Britain who is getting towards the end of your career, I urge you to research elderly care there.

          I’m supposed to be sorry for calling out the left’s incoherence on so many things? Nope:)

          • Petty Larker says:

            She wasn’t talking to you.

            But if I may pick you up one thing: it’s utterly incoherent to argue that the left has led us into this mess when we’ve been in the grips of right-wing populism for over a decade.

          • Hayne says:

            I apologize to her then. My mistake.
            I’m also sorry that I thought that socialized medicine was a leftist ideal.

      • Emilee says:

        The airlines can lose worth and sell shares like everyone else. They’ve been bailed out too many times, and their shareholders don’t seem to suffer. Those investors can suck it for a little while.

  • Cynical Bystander says:

    “The country seems divided between those who reason and care for others and those who couldn’t care less.”

    I don’t think it is right that the country is divided in the way he suggests. I know no one who ‘couldn’t care less’. Some question the extent of the restrictions that are putting in jeopardy organisations like ROH but even they could be said to care, just not in the same way as those who Pappano believes ‘reason and care’.

    He could perhaps wonder more why he is able to perform in Rome but not in London and why even with the amount of money that ROH has received they cannot but recycle old performances of already available productions on DVD. Why can I watch nightly productions from Vienna and the much vilified MET for free. Pay for relays of new performances from Munich and other houses but have to pay to watch something I already bought some years ago from ROH. Or perhaps, harsh though it may be, there are those in Floral St who couldn’t care less.

    • Adrienne says:

      “even with the amount of money that ROH has received”

      I think I’m right in saying that the ROH receives less public subsidy than comparable opera houses in Europe.

    • Bass One says:

      I know no one who ‘couldn’t care less’. You need to get out more!

  • Jan Kaznowski says:


    An interesting take

  • Peter says:

    So… he is not collecting his salary in Rome, although he conducts there and Santa Cecilia is moving on somehow with some sort of programmes. He is probably also living there during the period, not in the UK where the situation is “gruesome”.
    But he is collecting his six-figure salary from the Royal Opera House, which is closed.
    Isn’t that ironic?
    Pappano, as good/great as a conductor he might be, is starting to have his nose in the air lately, which is disappointing. It was also annoying to only see his face all over Covent Garden’s social media videoclips, after all there are other conductors or singers at Covent Garden, based in the UK or elsewhere, it’s not just Pappano, the Royal Opera is much more than that!
    I found the ROH doing a pretty boring job with their online streams as well – definitely not top quality choices, which is surprising considering that their performance archive include Te Kanawa, Cotrubas, Terfel, Gheorghiu and Alagna in countless performances.

  • Siegfried says:

    RO’s output during the pandemic has not been good. I find it objectionable, though, that Pappano plays the card of performing for free. He has had an excessively high salary at CG for years and performance fees have been added to that, even if currently he is not taking that salary. If he had any conscience, he would be expressing some consideration of the many staff in the arts, at CG and elsewhere, who have lost their jobs. He is in a privileged position whilst millions in UK and across the world are struggling.

    • Allen says:

      “He has had an excessively high salary at CG for years”

      In his defence, I would argue that he works in a profession where there is genuine competition for talent. I’m sure he will be lured away from CG in due course.

      Compare this with Gary Lineker’s eye watering salary at the BBC (£1.75m, before the BBC was embarrassed into cutting it, + £1.2m from Walker’s Crisps). The BBC always justifies this on competition grounds but I don’t see many of these exceptional talents going elsewhere.

      • George says:

        Invalid comparison.
        But interesting that Lineker gets £1.2m from Walker’s Crisps – rather undermines your argument!

        • Allen says:

          Why? Walker’s Crisps uses Lineker for the sole reason that he was a high profile footballer, not for his presentational skills. His advantage will have a short shelf-life and will disappear as soon as someone younger comes along.

          If Lineker were a first rate presenter, he would be in demand in that capacity. This does not appear to be the case.

          It is also wrong, IMO, that an organisation funded on what is effectively a tax, should have been paying £1.75 to someone to talk about football. Like disc jockeying, it is a mediocre skill.

  • Allen says:

    I think people in Mr Pappano’s fortunate position should be wary of overusing the word “we”. I’m sure that many of those who “couldn’t care less” are actually people in flats with small children who need to get out once in a while to preserve their sanity, and don’t have an alternative base in Italy to move to.

    “memory of the Empire, leading us to believe that we can manage on our own.” Oh dear. Few people have a real “memory of the Empire” and, in my experience, it is only discussed when a visitor brings it up. In practice, the end of the Empire was eclipsed in most people’s lives by the turmoil of WW2. Any difference in attitude is more likely to be due to our status as an island nation, which we’ve had reason to be thankful for.

    Stick to your conducting Tony, and please don’t become another arty, finger wagging bore; we have enough of those already and they drive people away.

  • IC225 says:

    I wonder if this is a mistranslation? Pappano isn’t stupid; even if he’s decamped to Italy he must be aware that the situation in the UK is not remotely as this suggests.

    Of course, if this is just another “we demand strict and decisive measures; oh, except for our industry which must be permitted to continue untrammeled regardless of public safety” plea from a big-name artist with a slightly tenuous grip on reality, then I guess we know where we stand. But I had Pappano down as more intelligent (and grounded) than that. Hence…mistranslation?

  • christopher storey says:

    Did you say ” become ” a finger wagging bore , Allen? Isn’t he one already ?

  • Nicola Cattò says:

    Serra = Greenhouse; Sera = Evening